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Category Archives: Merlot

The Pope is still Catholic

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Really crap wine alert!!

With my parents visiting for a few days before they embarked on a 3-week trip to Cambodia and Laos we found our weekend plans scuppered somewhat by the Chinese New Year holidays.

Going about one’s business in KL when the roads are so empty is a joy but if you want to get a bite to eat out you need to think carefully as most places are shut. So it was that we acted on my mum’s suggestion to buy a cheap BBQ to put on the balcony, get some nice meats and have a pleasant meal at home.  Our original intention was to go to Skybar or Luna Bar, enjoy the night-time cityscape and then eat at Acme Bar & Coffee. As far as a DIY alternative, then, my mum’s idea was a pretty decent one – after all, the sky-line view from our balcony is better than anything you can get downtown.

Having picked up some mean-looking striploins and merguez sausages I was a little nervous about the integrity of the BBQ owing to the cheap metal. But it managed to stay alive and not melt everywhere, which was a victory of sorts.  My paranoia about smoke and neighbourliness led me to read all the condo’s rules & regulations about a gazillion times, but no-one complained and no jobsworth guards came up, so I assumed we were not contravening regulation 4.5 b) sub-section iii).

The wine we had available for everyday drinking was this pitiful Wolf Blass Eagle Hawk Merlot 2011 – a party donation. I have a certain fondness for Wolf Blass. A bit like my student fondness for Banrock Station Shiraz. Wolf Blass was a brand that my wife and I used to drink a lot of, way back in the day, before we could afford to be pickier. With my mother-in-law being a Waitrose wine-deal fiend and friends bringing it round for dinners, we’d sink gallons of  the Yellow Label cabernet-sauvignon, getting riotously drunk whilst playing board games.

So, Wolf Blass was the cause of many hangovers and plenty of happy memories (though I hated the American-oak vanilla explosion). But times change and palates get choosier, and what served a purpose then certainly does not now.

I was pleased with the steaks and our BBQ meal but the wine was a f*cking abomination – from its pallid, pathetic hue to the almost indistinguishable, limp flavours, it was like drinking a slightly fermented ribena with all the fun taken out. I know that Merlot is soft, fruity, jammy and used most often in Bordeaux blends to soften harsher more tannic grapes, but I would hesitate to even call this wine. I suppose I must remember that you are limited to what you can do with rubbish like this; chuck it in a stew (which brings up the stew/wine conundrum, see previous post) or decant it down the plug-hole.

Drinking it is not a good idea.


Just like the Pope’s being Catholic, this ‘everyday drinking’ wine was designed to be crap.

Having been pleasantly surprised by better-than-expected wines in the past, I should’ve trusted my gut instinct and prior knowledge of the producer to know this would be an as-bad-as-expected experience.

More fool me.

Selamat malam



Did cavemen drink wine?

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Time flies.  In the case of life in KL it’s a little over 7 months.  In the case of Sozzl’d it’s over a month since my last post.  I feel slightly sad about not having written more recently but the fact is I simply haven’t drunk any wine in that time – well, aside from the odd glass in a bar.  I am also realising the limitations of this blog; that to keep my ideas alive I need to feed the blog a diet of wine.  Since good wine is hard to find, it makes finding inspiration to write an equally challenging activity.

Actually, I’ve a fair few more wines in the cooler than in previous months – a perk of travelling to duty-free destinations – so perhaps there’s no excuse for not writing.  But instead of drinking over the past month, I have been eating.  This is KL, after all, where eating is a national sport – loads of bloggers here take their food very seriously.

Read the rest of this entry

Wine Fines

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A week after Langkawi and the peeling has started in earnest.

Somehow forgetting that the tropical sun can be notoriously fierce, I chose to ignore conventional wisdom and applied factor 8 to my face.  Walking into the office mid-week, I kept my head down to hide my unglamorously mottled forehead.

The Thursday before Langkawi and I was out with a group of guys.  The occasion was to appreciate steak.  The same group of guys and girlfriends/wives were the ones we’d  spent that lovely but fateful weekend with when I ‘lost’ my phone.  These guys take their steak very seriously.  There are rules, regulations and a rating system.  A bit like my former obsession for inventorying the wines I tried.  But less geeky, more tongue in cheek. Read the rest of this entry

Grinding my gears

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Disclaimer –  I love Malaysia.  I wouldn’t have committed to being here for 2 years if I didn’t, but every now and then certain things remind you that it’s not all a bed of roses – and there’s nothing wrong with getting it out of the system.  The last week or so has been bitter sweet so I feel like having a bit of a pop at my adopted home.

I lost my phone a week ago at a chic little mountain eco-resort called the Dusun.  With logical but circumstantial proof I concluded that the staff simply did not hand it in, despite my checking with the owner.  It’s a real shame, but I won’t be back.  This weekend just gone, the Wife and I spent 4 days in the honeymooner’s isle of Langkawi for our 3rd anniversary.  Much of the experience was wonderful – the company, cocktails and stunning meal at the Bon Ton especially – but a lot of the time I felt frustrated, annoyed and disappointed in Langkawi.  Again, I would be reluctant to return.

Having reflected on my week, I was reminded of an old school-friend (writing as National Romantic) who lives in Finland.  He wrote a delightful and thoughtful note to me a few months back – about the ups and downs of living abroad – and it has once again struck a chord.  I connected immediately to how he was feeling about his adopted country.  As if to highlight cross-cultural differences, I am reading a book recommended by my Dad entitled Japan’s Cultural Code Words by Boye Lafayette de Mente.  Using Japanese cultural history, the author describes in detail the apparently invisible behaviours deployed consciously or unconsciously by the Japanese, and experienced by Westeners doing business in Japan.  For me the interest in what he says lies in the fact that being half-Japanese I recognise many of these behaviours in myself. Read the rest of this entry

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