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Champagne & Sparkling Wine

  • L.L.A.M.A.

    Oddbins is delighted to announce the arrival of our newest ambassador, Guillermo. Although he is renowned as a hip hop artist, known as ‘L.L.A.M.A.’, his knowledge of wine is exceptional given his extended exposure to viticulture in his home country of Chile. We’re excited that he will be taking an active role, in stores, educating our fantastic staff on some of the new lines we have brought in for the Christmas period. While with Oddbins, Guillermo will be studying for the Llama of Wine (LW) qualification. For those of you unfamiliar with this remit of study, the Llama of Wine is the most challenging industry qualification a domesticated South American camelid can take, comprising of an all-encompassing theory exam and a gruelling 2 hour tasting exam. Guillermo has agreed to keep a diary of his experiences of this study process, we hope you’re looking forward to hearing about the trials and tribulations of his education as much as we are. Welcome to Oddbins, Guillermo and best of luck in your endeavours!

    Guillermo blog 1

    I imagine you’ve just read some Oddbins’ stuff, above right? Telling you how I’m a rap enigma and a sommelier pope. You can ignore all of that, the only person gifted enough to express the nuances of Guillermo’s story, is Guillermo. With that in mind, congratulations on reading my Llama of Wine blog; your reward is experiencing gonzo journalism the likes of which Kerouac would envy.

    For those of you not caught up; I recently escaped the vitriol of Chilean law enforcement on a trumped-up, ‘spit-by’ charge. Absolute sheeet! I mean, my hombre Carlos was totally guilty, but those elephant seals had it coming. So, I came to Oddbins; real hood high street heroes. Only a company that calls it as they see it and doesn’t isolate wine drinkers with esoteric bo****cks could secure the services of a true legend, like Guillermo. The Llama of Wine qualification; you ever heard of that Russian dog Laika, first dog in space? Well imagine that level of significance and difficulty and then times it by ten, that’s what I’m engaged in, wine immortality, that’s what I’m pursuing. It’s simple, I’ve conquered the music industry, now it’s time to conquer the wine world.

    I turned up to the Court of Llamas of Wine a little late for the first day, it ain’t a thing I just taste wine better when I’ve slept till 11. I kicked in the door - I wasn’t particularly angry I just don’t have apposable thumbs to work the knob - 10 camelids turned to face me. “Guillermo, I assume? You are quite late,” the tutor reprimanded. “The Sommelier Pope is never late, he arrives precisely when he means to,” (Gandalf reference, represent my boy in grey) I answered. Life lesson from Guillermo – Never apologise, never explain. “Yes well, please take a seat we’re currently engaging in a horizontal of 2004 Medocs.” I sat down because, well, ya boy loves west bank Bordeauxs. We tried some dope grand crus but for price point you know what stood out? Oddbins newest cru bourgeois they're stocking; Château le Meynieu Haut-Medoc. It was face-meltingly sophisticated fam. Rich blackcurrant, plum and bramble, perfectly harmonising with indicators of age like leather, cigar box and smoked game. Twas boom and at £19 even you non-rap-gods can afford it!

    Ch Meynieu blog

     

    “Good work everyone, let’s break for lunch. Can I ask you all to be back for 2:15 so we can start on Burgundy nice and promptly for the afternoon session?” The tutor announced to us. Most made a move for the door, however, I stayed seated; I was packing my own pino empanadas. I glimpsed a taupe-haired alpaca eye-balling me. I gave it right back, not blinking and spitting in the general direction of my spittoon. He changed direction to approach my desk, flanked by two lighter haired alpacas. “Good day. I am Jeremy Reese-Mongoose the 9th alpaca resident of the Earl of Lytton and you might be?” “Guillermo,” I replied bluntly, not breaking eye contact with Jeremy who was smirking at me. “I would shake hooves but I’m just about to eat and I’d rather not wash your new world slime off me. I doubt I’d be able to get the stench off before supper.” The other alpacas around him roared with laughter, spitting and stamping their hooves.

