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Fine Wine

  • Chimps Tea Party

    The door looks like it could lead into any pantry. And it does, sort of. A few square feet of crockery, cutlery, non-perishable foods, general kitchen clutter pushed out of the way into one small room. But what's down that little winding staircase at the end? Darkness, perhaps danger, a world of adventure? As our eyes adjust, we can make out wood, glass, a stillness perhaps eternally undisturbed, a sense that the place can get on quietly with its work without our help. As our ears attune to subliminal Gregorian chant, we fumble around the wall until we find an ancient Bakelite switch, and...

    Snazzy-Banner

    ...welcome to Snazzy's wine cellar! The chant gives way to the Ronettes singing Sleigh Ride, and strings of flashing Christmas lights adorn row upon row, rack upon rack of wines, a bottle encyclopedia of every vinous fascination, a cornucopia of Dionysian ecstasy! And certain gaps suggest that Snazzy is at home, dot dot dot...

    A chimp's tea party is a different thing altogether when Snazzy is hosting it. His guests are nonplussed, having brought along bananas, party blowers, a great many custard pies and even some tea. Instead, Snazzy has laid on some of their favourite wines from their time at Oddbins and they are swirling, sniffing and slurping. And these are truly fabulous wines. While they have all tried any number of wonders from Oddbins' glittering range, Snazzy has gone for the ones we'd normally save for a special occasion. Like a Christmas gathering!

    Notorious-Banner

    Notorious is enthused by a bottle of Gaja Dragomis Barolo"What I like about a good Barolo is that it will age for 20 years, even more, but if you open it now and let it breathe for a good while, it still delivers a profoundly rewarding wine experience. Oh my soul, herbs, spices, berries all coming together on the palate to give you what amounts to a delicatessen in a bottle. Made from the Nebbiolo grape, by the way, which is so named from the Nebbia, an October mist which used to herald the beginning of the harvest. They're rather more scientific nowadays." The other chimps are impressed by Notorious' fondness, unaware that his knowledge stems from time spent with a protective Sicilian family who had looked after him during a couple of, let's say, sensitive months.

    Barolo

    Crazy is enamoured of the Man O' War Dreadnought Syrah"This is from a world class winery, this is, 150 acres over a big spread of plots on Waiheke Island in Auckland Bay. Some of the steepest land in the area, giving the grapes a whole load of sunshine but with a cool breeze from the sea so they don't get too ripe and lose their unique character. Another savoury, Christmas dinner-type wine, with a blueberry and pepper vibe, stylistically not too far from a Northern Rhône masterpiece." What Crazy doesn't tell them is that he was drawn to the wine because "Dreadnought" sounded like his unstoppable approach to his social life.

    Dreadnought

    Snazzy himself is absorbed by a Chardonnay, World's End "Rebel Rebel" from California's Napa Valley. During the afternoon he has been asked once or twice how he funds his lavish lifestyle, breezily replying "oh, friends in high places, you know. And a couple on low places, just in case...". Right now, however, he is utterly consumed. "Now here's a winemaker for you," he announces to the diminishing attention of his friends. "Jonathan Maltus, played a big part in the Garagiste movement of the 1990's. Hugely impressive CV - Château Teyssier in Saint-Emilion, where you can also find his benchmark wine 'Le Dome', and now this." His eyes screw shut in a growing transport of vinous delight. "So complex yet so vibrant, pineapple and even pear drops on the nose, a crisp palate with the merest smidgen of oak, and that finish, it's still going on, it's, it's..." 

    Rebel

    He looks to the end of the table for approval and elaboration, an appropriate end to his rhapsody. "S'alright, I s'pose," concludes Outspoken. Snazzy looks at him as his face crumbles with disappointment. As his friends try to suppress their laughter, a custard pie hits him on the back of the head. Turning, unwisely, to see where it came from, two more hit him on either side of his face. The table falls into screeching, party blower uproar as Loveable pours a pot of cold tea down the front of Snazzy's trousers, and as he tries to back off he falls over a banana skin.

    Chimpmas has arrived.

  • An Oddbins Peek Into Burgundy

    Following the recent revamp and launch of our new Burgundy range, on 6th July we hosted a Winemakers dinner at the impressive ICA on Pall Mall. Attended by customers, lifestyle press, wine bloggers, some lucky staff and three of the winemakers, it was a night full of gorgeous food, great company and even better wine!

