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    A Portuguese Natter Stop looking at the Portuguese Nata and read the Portuguese Natter

    In Portugal the backlash against austerity measures has kicked off and the country is bobbing in choppy waters.  If it were a sailor, like Vasco da Gama, it would have scurried up the gangplank of the nearest tea clipper and cast out into the fearful Atlantic waters to explore new lands and trade in new markets.  But what would Portugal take to trade on this expedition?  Well, wine of course, we’re Oddbins; did you think we were going to carry on this nautical talk for long?

    Well we might, because it’s fun.  Although the Portuguese economy appears to have hit the doldrums, its wine industry is heading on a steady course.  In fact exports to the USA, a major market for Portuguese wine, are expected to double by 2014.  Here in Blighty, the strength of currencies in the southern hemisphere and increasing shipping costs have put European wines back in the game.  Therefore, here in the Oddbins crow’s nest we have turned our telescopes towards the Iberian Peninsula.

    It’s time to get acquainted, or reacquainted, with this small and, as Dubya would probably have described it, misunderestimated nation.  Let’s play a game of “Did You Know?”  Did you know that the Portuguese Empire was both the first global empire in history and the longest-lived of the European colonial empires, spanning almost six centuries?  Did you know that the Anglo-Portuguese alliance is the oldest military alliance in history, having been ratified in 1386, some 626 years ago?  Did you know that the Portuguese tried to introduce Catholicism to Japan?  Though they may not have completely succeeded with this, they did convert their hosts to the joys of tempura.  Did you know that the Cutty Sark was once Portuguese property, and its crew called it “Pequena Camisola”, meaning “little shirt”, a direct translation of the Scots “cutty sark”?  Did you know that Portugal was the first colonial power to realise that slavery wasn’t very nice?  Did you know that Portugal has the longest bridge in Europe?  And did you know that Canadian-Portuguese singer Nelly Furtado has written songs that weren’t about her avian tendencies and some of them weren’t even that annoying?  If you are on our mailing list you may have known some of these facts already, if you aren’t, well tsk, shame on you, straight to Davy Jones’ Locker without any tea.  But you’ll be forgiven if you sign up here.

    Sorry, we got carried away there.  Hot-footing it back to the heart of the matter, instead of meandering around Portuguese history in a manner that would embarrass those brave people who tried to teach us history so many moon ago, we want to talk about the beauty of Portuguese wine.  Portugal has steadfastly declined to go down the route of the classic “international grape varieties”, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, which are grown almost everywhere.  Instead it has stayed anchored to its largely unpronounceable indigenous grape varieties, like Alfrocheiro, Castelão, Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira.  This is because the country is very comfortable in its own skin and proud of its traditions, and although these grape varieties may sound confusing, it’s worth bearing in mind that a lot them feature in Port, a drink that we British all know and love.  The Portuguese have a proverb that “all wine would be Port if it could”, we think that this usage of this adage will fade in the face of the belting wines that are being produced.

    Take Quinta de Bons Ventos (£6.50) for example.  This has reached legendary status in our stores, and customers have started abbreviating the name of this trusty wine to “QBV” and even simply “BV”. In fact it has proved so popular that we’ve just had magnums of this elixir made, which have started to arrive into our stores this week.  The mix of 50% Castelão, 20% Camarate, 15% Tinta Miuda and 15% Touriga Nacional, produces a wine that is complex and weighty with juicy fruits and liquorice notes that belie its meagre price.  BV represents a serious bang to buck ratio.

    Hats: all the rage at Quinta dos RoquesOr, take Quinta dos Roques (£12), a chunky monkey from the historic region of Dão that uses some of those amazingly named local grape varieties.  The 2009 vintage has heady violet and pine needle notes running through its rich fruit, making it an ideal partner for Portuguese fare like Cozido, a rich stew of different meats and vegetables.  If you fancy getting cosy with some Cozido, check out this recipe.  Apologies to any veggies reading, we realise that this is a bit meat heavy and promise to include something more vegetable-based next time.  According to Quinta dos Roques, they’ve enjoyed favourable weather conditions so far this year, and the producers “have strong hopes for a very good harvest” , which is great news because if they’d had our weather they’d have been scuppered.