    Jeremy alpaca blog

    Every llama in Santiago used to come to me to pay respect, Godfather style, and now this short-ass domesticated piece of Hertfordshire is stepping to me, nah Che! This guy is 'más loco que una cabra con pollitos!'. l I stood up to impose my height advantage, “you think you know wine just because you’re wearing a monocle? What couldn’t afford two and make yourself a pair of glasses?” Their laughter stalled as Jeremy sized me up, “and I suppose you know more about wine do you, what did you call yourself? The sommelier Pope?” He drawled while fits of laughter re-erupted around him. “Prove it, beat me in a blind taste off,” Jeremy challenged. I stepped in real close and whispered, “O it’s on Jezza!”

     

    We stood facing one another, 2 glasses between us. Wine was poured from a labelless bottle. “And taste!” I got a big whiff, dark fruit, sweet spice, coffee. Same on the palate, it was super full-bodied with an amazing structure. “2014 Chateauneuf-du-Pape,” I bellowed.

    CNDP Remy Ferbras blog

    I saw Jeremy’s face and I knew I’d fragged this one, “2013 Cote-Rotie” he announced, smugly. “Correct!” The invigilator stated, while holding up the label to prove it. Even Jesus had off days but I wasn’t gonna take this lying down; like a common cow predicting rain. Sure, he’d bested me this time but believe it or not, we have other ways of settling conflict, than wine tasting, in the favelas. I kicked over the table and started swinging my neck, spraying spit everywhere, getting ready to show this posh poncho wanna-be how we throw down in Chile, neck-wrestle style. As I approached a female voice yelped “No!” I turned and was stunned to see the most beautiful llama I had ever seen, a prominent muzzle with perky ears and a round white face like a giant hamster. I started spitting for a different reason… “Wind your neck in, he’s trying to provoke you.” She said bundling me out of the door. Jeremy waved, calling after us “see you later Mo, don’t let the door hit you in your vestigial hump on the way out.”

    It took me a while to calm down but eventually managed to mutter a thank you, “no drama llama,” she replied. “What do I call you?” I enquired. “Lilyanna, Lily the Llama if you like” she responded, seeming a little coy “and you are?” “The rap enigma, that is Guillermo!” She chuckled, obviously digging my vibe. “You’re not like the other llamas I’ve met in the wine industry, who are you representing?” “Oddbins, the greatest wine merchants in the world, the only company worthy of Guillermo ambassadoring them!” She clucked again, “do you want to go share a bottle of Veuve Clicquot NV, they’re on offer at Oddbins at the moment?” “That sounds lovely,” she replied.

    Veuve NV blog

    Relax hombres, nothing happened, we just chilled, drank some dope Champagne and talked about wine yeah … You know what happens when I make my move, updates on my life, same time same place, peace!

  • Chimpanzees and Christmas Giveaways

    Is there anything better than a good giveaway? Suppose it depends on what’s being given away really, if someone’s trying to gift you a pair of used sports socks you’d probably make a polite excuse and carry on with your existence, prize free. Thank goodness, we at Oddbins feel we’ve got customer giveaways right, in fact, we’re getting rather renowned for them. With Christmas fast approaching *gulp* this week we have officially launched our earth-shattering winter promotion… drum roll, please…

    This year we’ve teamed up with Karma Group to send one Oddbins customer and 9 of their friends to the luxury resort Karma Kandara in Bali, for a week! This includes return travel to the resort in Bali and Luxury pool villa accommodation for 10. While in Bali the winner and their 9 guests will enjoy an exclusive wine tasting experience in Bali’s best panoramic wine cellar, with an amazing selection of wines matched with canapés. The winner and their friends will be able to indulge in local delicacies in the comfort of their own villa, hosted by an Executive Chef, who will curate a tailored menu to the guests. Finally, the prize recipients will enjoy exclusive access to a VIP table for an amazing sunset beach party, Ibiza style session, featuring an incredible soundtrack, Tapas and a magnum of Rosé.
    To enter, simply make any purchase with Oddbins in stores or online, there is no limit on the number of entries that can be made but must be in by midnight of the 17th January 2018.

    However, we thought before we look forward, let’s have a peak backwards. Last year, throughout the Christmas period, Oddbins customers had a chance to win a fantastic 2-week trip to Malaysia and Borneo. In September that lucky winner jetted off and fortunately for us, she agreed to write us a blog, to document her amazing experience. Thanks Katy!