    The night began with guests mingling over glasses of Pol Roger champagne, getting to know each other and becoming increasingly eager about what the night was to offer.

    Everyone then made their way through to the dining room. It looked incredible. We managed to snap a few pics before it was full of people, some of which included our wonderful trio of winemakers, Nicolas, Bernard and Stéphane. Cheeky!

    The dinner kicked off with Angela (our Events Specialist extraordinaire), welcoming everyone to the dinner designed to showcase our dazzling new Burgundy range and show people the passion behind the bottles. Next, Jenny, the buyer responsible for the new range, told everyone tales of her buying trip to the region, the adventures in her little rental and the benefits of Google Translate! Telling her story of discovering these wines and being welcomed into the homes and cellars of our honoured guests, we began to fully understand why these wines were as stand out as we were about to discover.

    Face to face with the menu packed full of wine and food pairings, the room began to get excited.

    The first batch of wines were on the table and ready to be poured, so of course we obliged. We helped ourselves to glasses of Remoissenet Puligny Montrachet 2014 and Roche de Bellene Bourgogne Pinot for starters. One word? Incredible! These exceptional fine wines complemented the first course perfectly. Black fig and taleggio terrine and brioche tuille. We're salivating just thinking about that pairing and yes, it tasted as good as it looked. See!

    A few glasses down (small glasses may we add), and everyone was ready to devour the starter. Potel-Aviron's Bourgogne Aligoté was absolutely perfect with this starter and had a beautiful citrus sweetness. We even overheard someone saying it needed to come with a "warning to be restrained" as it was truly "gluggable"! Our new favourite word for sure.

    Next up was the main event - lamb rump, shallot puree, purple potato and rosemary dauphinoise paired with six of our Burgundies designed to complement this course to perfection. Stéphane took to the stage delivering a wonderful speech and setting everyone up to enjoy the next round. The first wine enjoyed was the robust and sweet Remoissenet Vosne-Romanée. Beautiful.

    "If I was Duke of Burgundy, I would make it illegal to sell Burgundy in supermarkets!" - Bernard Repolt

    As would we Bernard.

    Dessert followed with a rich amaranth mousse with hazelnut crumbs, honey jelly and wild raspberry. It was absolutely divine, and paired with a choice of another round of five of our Burgundies, it was a treat for the taste buds. Sipping on a glass of Collection Bellenum Chambolle-Musigny, we worked our way through the dessert, listened to more fascinating tales from our winemakers and enjoyed conversation about "Oddbins quirky early years", from the legendary Stephen Spurrier. We finished the night tasting the wines we couldn't quite fit into dinner and mingling as the sun went down on the impressive ICA balconies.

    All in all, it was a night spent celebrating our amazing range of new Burgundy wines and sharing our love with everyone in the room for three things. The wonderful evening, the wine and Oddbins.

    "Oddbins is on a roll and I think the Bourgogne roll is the best roll to be on." - Stephen Spurrier

    Pop onto our Facebook page to have a peek at the rest of the photos from the night.

    The Burgundy Winemakers Dinner - Complete Wine List

    Starter Wines

    Marchand-Tawse Côte de Nuits Villages 2013 - £26.00

    Roche de Bellene Bourgogne Pint Noir V.V. 2014 - £16.00

    Remoissenet Puligny Montrachet 2014 - £45.00

    Remoissenet Chablis 'Amiral Vernon' 2014 - 19.00

    Potel-Aviron Bourgogne Aligoté V.V. 2015 - £11.00

    Main Wines

    Remoissenet Vosne-Romanée 2014 - £50.00

    Remoissenet Rully Blanc - £20.00

    Marchand-Tawse Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Perrières 2012 - £55.00

    Justin Girardin Pommard 2014 - £32.00

    Roche de Bellene Chassagne-Montrachet 2014 - £40.00

    Roche de Bellene Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru 2012 - £60.00

    Dessert Wines

    Potel-Aviron Macon-Villages V.V. 2015 - £12.50

    Remoissenet Vosne-Romanée 2014 - £50.00

    Roche de Bellene Meursault - £38.00

    Collection Bellenum Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru 2001 - £50.00

    Justin Girardin Bourgogne Blanc 2014 - £15.00

  • A FOX IS FOR LIFE

    They say you’re either a dog person or a cat person. When you get home you are either endeared by the sight of a wagging tail, eyes bright with the expectation of cuddles, dinner and W-A-L-K-I-E-S, or you prefer to be greeted by a pet that doesn’t give a flying fox. However, there is a third way: the fox way. Foxes combine the best of both worlds – they have the cool nonchalance of cats, combined with the exuberance of dogs, and we reckon they make the ideal companion.