    Some ripe Bastardo at ConceitoYou may have seen in our stores one of our small parcels, the Conceito Contraste wines.  Produced by a very talented lady, who also makes wine in South Africa and New Zealand, as well as some daringly labelled Ports, the white in particular is an unusual wine.  Here in the UK when we think of most Portuguese whites we think of crisp and spritzy Vinho Verde, but the Conceito Contraste Branco is an oaky white that really packs a punch.  Their red wine bottles inspired Drew from our Liverpool store to take the photo below, which made us think that he and Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth might have been separated at birth (Drew is the one on the right with the bottles, in case you were wondering).  These wines are limited parcels, so we’ll try and get them listed on the website soon, but at the rate they’re selling we’ll need to limit the number of bottles to one per customer.  Both wines are however available in the majority of our stores, so get yourself down to one soon.  Concurring with the guys at Quinta dos Roques, Conceito tell us that things are shaping up nicely this year and if you are as juvenile as we are, you might enjoy the turn-of-phrase in the last harvest report they sent us, in which they told us that: “Bastardo has just reached 13% alcohol.”  Although this may sound like the description of Premier League footballer during a night on the beers, they are in fact referring to another of Portugal’s wonderfully named grape varieties.

    Pale Man v Drew from Oddbins Allerton Road

    Hopefully your interest in Portugal is at least been partially piqued.  Our new wines have certainly grabbed the attention of the press.  If you don’t believe us check out this article written by one of our favourite bloggers Sarah Ahmed, aka The Wine Detective, giving our whole range what can only be described as a glowing review.  Alternatively you can go and listen to wine experts Neil Phillips, Tom Cannavan and Charles Metcalfe wax lyrical about them at free Portuguese wine tastings in collaboration with Vini Portugal at five of our stores:

    • Thursday 27 September, 2pm-5pm, at our London Bridge store in London, with blogger Neil Phillips aka The Wine Tipster.
    • Thursday 27 September, 6pm-8.30pm, at our Crouch End store in London, with Neil Phillips.
    • Friday 28 September,5pm-6pm, at our Mitchell Street store in Glasgow, with wine journalist Tom Cannavan famous of the Wine-Pages website.
    • Saturday 29 September, 3.30pm-4.30pm, at our Tunbridge Wells store, with Portuguese wine expert and writer Charles Metcalfe.
    • Saturday 6 October, 3.30pm-4.30pm, at our Queensferry Street store in Edinburgh, with Tom Cannavan.

    These tastings are completely free, but spaces are limited, so get in touch with the store to secure your spot.  Details of our stores can be found here.  If you can’t make it to one of these, why not grab our Portuguese Explorers Case online and begin your own voyage of discovery. (LT)Good Monkey

    This post was written while drinking: FP Branco by Filipa Pato.  This wine swept us away like a strong sea current, turning us from landlubbers to salty seadogs.  To be honest with you, we’d happily have drowned in it.  The Wine Gang also seemed to be swept overboard by it, as they gave it 92 points in their September 2012 Newsletter, an almost unheard of score for a wine so far below the £20 mark.  Unfortunately, the monkey opposite doesn’t care too much for it because he prefers red wines, see how he eyes the magnificent glass of our chunky Cortes de Cima, while leaving the Champagne and bananas untouched.  Good monkey.


    In a week where Nick Clegg found out that one word poorly chosen can backfire on you in spectacular fashion, we’re going to choose our words very carefully. So what could go wrong if we kick off with a quote from the UK’s most popular singer/songwriter/vineyard owner/calendar model/Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire?