    We hope you all enjoy reading about Katy and Brenda’s trip as much as we did and be sure to get your entries in for this year’s giveaway, this time next year we could be telling your winning story!

    Katy Gwilliam – Oddbins customer for many Years.
    "I usually pop into store for wine or Prosecco. My favourite bottle is
    Follador Prosecco Superiore."

    Katy winning

    I couldn’t believe it when I received the phone call from Oddbins to tell me I was the winner of an incredible prize – a two-week holiday in Malaysia and Borneo. Things like this never happen to me! I’m still pinching myself!

    After months of anticipation, the adventure finally began when Brenda (the lucky friend who got to come with me) and I arrived at Heathrow airport on 1 September. We went straight to the Premier Lounge for a glass of champagne before boarding the plane for our 12-hour flight.

    Upon arriving in Kuala Lumpur, we were greeted by our friendly driver who took us to the Traders Hotel. Our room overlooked the Petronas Towers and we had spectacular views of some of the city’s most famous landmarks.

    KatyKL

    We were desperate to sample the local cuisine, so travelled to KL’s famous Jalan Alor street to check out the food markets. The entire street was lined with hawker stall after hawker stall: dumplings, seafood, noodles, barbecued meats, curries, durian – pretty much anything you could imagine. The dishes were not only delicious, but also ridiculously inexpensive, so inexpensive, in fact, that we considered having two dinners! But that would be greedy…

    The next day we ventured to Batu Caves where an enormous statue of the Hindu god of war, Murugan, stood tall at the foot of a steep staircase. We climbed the 272 steps leading into the caves, making sure to keep a tight hold of our bags and phones so they couldn’t be snatched by the monkeys. Once inside, I got the opportunity to feed these cheeky creatures. They made no attempt to put on airs and graces, but they were very cute!

    KatyBC

    The next morning, we flew to Kota Kinabalu in Borneo. Having checked the weather religiously for the past two weeks, I was convinced our entire holiday was going to be rain and storms. Lo and behold, when we touched down at KK airport it was chucking it down! “Oh well – at least we’re in paradise!”, I laughed to Brenda. Almost as quickly as it had started though, the rain stopped and in its wake formed the most breath-taking sunset I’d ever seen. As it turned out, this was to be the weather pattern for the rest of our holiday: blazing hot sunshine in the morning, a quick shower in the afternoon, and stunning sunsets in the evenings. The perfect tropical paradise.

    KatySuns

    We were driven to the amazing hotel that was to be our home for the next three nights: the 5* Shangri-La Rasa Ria resort. This place was heavenly! The people were so friendly and nothing seemed like too much trouble. The food was exquisite and every morning we were presented with the biggest buffet you can imagine – cuisine from all corners of the globe. I didn’t let a day pass without having both a prawn cracker and a chocolate-covered marshmallow, simply because I could!

    Our stay at the Rasa Ria was the perfect time to relax and make the most of the sea, sand and sun. The hotel had its own private beach, which offered a host of water sports and activities. One day we decided to try out the parasailing, which was brilliant fun as we floated 100ft above the boat, taking in the view of Mount Kinabalu in the distance.

    KatyPara

    During our stay, we managed to clock up five massages between us, all of which were divine! We sampled the food at all five of the resort’s fantastic restaurants, even experiencing a fire-eating show at the Malaysian banquet on one night.

    After a few days of chilling, it was time to visit the jungle. We flew from Kota Kinabalu airport to Sandakan, where we were transported to the MY Nature Resort – an eco-friendly resort located in one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world.

    Here we watched flying squirrels jump from tree to tree as it grew dark and enjoyed some of the local delicacies before bed. The next morning, bright and early, we set off for the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok. We arrived just in time to see the babies being fed, which was highly entertaining. It was easy to identify the bully of the group – he swung audaciously from pillar to post, grabbing fruit from the other orangutans who dared to get in his way! They were so funny to watch as they play fought and hung upside down from the monkey bars.