    Jim Morrison

    Now, we are not suggesting that you befriend the fox that eyes you warily from behind the privet hedge at No 7 – that probably wouldn’t go down very well. We are suggesting that you befriend one of the foxes in our windows! These aren’t just any foxes – they are three-foot, bespoke, hand-knitted, Oddbins foxes and they happen to be for sale at this month’s Silent Fox Auction. So, if you think that you, or a small person known to you, might rather like to be greeted by a dapper fox after a long day, all you have to do is hotfoot it to your local Oddbins, scribble the amount you’re happy to pay, pop your bid in the box and cross your fingers.

    Lady Gaga

    The foxes have been extremely popular at Oddbins but with none more so than our Buyer Ana, who it seems will do anything to be accepted by them. Ana knows the foxes love a bargain so, in a move completely out of character, she decided to slash the price of dozens of our wines. However, she wasn’t thinking straight at the time, so she slashed them by up to 32.7% and reduced Fine Wines such as Sarget de Gruaud Larose 1999 from £39 to £27.30. Château Grand Pontet Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé 2007, the ‘first wine’ from a renowned château on Bordeaux’s Right Bank? Slashed, from £28 to £22.40. What. The. Actual. Fox.

    Liam Gallagher

    While they have the cunning of cats, foxes definitely have the easy-going temperament of dogs – you wouldn’t catch a cat letting you dress it up like Liam Gallagher for love nor money. But the foxes are bang up for it (particularly if it's a well-tailored waistcoat and top hat). It is no surprise, then, that their 2015 Wine of the Year comes from one of the most whacked-out, laid-back Californians we know of… a certain Randall Grahm, who makes the totally stunning Le Cigare Volant Blanc, down from £30 to £15. WTF? Made according to the lunar calendar, using white grapes normally found in the Rhône Valley and a hands-off approach to production, it is an incredibly sexy, finessed, lavender and quince-driven beauty. You might even say it’s foxy. Good choice, fellas.

  • PROVOCATION, MOTORHEAD & AMP; FREEBIES FOR DADDY

     6 June, 2014

    The Oddbins Marketing Department is always trying to get our Buyer Ana to say provocative things. The most recent conversation, over a nice cup of Lady Grey, went something like this: “So, Ana – with two female finalists in The Palate* (our hunt to find the UK’s finest amateur wine taster) – and our two Listings (wines discovered on holiday and recommended to us by the public) sniffed out by women, would you say that women are better wine tasters than men?” To which Ana, thoughtful and unwilling to be drawn on such assertions, replies “no, I don’t think you can say that. What I would say is women are at least as good as men, but none is better than the other.” At which we nod sagely. But why don’t we test this out for ourselves, dear reader? This Father’s Day (Sunday June 15, lest we forget…), why not get the old man one of the tasty morsels below and get him to send us a tasting note to daddystastingnote@oddbins.com. If we agree with what he says, we’ll send him a £30 online gift voucher.

    Peat Monster

    So, first up is Daddy’s favourite, Scotch whisky. The Peat Monster, from the Compass Box Whisky Company, is a blissful blend of peated Highland whiskies. Adorned with a beautiful yet bonkers label featuring some kind of gremlin, it looks great, but just wait ‘til he rips the top off. With deeply satisfying bonfire aromas and heady spicy notes, it’ll give him lots to chew on as he’s writing his tasting note. But we insist you do a Scout’s Honour right now and promise not to give him our tasting note….

    *Pauses whilst you solemnly salute the screen*

    … Right, moving on.

