We are having a bit of a make-over. You may be aware of the cider rumblings that have been coming from this quarter for a while now, and if you weren’t then apologies for any confusion caused by these changes.

The twitter account is no longer @the_WineStore, it is now @graapples – we’re now in a place where grapes and apples collide (but to be honest I’m still tweeting about a fair bit more than just wine and cider). We’re not fermenting the two in the same place, at the same time, but we are changing direction. While continuing to make wine in the Rhône, Simon is now making cider in Wicklow as well. Having been a frustrated fermenter for a while he now finds it is,  a bit like the arrival of the proverbial buses, all starting to happen at once. This does mean that September & October (grape harvest & wine-making in France) and October & November (apple harvest & cider-making in Ireland) have joined December (the busiest time of the year on the wholesale side of things) as being fairly manic months, but there’s always January (traditionally a quiet period for us) to look forward to and to be honest we’re happy to be busy.

There is a lot of ground work being prepared at the moment and at times we feel like we’re stuck in the hamster wheel but every now and then when we look up we realise we’re making wine and cider and that is amazing. We are still importing and selling wine of course, still concentrating on the Rhône but also bringing in delicious stuff from other parts of France and Spain too, and continuing to thoroughly enjoy that as well. At the moment we can’t sell the cider through the Wine Store due to licencing but we’ll let you know where it’s available once it is out there on the shelves, I’ll tweet that and we’ll have it up on the Craigies Cider facebook page too.

The cider is being made with Angus Craigie outside Grange Con in Co. Wicklow. It will be bottled under the name Craigie’s Cider and the first batch due to hit the shelves late November 2012 will be called ‘The Ballyhook Flyer’ the inspiration for the name came from Angus’ and Froggy’s entry to the Grange Con soapbox derby (some other fine entries to this race can be seen here.)

The cider has had a bit of press in the run up to its being launched,  and we are delighted to be a founding member of Cider Ireland. You can read about this over on the Cider Ireland website. Cider Ireland is a new all-Ireland initiative where the craft cider makers in the island of Ireland (i.e. those making cider from 100% Irish grown apples and not from any concentrate) have got together to support one another and to help promote Irish Cider. In the mind of most of the people cider and beer and put in the same bracket. However cider is, like wine, fermented cider is made but beer is brewed. This is quite a difference. Cider, true cider, is like wine, an annual product which has a vintage and will therefore vary somewhat in taste from year to year. If you’d like to read more on cider in Ireland you can have a look at some recent press reviews like this one from the Sunday Business Post Cider house rules Sunday Business Post 16 Sept 2012 and more recently in the Sunday Times (Irish edition, 11 November 2012).

 

If you’re following this blog and would like to keep up to date then please migrate with us to our new home Grapes and Apples which you’ll find here.

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There has been much discussion recently in the trade re the upcoming budget and how it’s going to affect us. Yes, as a country we’re broke, and we’ve nurses, teachers, fire-fighters and the Guards to pay and yes we accept that alcohol will have to be hit – we’re happy to take our fair share of the hit… well we’re not happy, happy is probably the wrong word, but we’re willing to take our share of the pain.

ImageBut I am fed up with it being disguised as a health thing; I’ve had enough of the anti-alcohol lobby claiming any excise hike as a victory. It’s nothing of the sort, it’s just blow to independent wine importers and retailers. Ok, obviously I work in the trade so I would say that, wouldn’t I? However – and hold on to your hats here – I also like a drink. Let me repeat that for any anti-alcohol campaigners out there: I. LIKE. A. DRINK. I rarely touch the spirits any more, I might have an odd cocktail but I like a beer or a glass or two of wine and, as you’re probably well aware by now, I’m also partial to a bit of cider. I thought nobody would put their head above the parapet and say it so I could hardly believe my eyes, in a good way, when Jennifer O’Connell writing in the Sunday Business Post last January (she now has a regular column in the Irish Times on a Wednesday) wrote “By all accounts, regular moderate drinking is the new alcoholism.” She went on to say “So imagine my relief when my unorthodox – I would say civilised – approach to the January thing got the official green light from the British Royal College of Physicians special adviser on alcohol, Sir Ian Gilmore, last week… Gilmore’s intervention was exactly the kind of mature and sensible advice that always seems to be absent from the ongoing debate in this country about our alcohol problem.”