    KatyAnimals

    As we moved through the centre, we were also lucky enough to see pygmy elephants – baby-faced elephants that are far smaller than their fully-grown counterparts, with oversized ears and plump bellies. The sun bears also came out to play. These cute creatures are the smallest bears in the world at around 120cm in height and are classified as ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

    Later that day, we caught a boat to our next destination: Abai Jungle Lodge. Here our brilliant guide, Abbas, took us on a river boat trip to explore the local wildlife. The highlight of this trip was seeing a mummy and baby orangutan in the wild – a really rare sight, considering they are highly endangered and there are only around 50,000 left in the world. The Proboscis monkeys were also a great spot. They are famous for their big noses – the bigger the nose, the more attractive the male! After a brilliant couple of days in the jungle, we travelled back to the Shangri-La for the final leg of our trip. Arriving at the resort was like coming home! We made the most of our chill-out time here, with massages, sun-bathing and tons of food and we even managed a night out on the waterfront in Kota Kinabalu, which ended with a dance-off against the locals in the town’s famous 999 club!

    KatyRiver

    Before we knew it, the time had come to fly home. After a teary farewell and goodbye photo, we jumped in the taxi back to KK airport and prepared ourselves for the 18-hour journey back to London.

    All in all, it was a truly fantastic trip with so many special memories and amazing experiences. I cannot recommend Borneo enough and have been waxing lyrical about my brilliant holiday to anyone who will listen! Thank you so much to Oddbins for making this happen. I couldn’t have asked for a better prize :)

  • The Acts of The Ape-ostles

    The Chapel of Saint Paraffino has a guest speaker. While preparing to regale the congregation with his annual round up of the year, and scanning his extensive notes, the priest has succumbed to a fit of the vapours. Passionate Chimp, on a visit to family members more observant than himself, has agreed to step in, his suspicion of creationism outweighed by a fundamental decency and a constant urge to show off. He does not realise that he's about to find out whence cometh his name...

    Passionate-Banner

    On one side of the pulpit sits a litany of sadness and regret, on the other an illuminated manuscript of delight and success. As he declaims them to the gathering, he feels a growing sense of absurdity, that the breathless onslaught of surprise, shock and dismay has made it difficult to tell good from bad, major from minor, shit from shoeshine. Eventually he alights upon an improbability so stunning that his composure dissolves entirely. And it's listed in both of the texts...

    L.City

    With a howl of anguish, he tears up the scripts and hurls the shreds of paper into the blinding light of the clerestory windows, a fluttering kaleidoscope of sensory disintegration. The congregation rise and fill their pockets with the fragmented memories as they descend, a pick and mix of celebration, loss and wince-worthy reminder.

    Passionate Chimp slumps over the lectern, deep in thought. He hasn't had a bad year, if he takes away the things he could do nothing about. Leicester City notwithstanding, there was plenty of good sport, a decent summer, front row seats at a concert by his hero. Who knows, maybe it's time to break out the communion wine. But dear God, not that one. Or that. And especially not...He shudders and makes a phone call, a quick prayer to Bacchus for which he imagines the Lord will forgive him.

    Chimp-Banner

    Five minutes later his fellow disciples of Dionysus arrive in an encouragingly rattling van, and within moments the 12 Chimps of Christmas are spreading the gospel of celebration. Whether rejoicing at the end of one year or psalming the possibilities of the next, all are settling into each other's company with the liberal libations of Laurent-Perrier Non-Vintage, and Prosecco Ca'Rosa, and so much more besides. And Passionate Chimp smiles benignly upon the flock, asking himself a couple of questions. What do we really have if we don't have each other? Should we not first and foremost keep an eye on one another, whatever the tidings? And the big one...

    LP

    ...How am I going to get the church to pay for all this fizz? Yikes! They'd better be having a sale in January!

    CaRosa

    A happy and healthy New Year to all of you, and be sure to watch out for each other.

  • The Long Arms of The Law

    Hilarious Chimp is listening to records. At the moment it is the turn of Pithecanthropus Erectus by Charles Mingus, a long-standing family favourite. The music is terrifically exciting, with five men seeming to make the noise of eleven, and Hilarious is playing it at an appreciable volume while whirling around the room on a unicycle and whooping and a-hollering with the band! Unfortunately, his neighbours are rather less appreciative. They've seen the video Hilarious made recently with all of his other Oddbins cohorts, and they didn't find quite the same joy in its assorted muckslinging or the Mingus-maybe melodies that have sent the chimp back to his record collection. And now this racket! Tired of his primate pranks, they have summoned the long arm of the law...