    Local Beer

    Maybe your Dad isn’t like other Dads. If he’s like some Dads, he’s more into curious beers, Motörhead and doing up the motorbike (still), and would be happy as a sandboy with a case of local beer. In that case, we’d wag our finger towards our Local Beer – London Mixed Case of 12. Featuring beers from trailblazing brewers, including Stu and Claire at the East London Brewery, and Gary Ward at Bethnal Green’s Redchurch Brewery, it contains some of the best brews from the capital. Redchurch’s Pale Ale, for example, is a bold, fresh ale and – for the geeks out there – is made with high quality Maris Otter pale malt, with a blend of American and New Zealand-sourced hops. If your Dad’s a real BeerHëad, he’ll probably write a thesis on the history and merits of these respective hops, and we can only encourage this.

    Bourgogne Sous La Velle

    And finally. For the more dapper, linen-suited, jazz-hands Dads out there, we’ve a little secret from Burgundy that you really ought to know about… Its name is Bourgogne Blanc Sous la Velle Christian Bellang 2012, but the title belies the fact that half of this wine is made with Chardonnay grapes from Meursault. Because their appellation (certified wine region) doesn’t allow Meursault on the label, they declassified it and called it ‘Bourgogne’. Basically that’s the equivalent of putting the Brazilian football team in the Mexico team kit...  It’s a bargain.

    ‘Til next time.

    *Last chance to enter Round One of The Palate is this weekend (June 7/8) – get down to your local shop to take part, absolutely free. Alternatively, you can take part at Stockbridge Farmers’ Market, Edinburgh, on 8 June and at The Oddbins Wine Fair at The Church on the Hill, Glasgow – get your tickets from any Glasgow Oddbins (map here: http://www.oddbins.com/ourstores).

  • HOBBITS, ANCHORMAN AND DAVID ATTENBOROUGH

    For this edition of Oddnews we’ve taken inspiration from the upcoming Christmas cinema and TV viewing…Tonight on Channel 4, everyone’s favourite mentalist, Derren Brown, is going to teach grannies to steal pieces of art. This novel approach to combating the impact of rising fuel prices on pensioners landed the illusionist in hot water when two Damien Hirst artworks, which looked very much to us like a join-the-dots London Underground maps, were stolen. But we want to assure you that not all magic will result in a visit from the po-po. To prove it, our final magic video teaches you a trick that you can use to astound your friends over the festive period. Alakazam.

    We are proud to announce that in preparation for Christmas 2015, Peter Jackson has just started filming his third Hobbit-based film series, the lesser known J.R.R Tolkien work: Hobbits Open a Wine Shop. The basic premise, if you haven’t read the book, is that under the watchful eye of Bilbo, Frodo sets up a wine merchant called Oddbaggins and goes on multiple wine tasting adventures to find the perfect Christmas wine, all the time hounded by his evil competitor Gollum. We’ve got the inside scoop on a couple of the preciousss beverages featured… Kuru Kuru Pinot Noir (you know hobbits love New Zealand) and the great value Burgundy-a-like Viña Leyda Falaris Chardonnay from Chile are Frodo’s top matches for Christmas dinner. And we heartily second that motion, because they were our pick of the bunch too. But for those who prefer beer to wine, we’d recommend our first ever collaboration beer ELB Oddbins Nº1, a limited edition amber winter ale brewed with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, orange peel, nutmeg and vanilla. Available by the case online or in selected Oddbins shops, while stocks last. It also makes an incredible chocolate mousse, click here for the recipe.

    Mother Christmas, who continues to give away Champagne on our Twitter page, has advised that she will not be going to see The Hobbit, siting elf flashbacks and her annoyance at the lack of strong female characters. She will instead be going to see Anchorman 2…

    Jumpers, socks and scented candles are terrible gifts. Sorry if this offends anyone, but we are campaigning for the rights of bad gift receivers across the country. Scotch is a great gift. If you get snowed in, you don’t want a scented candle, you want the creamy, warming peatiness of Ardmore. When the in-laws descend, you don’t want to lock yourself in the kitchen with a pair of socks, you want the reassuring smoothness of Tamdhu. Ugly Christmas jumpers simply do not taste as festive as Balvenie DoubleWood. And that is a scientific fact. 60% of the time, it works every time.