I am fed up to the back teeth of hearing about alcohol being responsible for all the bad out there. It’s like the misuse of that quote “money is the root of all evil”. Just as the full quote is “the love of money is the root of all evil” it’s not alcohol that is the root of social problems in this country, it’s the abuse of alcohol. But what’s the answer? I don’t think prohibition worked. I don’t think a price hike will stop an alcoholic (if that’s the solution we wouldn’t have a drug problem anywhere) and I don’t think teenagers like to be preached at, does anyone? And there is absolutely no point in increasing excise (as a measure to combat alcohol abuse) if there is not also an introduction of a minimum price on alcohol. If you increase excise and at the same time you continue to allow supermarkets to sell below cost then all that will result in is job losses in the independent sector.

The anti-alcohol lobby is on a crusade, and anyone who is on a crusade behaves with all the religious fervour that a crusade entails, and it’s very hard to debate against this without sounding like you want all children to move straight from the breast to the whiskey bottle, or that you love nothing more than stepping over puking students on a Friday evening, or seeing A & E full to the brim on any given night with out-of-control drunks. Please, nobody wants that. We keep hearing about all these problems from the anti-alcohol brigade, and you know what, it could be easy to solve; what if we were to legalise and encourage the use of marijuana instead? If alcohol abusers switched to old fashioned weed, went home and rolled a joint or baked hash brownies to eat with their friends then, instead of violent drunks beating each other up and giving frontline staff a hard time, we’d have peace-loving stoners to deal with. Would the anti-alcohol campaigners be happy? Well maybe, but I seriously doubt it. So please stop citing these as the problems. They are not the problems, they are the symptoms (which is by no means trying to lessen their impact nor the what those amazing people have to deal with. I imagine more than a few nurses go home after a really shitty night and have glass of wine though). However could we maybe, while dealing with the symptoms, try and find out what the real problem is?

What is it the anti-alcohol campaigners really want? I’m not even sure they all have the same aim. Those in the medical profession give us facts and figures about cancers and liver damage etc. Ok, I can take that, I’m an adult, give me the facts and I’ll make up my mind. The non-medical campaigners talk about under-age drinking as if it were the worst thing ever. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see my teenagers coming home in a state and would obviously prefer if they didn’t touch a drop until they were 21, but I think the majority of us had a drink before we should have and didn’t turn into roaring alcoholics. Or even non-roaring alcoholics. And here’s the thing, the vast majority of teenagers experiment with alcohol. The vast majority of adults are not alcoholics. But the minority who bang the drum against alcohol seem to have a far louder voice than the rest of us.

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Sugar: Pure, white and deadly?

Anyone watch the recent RTE show “What’s Ireland Eating?” In it Philip Boucher-Hayes quoted a staggering fact: 1 in 4 children is overweight or obese and 2 in 3 adults. That’s a quarter of our children and two thirds of the rest of us, how does that compare with alcohol abuse? If you care about the nation’s health surely that’s something that needs to be tackled, talk about a future strain on the health service, a time-bomb ticking away. Anti-alcohol campaigners want advertising of the same to be banned from all sporting events, but how would they feel about it being substituted by some sugar -filled product instead?  Did you know that the body metabolises sugar and alcohol in much the same way? That a sugar addiction in your younger years can set you up perfectly to be an alcoholic later in life?

Those lovely people in the Revenue (many of whom enjoy a glass of wine of an evening, hello there) swoop in to our account at the end of the month and take the excise due to them from the previous one, and the vat on that excise too. It is not a case of us filing a vat return and then paying a bit later if things are tight right then. And this excise (and the vat on it) is taken out whether we have been paid for the wine we sold or not. So a rise in excise means the elastic holding us together is stretched even further and the price to you, the consumer will go up, obviously. Unless of course you buy it in a supermarket where it can be sold at a loss or with very little profit as the shortfall will be made up on the price of the salt-filled, calorie fuelled, ready-meal you might buy to go with it. But hey, the government are seen to be tackling at least one health problem, so that’s alright then.