    Hilarious-Banner

    In the conference room of a swish hotel, Sassy Chimp is delivering a seminar entitled 'Writing On The Wall: When To Flog Your Business, and Where You Won't Be Found'. It consists, in large part, of the murky tales surrounding his sale of 'Monkey Vegas', a huge empire founded on teaching circus skills and party tricks to primates. By what he described as an 'uncanny coincidence', Sassy sold the business at an eye-watering profit exactly one month before animal acts were banned from circuses. "I didn't so much avoid the country after that, it was more a case of simply being somewhere else...". He has come back to help his friends and family with the cheerful invasion of Oddbins, whence he has graced his event with ample supplies of Terra Noble Reserva Terroir Syrah, a deep and deliciously savoury red from the Maule Valley in Chile, together with a Chardonnay from the same winery, a warmly approachable white that partners delightfully with the hors d'oeuvres he's provided. While he's pointing to a Venn diagram on a Bo-Nobo board, he is discreetly called out of the room and taken into a police station.

    Terra-Noble-Syrah

    Terra-Noble-Chardonnay

    "...and he says you're the only person he knows who can pay for his bail. Well, you and..." consulting a notebook, "...Billy Expletive Smart. Funny bloke considering he doesn't even crack a smile!"

    "Funny?"

    "Yeah. He's cracked everybody up round here, playing table tennis with the boys. 10p, 50p, whatever, absolutely thrashed all of them. Funny thing was, he was riding a unicycle throughout. Even when we brought him in he pedalled out to the panda. Then he made the handcuffs disappear and we found them in the glove box."

    "How much is his bail exactly?"

    Sassy-Banner

    "Well, he's clearly a chimp of good character. In fact, we considered dropping all charges when we told him we don't usually have much to do with hominoids, and he said that's because you can get cream for them nowadays. If we can find a caring home for him we'll forget the whole thing - you seem to have done better than he has out of circus regulations, maybe you owe it to him to see he doesn't spend another Christmas in the park? Meanwhile, we'll set him up in Oddbins and the staff will take him under their loving wing! Now,  back in the car and you can pick up your records while we bring your neighbours in for crime against hilarity. A couple of days in the cooler listening to Kenny G should teach them what side their bread's buttered!"

    In the back of the car, Hilarious and Sassy are making up. "So, Hilarious, 50p a game, you say? I'm sure I could fix you up with plenty more games, and at a pound a pop! How about we seal the deal with a bottle of this Tarlant Champagne..."

    Tarlant

  • BLACK FRIDAY

    Before we get accused of cheap anti-Americanism, may we begin by saying that we are big fans of American imports. It goes without saying that we love American wine, and we obviously finished all series of The Sopranos/Mad Men and The Wire before they went mainstream at the water cooler, because we’re just totally cool and zeitgeisty like that.

    However, there is one US import that we have watched increasing in popularity in the UK with growing trepidation: Black Friday. This mega discount-fest (held on the Friday after Thanksgiving) has been running in America since before the Second World War, but has only really made its mark on the UK shopping calendar in the last few years. Since then, it has raged out of control to the extent that some industry experts expect internet sales to surpass £1bn on Black Friday this year, making it the biggest shopping day of the year.

    Now, we are a retailer. We sell things, and we are as fond of a spot of rampant consumerism as much as the next capitalist. But we can no longer sit back and ignore the fact that the increasing power of Black Friday is having a terrible impact on customers and retailers alike.

    Rush

    To start with, it’s dangerous. In the US, there are countless examples of customers and employees being injured and even dying in pursuit of a so-called bargain. There’s even a website dedicated to detailing its cost on human life and wellbeing: blackfridaydeathcount.com. One woman was arrested outside of a Toys 'R' Us store after pushing in the queue then threatening to shoot other shoppers who complained. Let’s imagine THAT moving scene on Christmas morning: “Mommy got you the VTech Toot Drivers Super RC Raceway you wanted, Chuck, but she had to threaten some other naughty shoppers with a handgun to get it. MER-RY CHRISTMAS!” Admittedly things are not as bad in the UK yet, but the mad scenes of violence across the country last year are a harbinger of disaster if retailers continue with this insane one-upmanship.