    For Portugal’s sake we hope that Sir Cliff only goes there for a summer holiday, and for our sake we hope the other place is much deeper, further away and soundproof. The artist formerly known as Harry Webb is not our only link to Portugal, the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance was ratified in 1386 and is thought to be the oldest alliance in the world to still be in force. What, you hadn’t heard of it? No neither had we, but when we did we were so excited we decided to celebrate the important milestone of its 626th anniversary by getting in loads of Portuguese wines for you. And they are going down really well. Blogger Sarah Ahmed, aka The Wine Detective, gave us a glowing review here. The Wine Gang awarded our £11.50 FP Branco by Filipa Pato 92 points in their September 2012 Newsletter, an almost unheard of score for a wine of this price. We reckon this fresh white would go beautifully with some tempura, which the Portuguese introduced to Japan in the mid-sixteenth century. We’re interesting fact central right here today. If you fancy celebrating the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, you can by heading on over to one of our shops or by grabbing our Portuguese Explorers Case online. Right, who’s up next? Let’s hope this one really is from a legend of the wine industry…
    The Americans called the hero wine merchant Harry Waugh “the man with the millon-dollar palate.” So when it comes to his criteria, one out of two ain’t bad. Was that what Meatloaf said? Where are all these ageing rockers coming from? Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, Burgundy, despite Harry’s benchmarks it doesn’t have to be red to be outstanding. The white wines from the négociant Verget are incredible and we have six of the best for you. The man behind these wines, Jean-Marie Guffens, has been described as “the world’s greatest Chardonnay winemaker”, we implore you to find out why by diving into this selection of his finest. Our following quotee would probably agree…
    We’re not sure that Fiona was specifically talking about Blogbins when she wrote this in the Guardian at the weekend, but she gave bloggers and our Wine Bloggers’ Case her seal of approval. In celebration of the blogosphere, we popped open a bottle of England’s classiest fizz, Gusbourne’s Sparkling Rosé, and wrote a new post on Blogbins called “May we have a word?” If you have a moment, please have a read.That’s all from us, your challenge for the week, should you choose to accept, is to tell us your favourite wine quotes in the comments section of our blog. Until then we’ll leave you one to ponder over with your Weetabix tomorrow morning…

    “Good sound Claret… an agreeable substitute for tea or coffee at breakfast during warm weather…”
    Charles Tovey


    Hannibal LecterLadies and gentlemen, we are proud to introduce our new posters...

    If you’ve strolled past one of our shops in recent days, you may have noticed that we have some colourful and rather natty posters swinging merrily in our windows, emblazoned with unusual quotes. You may have asked yourself “What the blazes are Oddbins going on about now?” And to be honest that would probably be fair. So bear with us and we’ll try to explain…

    We’ve hung the year up, drawn some lines on it and roughly quartered it (yes, we literally went medieval on 2012). We then designated each portion a theme. We started the year with “taste”. Rather than going down the obvious route of telling you that Sauvignon Blanc tastes like gooseberries and Gewürztraminer has hints of Turkish delight, we asked whether it matters what the flavours are as long as you like it and it perfectly complements your dinner. We concluded that maybe there’s room for both.

    Then things got noisy when we moved on to “sound”. Here we explored what music goes best with our wines. We also carried out what we think was the world’s first synchronised music and wine matching tasting and discovered that “Alive and Kicking” by Simple Minds prefers Burgundy. Who knew?

    Jean-Antheleme Brillat-SavarinPortuguese Proverb

    Then we hit the third quarter and the theme of “words”, which coincided with it coming to our attention that the world had gone “loco” and that asinine restrictions were being placed on our freedom to use the English language. As you can imagine, this made us pretty angry, so we tooled up and fired off a few rounds of devastating words. After a bit of a Mexican standoff, we emerged from the written shootout victorious. We’re not really allowed to talk or write about it so we’ve holstered our weapons. But we’d have no problem drawing them again if another fight comes our way.

    For now though we are just peacefully getting back on track with our “words” theme. If you would like to understand the reasons that lead us to choose this preposterous subject, please have a read of “A Brief Word…”. But be warned, the title is ironic. We’ve ignored Thomas Jefferson’s adage that;

    “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

    Instead we’ve proceeded to write about seven times more than was completely necessary (kind of like JK Rowling did with the Harry Potter books), but hopefully you’ll find it entertaining.

    Ana Sapungiu

    Homer Simpson










    Where were we? Words? Thomas Jefferson? Oh yes, quotes. For this quarter we’ve chosen six quotes roughly on the topic of drinks and drinking, and put them pride of place on our beautiful posters. But there were some classics that didn’t quite make the cut, including the following…

    “There’s a beverage here.”

    The Dude

    "Drink a glass of wine after your soup, and you steal a ruble from the doctor."

    Russian Proverb

    “Wine… is a food.”