    Alternatively, you can’t go wrong with our handpicked, ready wrapped, free delivery Christmas Gifts or a nice bottle of (Ron) Burgundy. Just remember our Christmas delivery cut off is midday on Friday 20th December.

    Did you see Kate Middleton at the premier of Natural History Museum Alive? She was wearing those 3D spectacles, just like a normal person might, only she is far more beautiful and regal. Sorry we sarcastically digress…David Attenborough is quite right. Tonight is no ordinary night. It is Friday 13th people. On such a night, our advice is to stay home. Don’t be tempted to go out, something terrible might happen. Stay at home with a bottle of Champagne and celebrate surviving another Friday 13th. To be honest we’ll celebrate anything if it means we’re allowed Champagne. The outstanding Pol Roger Brut Réserve is a great place to start. Packed with gently spiced baked apple and croissant flavours, this has long been an Oddbins favourite. But if you’ve been very good, upgrade yourself to the peachy and toasty Pol Roger 2002 Vintage, currently with £8 off. Described by the Wine Gang as “exceptional”. Unfortunately we can’t tell you how we described it because it was so good that on tasting it we inadvertently swore a little, and that won’t get through your spam filter.

    That’s all from us, not many sleeps until Christmas…

  • EXPLORING SPACE AND WINE

    Inspired by the news this week of Britain’s first official astronaut (although we're not sure what Helen Sharman thinks about this title), for this edition of Oddnews we’ve recruited some spacemen and spacewomen to aid our continuing exploration…

    Major Tim Peake filled in an online application form and soon he’ll be jetting off into space. Well, we have a story almost as crazy…

    Come and take part in a free wine tasting at Oddbins and you could end up jetting off for a 10 day luxury wine holiday for two to Australia and New Zealand, winning wine, attending a wine tasting boot camp and even choosing your own wine for Oddbins' shelves. It can only mean one thing… The Palate 2013, Oddbins’ search for the finest amateur wine taster, is back. To find out more watch our new video here. The first round will take place in all our shops on the weekends of 1-2 and 8-9 June. Wine tasting is fun, easy and anyone can do it. The Palate 2013 could be yours, all you have to do is reach for it.

    We’re pretty jealous of astronauts. How cool would it be to control the robotic arm of a spaceship? Another person that we’re pretty jealous of is Robert Oatley. He pioneered Australian wines around the world turning Rosemount Estate into one of Australia’s most famous wineries, he’s won countless yacht races and been honoured by the Queen for his contribution to the British Empire. He also owns the paradise of Hamilton Island, which the winner of The Palate 2013 will be lucky enough to visit. Just look at the pictures and you’ll want to enter the competition immediately. And as if that wasn’t enough Bob also makes an incredible range of wines. Plucking the best grapes from his vineyards dotted around Australia to make a stunning Shiraz from southern McLaren Vale, a perfect Pinot Noir from Mornington Peninsula and a charming Chardonnay from Margaret River. These bold, balanced and beautiful wines embody everything we love about Australian winemaking. When Oddbins eventually gets its own spaceship, we’re going to invite Robert Oatley to control the robotic arm and bring some wine for the journey.

    We would have thought that drinking before space travel would’ve been illegal, but who are we to argue with NASA and Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman to venture into space. What do you think astronauts have for Dutch courage before blast off? If Major Tim needs a suggestion, we’d recommend a classic Campbeltown single malt. With Springbank’s signature complexity, you could spend five months in space with just one bottle and never get bored of it. So many aromas and flavours, each dram is an adventure. For those not familiar with our website, each of our spirits has an alter ego. We currently have the Superman Springbank 10 year old, the Hugh Laurie Springbank 18 year old and the Bob Flowerdew Springbank 12 year old Calvados Wood. If you were looking for a companion to take into space, we imagine Superman would probably get a bit restless being stuck in a spaceship on a long journey, he’s been there and done that. There are no gardens in space and Bob Flowerdew’s ponytail would cause havoc in zero gravity. So taking into account Major Tim’s musical tendencies, we’d plump for the Hugh Laurie Springbank 18 year old. [Disclaimer: Oddbins does not condone drinking whisky before piloting a spacecraft]

    That’s all from us, until next time keep exploring, because as Frank Borman, the first man to fly around the moon, said…

    “Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.”