    Discount Poster

    The next problem comes with the ‘discounts’ offered. Yes, there are undoubtedly some genuine savings out there, but in such limited supply that they are impossible to find, and lead to the scenes of mayhem and aggro above. But so many retailers just go down the age-old, shonky route of inflating their prices to improve the perceived discount: that electric banana peeler was never £50 and it still isn’t worth the £10 they are trying to charge for it now. At Oddbins, we are always banging on about the subterfuge of high-low discounting and the importance of keeping prices stable and Black Friday has become a monstrous illustration of the art of artificial discounts.

    Black Friday PosterIt could be argued that Black Friday is good for economic growth, but that doesn’t add up. In the UK last year, a study showed that Black Friday failed to increase profits or sales over the entire Christmas shopping period. Instead, it has concentrated the eight-week Christmas shopping period into one day, while severely dampening spending before and after. This puts massive pressure on the retail infrastructure with websites crashing, warehouses thrown into disarray and shops filled with panicking hordes. This translates into a much, much poorer shopping experience for customers, unless you really enjoy being put in a headlock by a sweaty lunatic who wants the last electric banana peeler in stock.

    So, in the spirit of peace and goodwill to all, we challenge all other UK retailers to join us by refusing to engage with this nonsense: it is a race to the bottom which benefits no-one. So, let’s reject Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Sofa Sunday, Gray Thursday and avoid why-have-I-spent-a-month’s-wages-on-this-useless-crap-Wednesday, or, at least, summon our national pride and agree an amnesty until the traditional British day when retailers are permitted to ruin Christmas by promoting massive sales: Boxing Day.

  • THE GREAT CHAMPAGNE GIVEAWAY CONTINUES AND FREE DELIVERY ON ONLINE EXCLUSIVE CHRISTMAS GIFTS!

    With Christmas fast approaching we’ve finally worked out what present we’re going to ask Mother Christmas for. You might be surprised to find out that it isn’t actually a wine. What we want is a smartphone that does this (Hint: you’ll have to click that linky thing to find out what it does).

    Mrs Christmas you are so right. She is you know. As wise as she is beautiful and fun. Not only is this great lady still giving away copious amounts of free Champagne on our Twitter page and publishing stories about ants on our blog, but she has also put together a mighty fine selection of handpicked presents ranging from £25 to £125, ready wrapped and including free delivery, which are available exclusively here on our website. But if you’re still not sure what to get for that special someone, Mrs Claus has also, with help from her band of merry penguins (elves were sacked a while back, she has a short temper, she also let the reindeer go and replaced them with a Mini Cooper), made these Oddbins Gift Cards that can be spent on our website. So you can give someone the fun of choosing their own perfect wine. We love Mother Christmas, but we’re also a little bit scared that she might fire us too.

    Well of course you can Ms Blanchett. And you’ve made a mighty fine choice by coming to Oddbins. Disclaimer: We’re not sure if Cate Blanchett has ever really been to an Oddbins. But she’d be more than welcome if she did, especially if she needed help with Champagne and doubly so if she leaves Woody Allen behind because there’s something we find a little unsettling about him, but we can't quite put our finger on exactly what it is. However, we’d rather see you. So why not come and peruse our bubbly delights. We’ve got awesome deals like £14 off Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top, £10 off Laurent-Perrier Rosé and £11 off Louis Roederer Brut Premier. We’ve got the holiday classics like Pol Roger, Veuve Clicquot and Ruinart. We’ve got great value smaller producers like Drappier, H.Blin and Antoine Remy. We’ve got those obscure but wonderful Champagnes like the organic Canard-Duchêne Green and even a handful of the oaky Billecart-Salmon Sous Bois. And if for some crazy reason you fancy a break from Champagne, we may be able to tempt you with the Domaine de la Taille aux Loup “Triple Zero” from Montlouis in the Loire or even a couple of fantastic English sparkling wines. Who knows, you might bump into Ms Blanchett as you’re browsing, although obviously we can’t guarantee that.