The facts and figures on the drinks industry are there for all to see. You can see how much it contributes to the exchequer; you can see how many people it employs, directly and indirectly. These figures are often used to show how powerful the industry is. I am not going to dispute that, any large employer at the moment in particular wields some force. However as a trade we are often criticised for not being open enough about the dangers of alcohol. We are laughed at for the ‘Drink Aware’ campaigns, sure isn’t Drink Aware funded by the trade, how can you trust it? But hang on, we too have children – do you honestly think we want to encourage them to binge drink? We too have relatives who have suffered and continue to suffer from alcoholism; we are not advocating abuse of alcohol. It’s in our interest to encourage respect and moderation. Do the car manufacturers fund speeding awareness campaigns? Do the tobacco companies fund campaigns on the dangers of smoking? How about the racing industry, when was the last time you saw an advertising campaign highlighting the gambling problem? Fizzy drinks makers don’t tell children they should only be drinking the sugary concoctions a few times a week maximum. What do you want us to do? The drinks industry funds a well run drinking awareness campaign and it’s not good enough. It will never be good enough. Damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

Every culture that I can think of has a way of letting off steam through some way or another. Why do some of us abuse ours? I don’t think I can answer that here, now, but have a look at some of the links below and see what you think yourself. Rant over (for the time being).

Links:

Drink Aware: http://www.drinkaware.ie/

The link between sugar consumption in childhood and alcohol abuse later: http://agriculturesociety.com/healthy-living/alcohol-and-the-sugar-connection/

http://www.recoverytoday.org/blog/?p=357

Sugary drinks and alcohol – does mixing a high-energy, sugary, caffeine filled drink with alcohol make you far more prone to violence than if you were drinking alcohol on its own?:

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/red-bull-alcohol-and-drugs-can-spark-violence-56088.html

and: http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8532784

If you don’t drink to get drunk (and don’t get drunk every time you drink) if you can have 2 or 3 days a week off the booze then the chances are you’re not an alcoholic: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9001868/Abstaining-from-alcohol-for-two-days-is-a-sign-of-not-having-a-drink-problem-says-adviser.html

Sugar, an addictive drug: http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/02/04/stopping-addiction-to-sugar-willpower-or-genetics/

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763407000589

How much sugar’s in that? http://www.sugarstacks.com/

The RTE “What’s Ireland Eating” programme, scary. http://www.rte.ie/tv/programmes/whats_ireland_eating.html

Jennifer O’Connell’s Sunday Business Post article “Off Message”(behind a paywall): http://www.businesspost.ie/#!search/jennifer%20o’connell%20wine

Great report, long but worth reading http://www.scotlandfutureforum.org/assets/files/report.pdf

“There should therefore be a more honest approach to alcohol and drug policy, with the primacy of effort concentrating on prevention… Young people must be given more credible and truthful information about alcohol and drugs to enable them to make better choices….

The Home Office have identified certain predictive factors for illicit drug abuse. These include:

• parental discipline

• family cohesion

• parental monitoring

• peer drug use

• drug availability

• genetic profile

• self esteem

• hedonistic attitudes

• rate of risk to protective factors”

I’ve touched on some of the above in a previous post here. I strongly feel we need to prevent it happening rather than give out about the results, which means being honest with and educating our children, more expensive and time consuming perhaps.

A little caption competition, the entries will be posted here. For details on how to enter see the competition page on our website.

Here’s the picture:

Simon doing the punch down

J. Foley via twitter: “In vino everyass”

J. Doorley via twitter: “If we keep paddling like this, I’m sure we’ll make it to the Blue Light before closing!”

A. Collins (who is “taking this competition very seriously” and is in “to WINE it!”) via email: “Barrelly Alive, Reisling to the Challenge”

Eliza via twitter: “Simon is thinking he is glad he did not wear his mankini that day.”