  • DIOGENES, LIZA MINNELLI AND ORSON WELLS

    This edition of Oddnews is quite the hedonistic concoction, we’ve got wine, food, philosophy, singing and dancing. Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and ritual madness, would be very proud of us…

     

    Free Greeks v Romans Wine Tasting

    With an attitude like that, the cynical Diogenes of Sinope probably wasn’t particularly popular around the tavernas of Athens. Normally, we wouldn’t put much stock in the musings of a man who slept in a terracotta pot, but this guy was on to something: there is something really satisfying about free wine. So if you like free wine as much as we do, head to any Oddbins shop after 5pm on Thursday 2 May for a clash of the titans tasting tussle: Greeks versus Romans. We will be throwing two of our barnstorming new Greek wines into the arena to battle it out with two classy Italians. Will 6,500 years of wine making experience give our Hellenic wines the edge or will they be crushed by an unstoppable vinous Roman phalanx [can two wines form a phalanx? – Ed]? Our money is on the underdog Greece. As well as giving us democracy, drama, discus, dolmades and Dionysus, we also have inside information that the six new Greek wines and two new Greek beers hitting our shelves shortly are awesome. But you never know, the Italian-inspired Heartland Dolcetto Lagrein scythed its way through the competition like an angry Russell Crowe, to become the victor of our last gladiatorial tasting event, so they are still in with a fighting chance. Pop your sandals on and come and explore an ancient world with us…

     

    Cabaret Rosé - £9

    The 1972 film version of Cabaret picked up eight Academy Awards, seven BAFTAs and a Golden Globe. Pretty impressive for a musical. But, when it comes to things that drive us wild with desire, it isn’t Liza Minnelli that gets our hearts racing, it is the return of our Cabaret Rosé from Provence. Seriously elegant and dangerously seductive, this rosé picks up IWC Medals for fun and is made by a Master of Wine with a winemaking lineage going back 700 years. Exquisitely delicate strawberry, pink grapefruit, passionfruit and cherry blossom all mingle in the mouth with this one, all we need now is the summer sun. So if you are having trouble finding the perfect rosé, to quote the film Cabaret one more time: “Where are your troubles now? Forgotten!”

    So what’s for lunch? And more importantly what wine are you going to match to it? If that second question leaves you floundering over what to pair with flounder, quailing at the sheer choice of matches for quail, or finding it hard to gauge the perfect partner for greengage, worry no more. Remove all the stress with our new and oh so easy Food and Wine Matcher, conveniently located here on our website.That’s all from us, other than to say that if you were so lost in a whirl of hedonism that you missed Malbec World Day on Wednesday, we have two brand new ones, so you can play catch up here.

  • SECRETS, LOVE AND BARDS

    Happy Burns Night one and all. In the words of Rabbie: “Go fetch to me a pint o wine, an fill it in a silver tassie.” or at least a bottle of malt whisky from Oddbins. But before you do, have a read of this…
    Well, that was well over 400 years ago. These days it’s unlikely that Golden Globe winning actor and redheaded heartthrob Damian Lewis is going to be burnt alive at the hands of a pitchfork-wielding, baying mob. However, reports earlier this month of a young gentleman who received a shattered jaw for his birthday, courtesy of a thug in Birmingham, simply due to his hair colour, are proof that redheads still sometimes get unfairly picked on. Here at Oddbins, we love red hair and we would like to celebrate it. So if you have two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 16, which have caused a mutation in the MC1R protein, resulting in a reddish hue to your hair, head down to an Oddbins from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 January and receive some love from us. As Frank Sinatra said “orange is the happiest colour.” Let's keep it that way. To find out more have a gander at our blog: Blogbins.

    Donna Tartt’s book The Secret History is a macabre tale of what happens when clandestine Bacchanalian festivities go bad. It’s a good read, but dark. Although we love a little secretive revelry, we prefer ours on the lighter side. At £11 a pop the Secret de Viu Manent wines are a better reflection of how we roll. These are three wines, one made from Carménère, one from Malbec and one from Viognier. The twist is that each one contains a proportion of mystery. Now don’t be scared, it isn’t horsemeat. We wouldn’t do that to you. 15% of each wine is made from an undisclosed blend. Now we love a secret, so our lips are firmly locked on what those blends are. But do your Columbo-like taste buds have the skills to unravel the enigma and identify the puzzling grape mixes? You'll just have to pick up a delicious bottle at one of our shops to find out...