    Well yes Mr Nicholson, it might well be. Caveat: Oddbins believes that beer is actually the second best drink in the world after wine, but we recognise that opinions in this matter may vary. If you’ve popped into an Oddbins shop recently you’ll probably have realised that we’re pretty excited about the craft beer revolution going on throughout this great nation. We now stock beers from over 50 different breweries local to our shops, with each shop having its own unique range, and we even have some mixed cases on Oddbins.com. In fact, we’ve got so enthusiastic about good beer that we’ve produced a new one in collaboration with one of our favourite breweries: East London Brewing Company. Oddbins Nº1 (£2.95 a bottle through selected shops or available by the case online) is a limited edition amber ale infused with festive spices: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, orange peel, nutmeg and vanilla. It’s an intensely aromatic brew with flavours of mulling spices, orange and ginger marmalade and all those festive treats like lebkuchen, pfeffernüsse and stollen. This dry and subtly hoppy winter beer is the perfect match for turkey and all the trimmings, mince pies and cheese or just watching the snow fall. Unless of course you are in a remote hotel with a scary old lady, busy carpets and a child on a tricycle, in which case drop the beer and run…That’s all from us, except to say that if you need any help with that chocolate advent calendar, we’d be happy to oblige…
  • ANYONE FOR TENNIS?

    We love a bit of Wimbledon even if it does seem to ruin the weather every year. So in this edition of Oddnews we will be exploring the fortnight’s news through the medium of tennis. Before rain stops play, lets crack on. Quiet please. Mr Murray to serve first. Play…

    It isn’t just Andy Murray who has strong opinions about fruit flavours, you guys do too. This was proven earlier this month when 8,136 of you turned out for Round One of The Palate 2013, our search for the UK’s finest amateur wine taster. We’ve now marked all the entries and whittled it down to the top 150 scores. These 150 winners will be coming back into our shops this weekend to collect their prizes and enter the Quarter Final. If you missed Round One or you weren’t one of the lucky winners, don’t worry, we are offering a limited number of wildcard entries into the Quarter Final. All you have to do is head to any Oddbins shop, or the Three Wine Men event in Edinburgh, this weekend (Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 June) and take part in a blind tasting. If your answers are good enough, you might find yourself jumping directly into the Semi Final, bringing you tantalisingly close to winning that holiday of a lifetime for two to Australia and New Zealand. To find out more about the competition and get a cheeky hint to help you with this weekend’s blind tasting click here. For the white wine in Round One, 50% of our entrants found grapefruit flavours, 38% ticked peach, 2% worryingly tasted penguin, but luckily nobody got banana. Andy will be happy (he does have emotions you know, remember last year’s Wimbledon final?).
    If you close your eyes while the tennis is on, you’d be forgiven for thinking that somebody had snuck into the primate enclosure at the zoo and was cruelly punching the baboons and poking the gibbons with a stick. When the grunting and squealing has finished, the tennis players then start shouting about themselves. Serena Williams once said “I’m really exciting. I smile a lot, I win a lot, and I’m really sexy.” We find this level of confidence quite inspirational and have decided to throw caution and modesty out of the window. Although Louis Roederer’s Cristal gets all the fame and accolades, their Brut Premier Champagne is simply awesome. A relatively high proportion of the wine is aged in oak casks, which is quite rare for Champagne. It is matured in the bottle for more than twice the length of time that wine law requires. These two factors give the Brut Premier an enormous depth of flavour and rich, nutty, toasty and yeasty flavours. And what makes it even more incredible is that it’s currently down to just £32 a bottle. Maybe Serena, Anna and the gang are on to something: it felt pretty good to shout about how good this Champagne is. But we’d better calm down before we tell you it’s sexy and get eaten alive by the Portman Group.
    Billie Jean King knew a thing or two about obsession: hers drove her to win Wimbledon ten times. One of our obsessions is beer. If you head into one of our shops today you’ll find two beers from the FIX Brewery in Athens (inspired by one of our other obsession: Greek wines), the Bavarian-style Huber Bock from the Minhas Craft Brewery in Wisconsin and an incredible array of local ales in support of Britain’s booming brewing scene. To help Andy Murray feel more at home in London over the next two weeks, we’ve brought a selection of Scottish ales from Fallen Brew Company, Knops Beer, Alechemy Brewing and Stewart Brewing down south. These are available in our shops in Balham, West Hampstead, Crouch End and London Bridge but, if you can’t make it to one of our shops, why not pick up our Local Beer Tasting Case online. The first instalment features a wide variety of styles from six of our favourite new London breweries. Our obsession may not change the world, but it makes it taste sweeter than nailing a cross court passing shot.That’s all from us, new balls please.