M. Logan via twitter:  “earthy aromas with Armani notes; medium bodied well structured w good tannin & grip, interesting fruity finish!”

E. McNamara via twitter: “So Simon did the grapes make a noise when you stood on them?” “Not a lot, but they did let out a little wine…”

E. Corcoran via twitter: “Working holiday she said, it’ll be fun she said”

E. Corcoran via twitter: “Can you see what it is yet?”

Murray via comments, here: “Lost my bloody car keys again”

O. Kirwan via twitter: “Ok nobody move, I’ve lost my contact!!!”

A. Cotter via comments, here:

A man once went to the harvest,

Into a vat he climbed in mere jocks and vest,

He danced all around,

And finally found,

The grapes turned to wine of the finest!!

M. Tully via email:

Simple Simon said “I can tread on the vine”

So Jumping right in, he’s doing just fine!

But grapes are all squashed

And Simon got sloshed….

So now he’s doin the Time!!

(Boom! Boom!)

M. Tully via email: “Look Mammy No Feet

J. Kelly via twitter: “Oh look, I’ve found two blue plums too…”

J. Coffey via email:

There once stood a man in his pants,

in a vat full of wine down in France,

he really loved wine

and thought it to be fine

to stomp on some grapes and then dance

J. Moynes via email:

In a barrell somewhere in the Rhône,
Our hero once found himself thrown,
To the Frenchys’ delight,
It was three times his height,
And full of the grapes they had grown.

D. Harris via email:

Simon’s looking quite ‘ever-so-cute’

In his stripey new grape-treading suit.

Sadly, this vintage slumped –

To the drain it’s been pumped

Once they found he’d got bad athlete’s foot!

and another from D. Harris, also via email:

Disaster, he’s sunk! Where’s the key

For the rescue equipment – can’t see

Where it is? What’s that noise?

“I believe it’s his voice” …

Listen now, keep it down: “Leave me be!”

from A. Sweetman via comments here:  “A superior wine merchant — scraping the top of the barrel…”

AND THE WINNERS ARE……

First place, O. Kirwan :  “Ok nobody move, I’ve lost my contact!!!”

Second place, E. Corcoran : “Working holiday she said, it’ll be fun she said”

Third place, J. Moynes :

In a barrell somewhere in the Rhône,
Our hero once found himself thrown,
To the Frenchys’ delight,
It was three times his height,
And full of the grapes they had grown.

Everyone else was robbed, obviously, but thank you for entering.

The 2012 harvest in the Southern Rhône looks like it’s going to be a cracker – a small crop with clean, fully ripe grapes that have good levels of acidity and sugar levels that for once are relatively low. My own experience so far has been mixed and can be summed up as follows:

High points:

  1. Beautiful, warm weather with a constant northerly breeze. Perfect harvesting conditions.
  2. Wonderfully welcoming people at the cellar where my tanks are housed.
  3. A hugely knowledgeable friend in Denis Deschamps to nudge me in the right direction and question my decisions.
  4. Buying and filling my own fermenting tanks.
  5. Harvesters’ “pause café” at 10.30am (see photo) – the word ‘café’ is somewhat misleading.
  6. Tasting the first juice and then the first partially fermented wine (must be worth at least €100 a bottle it’s so good!).
  7. A lovely gîte in Collias where I’m staying, a little village on the banks of the Gardon, just upstream from the extraordinary Pont du Gard.

“pause café”

Low points:

  1. Having to wait a few days before getting really stuck in due to rain during the last week of August.
  2. Having to de-stem 200kg of Syrah grapes by hand because the winery can’t work with such a small volume. Talk about repetitive strain injury.

    de-stemming by hand

  3. The cockerel in the neighbour’s house who seemingly hasn’t got a clue whether it’s day or night and starts anywhere between 5.00-6.00am. Wouldn’t a battery powered alarm clock be nicer for everyone?
  4. The other neighbour’s dog who thinks it’s great fun to join in with the cockerel.
  5. Pieds et paquets – look it up.