    Over the last three months we’ve been exploring the theme of love. But unfortunately our love is dwindling. It’s not you, it’s us, we’ve changed and we’ve got to move on. We’re joking of course, we’ll never stop loving you, we just have a new theme starting in February. But what this means is that our “Love Now On!” January special offers on Fine Wines will be coming to an end on 31 January, so make sure you get yourself to an Oddbins shop before then. Who knows you might find the perfect Valentine’s Day present well ahead of time. For example, we have money off one of South Africa’s finest Pinot Noirs, the great value second wine of the illustrious Château Pichon-LonguevilleBillecart-Salmon’s Champagne made in oak and many more in our shops. And if you are wondering what our next theme will be, well you’ll just have to trust us…

    That’s all from us, go forth and do wrong to none.

  • ALICE COOPER, DEBBIE HARRY, JANUARY JONES AND A PENGUIN

    Christmas is almost upon us. We hope you are all stocked up. If not, don’t panic, there is still time. However, don’t leave it too late; we’d hate for you to miss out. Please allow Alice Cooper, Debbie Harry, January Jones and a very important penguin to lovingly take you by the hand and guide you through the next few weeks. Just be warned they each have some unusual dining habits…
    …any guesses what Alice Cooper’s second most joyous time of the year is? Answers on a postcard. To be honest, we wouldn’t have pegged the original golfing shock rocker as the festive type. Not least because everybody knows he prefers raw chicken heads over roast turkey breast. The fact that the whole domesticated foul nibbling incident was just an unappetising urban myth is irrelevant, as it brings us neatly round to the issue of “the bird”. What delights are you planning for the Christmas menu, and have you sorted your wine matches yet? We’re going for the Breakfast of Champions: scrambled egg-topped muffins (feel free to add smoked salmon or gruyere and chives as you please) accompanied by the stylish Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines Brut Champagne. We are planning on going off-piste with the roast by serving the elegant South African Lothian Pinot Noir and La Closerie des Lys Chardonnay, the latter being the wine selected for our range by Fran Evans, winner of The Palate 2012 (have you read the blog and seen the video?). Our Christmas pudding will be complemented by the rich Château Pajzos Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos, the cheeseboard will be introduced to the smoothest Port on the market: Sandeman LBV 2007, and if we’re lucky enough that Santa has furnished us with a bottle, we’ll loosen our belts a notch and wash down a mince pie with a wee dram of Glengoyne 21 Year Old. If you'd like to share your own menus with us, we’d love to hear from you; let us know on Facebook or Twitter. However, if you need any more advice, get yourself down to one of our shops pronto, there aren’t many unopened doors on that advent calendar. If you go dressed as Alice Cooper we promise that, after the initial shock, our staff will offer a level of service beyond even their usual excellence.
    We wish we were a little more punk. Wouldn’t it be cool to be Debbie Harry? Now we don’t want to come across all “humbuggish”, but we bet that Blondie’s front lady hasn’t spent many New Year’s Eves freezing her extremities off in Baltic conditions, queuing six deep at overpriced bars, stuck on adverse-weather-conditions-public transport or standing in line for the toilets when the countdown commences, as we have. We love New Year’s Eve, but find that the reality rarely lives up to the hype. So for the 2012/2013 transition, instead of going out for New Year’s Eve, we’re going to be celebrating New Year’s In. Maybe we are getting old. Imagine all the comfort and warmth of home, invite friends round and open something nice. If you’re hosting quite a few people, we challenge you to find a bubbly with a higher quality to price ratio than the Torre Oria Cava Reserva. Or why not finish off the year with something legendary like the Château Gloria Saint-Julien? £38 might seem like a lot, but remember it doesn’t cost £30 for a ticket to get into your house and it will taste much better than a warm pint of Carling in a plastic cup. So what is Debbie’s weird eating habit we hear you ask? Well she likes to eat to the beat obviously, which must mean that jazz makes for quite an uncomfortable dining experience Chez Harry.
    January is coming people. And we’re not talking about actress January Jones, with her car crashing antics and her unusual après-birth diet (the latter we will leave to your own imagination, all we’ll say is that her argument that “we’re the only mammals that don’t do it”, simply doesn’t cut the mustard with us). Oh no, we’re talking about the twice as icy month of January. Before you use your New Year’s resolution to cast wine aside with the cold heartedness of Betty from Mad Men, you might want to wait and see what we have planned for next year. Our “love” theme is going to take an unexpected twist and we are definitely going to be showing off. We wouldn’t want you to miss out, so keep a loving eye on us.