    Oliver Wendell Holmes

    “If wine disappeared from human production, I believe there would be, in the health and intellect of the planet, a void, a deficiency far more terrible than all the excesses and deviations for which wine is made responsible.  Is it not reasonable to suggest that people who never drink wine, whether naïve or doctrinaire, are fools or hypocrites…? A man who drinks only water has a secret to hide from his fellow-men."


    “We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now.”


    Emma Nichols

    If only we could’ve had more posters. Anyway, our questions to you are these… Which did we miss? What are your favourite wine, Champagne, beer or whisky quotes? No need to put your answers on a postcard, this isn’t Blue Peter, just pop it delicately into our comments section down at the bottom there. Thanks for reading, but we’ll love you more if you comment too. (TO)

    This post was written while drinking: Gusbourne English Sparkling Rosé. However, even England’s sexiest fizz couldn’t stop us getting horrendously distracted by the genius of the Mo Farah Running Away From Things website. P.S. The introductory price on the Antoine Remy Champagne will only last until the end of October 2012.


    Breaking with convention, as you know we sometimes do, there are no wines featured in this email. “But, why?” we hear you demand. Well, today we are going to concentrate on the words and as Jean-Paul Sartre told us that “Words are loaded pistols”, we’ve decided to leave the wine to one side, because even if they are only metaphorical, firearms and wine don’t mix. So this edition of Oddnews will concentrate on cold hard facts, breaking news and the wonder of words…
    Do you remember when Gary Lineker mouthed these words to Bobby Robson just before Gazza lost it? Well don’t worry, we’re not about to lose it just yet, but we might be on our way. Those of you who have been following us closely this year may have noticed some of the themes we’ve been running. We started off the year with a theme that we were comfortable with, “taste”, matching food to wine. But that wasn’t tough enough for us, that is just what we do. So next we moved on to “sound” where we matched wine and music, backed up by science of course. But for our next theme we’re moving on to “words”. To read some words about why we are doing this and what you might expect over the next two months, simply click here.

    If you think that this is a bit odd, all we can say is wait and see what is in store for the end of the year. What will the theme be then? History? Space? Heraldry? Animals?

    Animals. That brings us on nicely on to our next topic. It is with great pride that we introduce the newest member of the Oddbins family. We’ve given birth to a kicking and screaming baby blog. And being cruel parents we’ve called it Blogbins. To read baby Blogbins’ first words click here. The first post is about animals in a round and about kind of way and the next instalment will follow soon.

    Talking of next instalments, sorry we’ve been a bit quiet recently about The Palate, our search for the nation’s finest taste buds. From the almost 5,000 of you that entered we’ve narrowed the field down to just our lucky 12 finalists. In October they will be coached by celebrity Masters of Wine and regulars on Saturday Kitchen; Susie Barrie and Peter Richards. They will then face their toughest challenge yet to see who will win the wine holiday of a lifetime and be crowned “The Palate 2012”. Thanks to everyone that has played along, we know you will all be wishing the finalist luck. To find out more simply click here. We’re taking along a video camera, so expect lots of emotional back stories and a long tense pause before the winner is announced. There probably won’t be any dry martinis though as the last thing we want to do is impair any palates.

    If all this words business has left you thirsty for some wine, feel free to browse our special offers by clicking here.

    That’s all from us. Until next time, remember that “grease” is not the word, “wine” is.


    This doesn’t look like a wine blog?

    Welcome to Blogbins, the brand new blog from Oddbins and what we hope will be a whole different animal to what you may have read in the past…

    OddlephantThis is going to be “odd”, so let’s kick things off by talking about the wine press and elephants. We love them both and in many ways the two are quite similar; they are lumbering, grey, a bit wrinkly, increasingly endangered and although it’s lovely to look at their pictures, when you get really close you find they’re a little too heavy to digest, even over several sittings.

    Unfortunately much of the wine press assumes a knowledge, bank balance and threshold for seriousness that far exceeds what most of us have. As a result newspaper columns dedicated to the vinous delights seem to be shrivelling faster than British resolve at the penalty spot. Luckily there’s an alternative popping up all over the place like meerkats and proving just as popular; blogs.