 

yours truly

 

We’re organising a tweet up in Dublin for the last Wednesday in the month, August 29th. We’re going to centre this tweet up around a wine tasting session (hence the appalling pun in the above title) and for this reason are limiting the numbers to 30 max. It’s open to anyone who’s interested in wine and tweets – and of course you’d have to be over 18.

So if you’re interested here are the details:

7pm Wednesday, 29th August at Ely Bar & Brasserie in the IFSC, Dublin.

We’ll taste about 4 wines from the Rhône Valley, with a bit of cheese, bread etc, and Simon will talk you through them. Then there’s an option to stay on after for a meal and  – which ely have offered to do for us for just €30.00 and which will include 2 glasses of more delicious Rhônes.

To find out more contact either @breeze386 via twitter or myself @the_WineStore

(if you’re not on twitter apologies; a tweet up is when twitter folk get to meet in the real world and come out from darkened worlds – worlds that are governed by computers and phones – change out of pyjamas to look almost presentable, and then emerge blinking in the sunlight to see what’s been happening in the real world – it can be amusing to observe, from a distance).

We have a lovely book here to give to one of you – it’s a collection of photographs of the vineyards of the Rhône Valley. It should go to someone who likes photography and wine (and especially wines of the Rhône Valley). Is that you? Or do you know someone who fits the bill?

The photography is by Christophe Grilhé and the text by Christophe Tassan.

Nominate yourself or someone else and we’ll give each application due consideration. But to make it fair, and as this is open to those of you on twitter, facebook as well as through a comment here, please keep your nominations to about 140 characters.

We’ll post the book out to anywhere in Ireland and we’ll pick the lucky person by next Friday, 9th August.

…and we have a winner: @jonnyfallon via twitter

So has smuggled French wine has been spotted in Ireland? Wine that is brought in undeclared so no excise duty has been paid.

(You are of course perfectly entitled to buy wine in France and bring it in for your own consumption but selling it on is another thing.)

Excise duty on a case of wine (12 bottles of 75cl each) is €23.60 – ex vat – or  €1.97 a bottle – again ex vat. If you haven’t paid this cost, and then obviously don’t have this charge to pass on, your wine will be at a much more attractive price than wine from someone who has.

How can you tell? Well wine made for the French domestic market has an image of ‘La Marianne’ on the capsule or the screwtop, and wine for export does not. Capsules with ‘La Marianne’ have the French duty incorporated into the price of the capsule – you don’t just buy a ‘Marianne’ sticker for the top of your bottle, it comes as part of the capsule or on the screwcap.

But it is not always this black and white, at times a producer may not have enough of the export capsules to fulfil an order and we have on occasion imported bottles with ‘La Marianne’ on them, in this instance  the winemaker will take the hit – that is to say he or she will have to export having already paid French duty (which is about 2 cents a bottle roughly) but they will have decided that waiting the extra time for the export capsules to be ordered and delivered would not be worth it.

‘La Marianne’ as she appears on the top of a capsule

So if you see on the shelf of a shop, or in a restaurant some ‘La Marianne’ capsules it does not automatically imply the wine was bought from someone avoiding excise, but should you see a whole rake of wines adorned with ‘La Marianne’ well,  questions should be asked.

In today’s Irish Times, Monday July 16th 2012, the editorial comment looks at Rósín Shorthall’s chance to “make a lasting impact and improve public health” if she introduces a minimum price on alcohol and thereby reduces binge drinking. The piece also refers to the fact that “An Oireachtas committee suggested some months ago that online purchases of alcohol should be banned…”  Hmm, well I think it’s pretty obvious where I stand on that… “and supermarket and garage sales phased out.” Hmm, again I’m not sure. On the face of it that looks good for someone specialising in wine, eliminates a bit of the competition, eh? But should this be applied across the board; should all medical products, paracetamol, aspirin, cough and cold remedies be then only available in chemists? Bread only from a bakery and meat from the butcher? In an ideal world I’d say yes but I don’t think this is practical anymore.

I’d like you to please, please have a think about that. If you would like to continue being able to buy your wine online or in the supermarket could you please, please make your voice heard? Write to your local paper, your T.D.? Please.