    That’s all from us, but before we go, have you met Pepita the Penguin yet? She loves a krill burrito…

  • THE ART OF CHRISTMAS SHOPPING

    We’ve held off just about as long as we could, but the number of sleeps ‘til Christmas is ticking away rapidly and we want to shout about our festive joy. As is traditional in these situations, we are going to call on the whole Hungarian nation, the father of modern astronomy and an ancient Chinese philosopher to help us…

     

    CHRISTMAS GIFTS

    Sun Tzu was misunderstood; he was a lover, not a fighter. His first work, The Art of Christmas Shopping, was vastly overshadowed by the popularity of his later treatise; the Art of War. What many don’t realise is that the former was the inspiration for the latter. In The Art of War he said “The way of war is a way of deception. When deploying troops, appear not to be.” However, the original wording stemmed from his love of covert gift buying, as described in his first publication: “The way of Christmas Shopping is a way of deception. When shopping, do so online so as to appear not to be.” Both pieces of writing state that “Excessive rewards are a sign of desperation”, i.e. you must be cunning with your shopping, spend wisely. We’re pretty sure that, if we hadn’t made all this up, Sun Tzu would have loved shopping at Oddbins. We have followed his teaching and carefully planned our strategy: loads of giftslittle gifts, big gifts, all kinds of gift packaging, corporate gifts that can be sent to lots of different destinations, personal gift messages and a simply fantastic range of wines, spirits and fizz. As Sun Tzu famously never said: “know when to shop and when not to shop”, now is the time to shop friends.

     

    ARDBEG

    Not sure we’ve accredited that quote correctly, but we’ve already tried to claim that a Chinese military general who lived around 500 BC liked Christmas shopping, so in for a penny, in for a pound. What do you get if you fill an Oddbins warehouse with a deep, dark loch, a tumultuous whirlpool, a ferocious reptile, a dead Italian physicist and a whole load of really potent ten year olds? A health and safety nightmare? Sordid tabloid allegations? The gentle knock of a Police battering ram? Well, the answer would probably be “all of the above”, if we weren’t talking specifically about Ardbeg whiskies. We love the Uigeadail (that’s the mysterious loch), Corryvreckan (that’s the whirlpool) and classic Ardbeg 10 Year Old (that’s the… oh you get it) so much, we’ve added two newbies to the range: the Alligator and the Galileo. These are extremely limited releases, most retailers sold out long ago, but we’ve managed to secure a few just for you. If you want to find out more about our new reptilian and astronomical friends, or just crack on and buy one of these Islay delights before they all gone, just follow the links to our website or browse all our whiskies here.

     

    TOKAJI

    That’s “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” in Hungarian. To be honest, there are so many accents and unusual vowel/consonant combos; it looks like the sentence above has tumbled into the one you are endeavouring to read. If you fancy a real challenge, try saying it, you have less than a month to nail it. If you fancy something Hungarian that’s a little easier on the tongue, try some glorious sweet Tokaji. There are few wines made with so much love. It’s so good a member of the French royalty described it as “the king of wines and the wine of kings”, it was the first wine to be protected by law, it features in the Hungarian national anthem (please note: God Save the Queen does not bestow the virtues of Carling) and the Hungarians drink it at celebrations instead of Champagne. The Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos from Château Pajzos (pronounced “pie-zosh”) tastes like the festive period should: gloriously rich and syrupy with raisins, dried apricots, toffee, spices, marmalade and honey flavours. It’s the perfect partner to your Christmas pudding, mince pies or cheeseboard, or go crazy and drink it in celebration like the mighty Magyar: “Egészségedre!” (that’s "cheers" BTW).

    That’s all from us, but before we go, just remember that we love you (and we mean it properly, not in the gyrating-hips "Prince" kind of way).

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