    P.S. Come on Murray.

  • BEST OF BRITISH

    Feels good to be British, doesn’t it? Train prices are on the rise again. Who cares? We’re really good at cycling, so we’ll take the bike to work; we might even grow some sideburns while we’re at it. Although our economy doesn't seem to be able to magic itself out of the quicksand of financial despair it is languishing in, a "ginger wizard" has given us hope in the sandpit. Our summer sky looks a bit like a bruise that might spit on us at any moment, but pugilist Nicola Adams’ smile made us feel warm inside and we wish we could’ve gone to Nando’s with her. Luckily there is more sport on the way soon. But for now let us take you on a mystical journey to explore some other causes of national pride…

    New Gusbourne Sparkling Rosé - £30You are walking through a rose garden in rural Kent on a crisp, clear morning. Double Delight roses nod in the breeze like rocking bowls of raspberry ripple ice cream, peachy Belle Epoques catch the early sun and dew glistens on the velvety petals of Deep Secrets. But then the gentle scent of one particular delight catches your attention. It blushes delicately as you turn to look at this quintessentially English rose; but it’s not actually a rose, it’s a rosé, it’s Gusbourne’s Sparkling Rosé. This is so new to our range we haven’t had a chance to send it to our shops yet. So currently this is a web exclusive. We think this is the finest English Sparkling Rosé on the market, if not the finest English Sparkling Wine, fullstop.

    Bulldog Gin - £25.75You are careering down a narrow cobbled street, bouncing of the red brick either side, a bulldog snapping at your heels. Past the back doors of the curry house, the kebab house, the Chinese and then the Italian Trattoria, the heady aromas of exotic spices and herbs mingling in your nose as you suck in breath from the exertion. But the dog is gaining on you, its stumpy legs pummelling the pavement, jaws gnashing in its wrinkly and determined face. You spin around the corner with the grace of a ballerina, crashing into the pub and slam the door on the mutt's nose. Your great escape is complete, you eye the bar for the refreshing drink that will calm your nerves and you see Bulldog Gin. That’ll be just the tonic after the thrill of the chase. A very cool British gin that has made it big in America, but has come back especially to grace our shelves. Bored of the same old gins? Try this. Woof.

    Smokehead Malt Whisky - £33.25You walk out of the cold wind flecked with sea spray through the door of the smokehouse. The smoky warmth envelopes you like billowing duvet. A rugged Scot with the enormous tattooed arms of a sailor is flinging clods of peat on to the fire with a shovel. A rogue lump flies off the spade and hits you firmly in the face causing you to stagger backwards into the fisherman who has just arrived with his haul. You slip on a haddock and fall at the feet of the fisherman, coming to a final rest on his rubber galoshes covered in seaweed. That’s what the manly Smokehead Islay Malt Whisky tastes like and it’s good. An independent bottling from an undisclosed Islay distillery that is not for the faint hearted but is flying off our shelves. Time to man up and become a smokehead.

    Local Beers

    As you move around this land of hops and barley, don’t forget to pop into your nearest Oddbins. Each one has different local beers specific to them. So you might find Tempest's World of Pain in Scotland, Bristol Beer Factory's Bête Noir in Clifton, Moncada Brewery’s Summer Ale in London, a Quantum Brewery collaboration with Black Isle Brewery in our Chorlton shop or something from Old Dairy Brewery in our Tunbridge Wells branch. Wherever you are, a local beer will give you a good portion of national pride.

    That's all from us. Until next time, keep flying the flag.

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