When I argue for a minimum price on alcohol many around me say, inevitably, “well you would though, wouldn’t you?” but in fact a minimum price won’t affect me in a business sense at all, we are not competing there, we do not want to compete there. I have teenage children and that is why I would like to see the introduction of a minimum price. However I don’t think it is nearly enough. I am very concerned with the way we as a nation have at times taught, and at others observed without intervening, our children as they start drinking. From the parents who let their children have a glass or two before going to the teen disco to the ones who turn a blind eye “ah, it’s only [insert drink of preference here]”. We have a problem with our attitude towards alcohol in this country but price alone is not going to fix that. We have managed to turn drink-driving into a shameful thing, but it took a generation to filter down. Of course we need to be open with our children, to give them all the facts, and some choices too. But is that enough? I started smoking while still at school. I knew that cigarettes were harmful and addictive but not in any real sense – I was young, and death, cancer and the like were miles down the track, and anyway smoking was cool. I’m happy to say I don’t smoke any more but I don’t honestly know if adults lecturing me more forcefully would have dissuaded me from ever starting. However, so far at any rate, my children don’t seem to think smoking is as cool as I did. This is no doubt due to the banning of smoking on TV – no cool product placing –  and the recent banning of smoking in public. But a ban on sales or price hike alone is not necessarily going to work. At the risk of stating the obvious Prohibition didn’t work. Have a look at another recent Irish Times article , in particular this quote from the annual report of the charity Trust:

 in 2011 the very obvious increased easy availability of high-alcohol content products in supermarkets and eastern European shops added to at times unpredictable behaviour of some people using the services of Trust.

“This obviously led to increased potential for violence. Alcohol hand-wash from hospitals also emerged as an easy available source.”

“Alcohol hand-wash from hospitals” ?? How can we put a minimum price on that – or even introduce hours of business for the sale of such items?

I have to be careful here, I work in the trade and don’t want to start a back-biting session but as a parent I struggle to see how “alcopops” have, in any way, been a positive contributing factor to this country. They can only be aimed at young drinkers and with the alcohol content of up to 12% this is not a good thing (interesting to note when they first appeared this was at 5%). I think they are universally accepted as being alcohol for those who don’t like the taste of alcohol.

It’s not good enough to say to anyone under 18 “alcohol = bad” there has to be a better, non-preachy way to approach the subject. I think that the Ballymun Youth Action Project’s ‘Fact or Fiction: A study of attitudes to alcohol and related issues among young people in the Ballymun area‘ should be required reading, especially for any parent and all secondary school students and their teachers.

Here are some other claims, counter-claims and points that I found interesting, and links to the various articles on them:

Liver disease – levels in this country often put forward by the anti-alcohol lobby as evidence for alcohol damage, but perhaps it’s not just that simple. Ireland has the 2nd largest consumption of soft drinks in the world after the U.S. and did you know that soft drinks cause liver damage? Have a read here.

We are all now aware of  hereditary cancers, but what bout the alcohol gene: could this explain why we have such a high rate of alcoholism in this country? And how many of us were ever told to be careful of this, that if your grandparent or parent, uncle or aunt were an alcoholic it’s possible your chances could be higher too?

Violence and alcohol is what has recently propelled this debate into the spotlight with the recent Swedish House Mafia concert in the Phoenix Park being particularly noted, this is a quote from a piece by Karen Birchard for medical journal The Lancet in December 2000

It also emerged last week that senior doctors had met with the [Irish] Prime Minister in August to express their concern at the level of late night violent injuries showing up in casualty departments. The doctors said they were concerned at the levels of stimulant drinks and alcohol being consumed in many of these cases.

You can read the full piece here, and while I do not want to take away from the fact that alcohol was the main contributory factor we do need to look at how, when combined with other substances, its effect can be much worse.

added on 01 August 2012:

In the Drinks Business as it appeared their website 31 July 2012:

Alcohol Mixed with Energy Drinks “Potentially Fatal”

 

Ok, so I’m jumping on the band wagon, and perhaps I’m a little late to the party but hey, I’ve turned up and I’ve brought a bottle, and a book (for more on the book bit see below, the bottle is mine).

Often in novels one of the characters reaches for a glass of wine, or knocks over a bottle of Claret, or shows off their wine knowledge by referring to a well-known Bordeaux Château. For some reason this really annoys me, it’s like referring to a Renoir or a Picasso when talking of art – an obvious big name which in fact says nothing about your knowledge of the subject. There are so many ‘label drinkers’ out there. You know the type, you’ve sat beside them, the people who will sit next you at dinner and reel off all the amazing (expensive, critically acclaimed) wines they’ve drunk. It’s just a little boring. Although I don’t know a huge amount about wine compared to most who work in the trade I work beside someone who does, I’ve learnt a lot and I’m continuing to learn. I know when I like a wine and when I don’t, and according to the critics I’m not always ‘right’. But I do know that it’s almost impossible to say “I don’t like Merlot” and “I love Syrah” or “I can’t stand Chardonnay”. This is a bit like saying “I love chicken” when you don’t like curried chicken or won’t touch chicken nuggets. Or “I love denim” when you really mean you love your favourite jeans and not the patchwork denim flares you wore as a child in the 70s (ok maybe that was just me).

A certain Mr Grey may like certain leather products but that doesn’t mean he’ll be donning a pair of leather cowboy boots in the next chapter. It’s what is made out of the raw material, be it leather or grape that you will like or not – and how good the end result is will depend on the person who is creating that product.

Equally you can’t, like a certain Mr Grey, order a Pouilly-Fumé and know that it will always be good – Pouilly-Fumé is an AOC in the Loire Valley (AOC: Appellation d’Origine Controllée – a designated area, only wines grown inside the limits can put Pouilly-Fumé on the label) and unfortunately, as with Sancerre, Châteauneuf du Pape, Chablis, St Emilion etc., there is no way you can guarantee that all the producers in the region will make good wine. So, and at the risk or repeating myself, be a nerd and make a note or take a photo of the label of the next wine you like, then why not try something else from the same producer rather than something else made in the same region or from the same grape.

So, back to That Book. Yes I have read it. Yes I thought it was crap. I can mention so many other well-written books of the same genre. Well, I could possibly mention one, or at a stretch two, you know, that I’ve read reviews of. Anyway, I have a copy on the desk beside me. The blurb on the back says “this is a novel that will… stay with you forever” well, I’m getting rid of my copy, so that part is definitely not true and I will post it to one (un)lucky person, in a brown paper parcel.

Let me know, via twitter, facebook or if you’re very shy, email (wine@thewinestore.ie), the name of the producer of the Pouilly-Fumé we stock (big hint, right here) as well as why you’d like the copy of the book. I’ll pull a name out the hat by lunchtime tomorrow, which just happens to be Friday 13th – could be lucky for you.

New labelling regulations come into effect at the end of this month. We know a wine containing sulphites must state so on the label (see previous post on this) but from 30th June any wine that is fined using albumin or casein will have to state “and products made from milk/eggs” on a bottle that is labelled after the end of June 2012.

So vegans and vegetarians will now be a step closer to seeing if the wine they are drinking is suitable for their diet. Ox blood is no longer used in the wine making process (its use was banned in Europe in 1997), but agents extracted from swim bladders of certain fish can be and I am not sure where the use of gelatine as a fining agent stands in this, so far it would seem only milk and egg extracts will have to be stated. For more on fining agents have a look at this article by Jeff Chorniak.

(I came across the image below via twitter a while back. I’m afraid I don’t know who the original source is, so if anyone can let me know, please do.)

No such thing as a vegan?

See Wine Alley’s recent newsletter for more on this and on the new wording for labelling wine made from grapes grown organically (EU).

Robert Joseph (@robertjoseph) tweeted a link to a recent Snooth article by Gregory Dal Piaz about world wine consumption figures. Well, Ireland doesn’t make it into the top 11, but France does with 45.7 litres per person and where do you think the Vatican comes, ahead or behind the French figure? Oh, and Andorra makes it in there too! It’s worth a little look.