    Actually blogs are more like regular cats than meerkats, although meerkats aren’t even cats, they’re mongooses or should that be mongeese. Sorry, we digress, blogs are cats, but not the pedigree kind that look down their nose at you (an all too common problem in the wine industry), but the moggy kind. Not always the most beautiful to look at, but they are small, quick to react, loveable, full of character and much easier to fit into our lives than an elephant.

    We like blogs because information comes in manageable chunks, they’re free to read, they aren’t afraid to be brutally honest and they’re usually written with enthusiasm, passion and wit by people we can relate to. On top of all this, they’re changing the world; The Huffington Post won a Pulitzer Prize, nine year old Martha Payne seems to have trumped the PR steamroller that is Jamie Oliver by exposing the number of hairs in her school dinners with NeverSeconds, Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr made himself a star as Perez Hilton and it’s impossible to ignore the impact of WikiLeaks.

    But before we open up that can of political worms (we have our own idea, but if you would like to send us a sketch of what you think a political worm would look like, please do), let’s get back to the wine. There are loads of wine blogs and new ones seem to appear every day. However, they have been around for a while and as with evolution, time has allowed the strong, skilled and adaptable to rise to the top. But if you need a little help picking them out, the Darwin of the wine blogosphere, Robert McIntosh (aka Thirst for Wine) has compiled a useful list of the highly developed blogs (those with opposable thumbs, if you will) here. There’s something for everyone from the serious to the comedic, whether you’re a Knackered Mother, a closet Pinotage lover or just want red and white grapes explained using celebrity analogies.

    Oddbins' Wine BloggersThe quality of these blogs and writers has inspired us. So not only have we started our own blog, but we’ve allowed six of our favourite bloggers, Big Pinots, Cambridge Wine Blogger, Wine Passionista, Sip Swoosh Spit, Spittoon and Miss Bouquet, free rein to run rampant around our shops and put together a case of the good stuff for you. Twelve great wines independently chosen by six of the UK’s most talented wine writers direct from our shelves, could there be a better endorsement than that? Check out our Bloggers’ Case here. Who knows, maybe we’ll be able to convince some of our other favourite bloggers like Old Parn, The Wine Detective, The Wine Sleuth and Matt Walls to do a guest blog for us?

    But before you go and check out all these other bloggers, let’s get back to this blog. What kind of creature will Blogbins become? Well in truth we doTokaji Oremus Mandolas Dry Furmintn’t know yet, it’s only just been conceived, it might grow into a star-nosed mole, a pink fairy armadillo, an axolotl or a northern white-faced owl (this last one doesn’t sound cool, but this video might change your mind). What we know for certain is that there will be more postings from us and we promise not to take things too seriously. Thanks for reading. (TO)

    This post was written while drinking: Our new Hungarian Tokaji Oremus Mandolás Dry Furmint. And if your day has been long and serious, lighten your mood by listening to the Hungarian translation of “cheese cheese cheese cheese trees trees” on Google Translate.


    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.


    In this issue of Oddnews we might come across like a right bunch of bankers. We’ll be investing in futures, looking at past trends and talking about exclusivity and a new collaboration. So with no further ado let’s shake the tree for low hanging fruit and get down to business…

    Investing in Futures
    Antoine Remy Champagnes from £27 a bottle

    Investing in the future currently involves scrimping, saving, nodding as the bank manager baffles you with jargon about tiny percentages, filling out tedious forms and very little by way of fun. And after all that there’s barely a modicum of return, let alone anything worth cracking open the fizz for. But we have an alternative way of investing in the future and this way is far more fun as it starts with the Champagne…

    Bernard Remy bought his first vineyard in 1968. Through hard graft he gradually increased it to about the size of ten football pitches, which is still pretty small, before passing it on to his son Rudy. Rudy now makes two boutique Champagnes under his two year old son’s name, because he sees these wines as their future and baby Antoine as the heir to the throne. The zippy, limey and floral Antoine Remy Brut (£27) and the raspberry sorbet, cherry blossom and fresh cream infused Antoine Remy Rosé (£30) are exclusive to Oddbins and presently only available through our website. These Champagnes are one in the eye for the big brands and with each wonderful sip you’ll be investing in little Antoine and Champagne’s future.

    Further Exclusivity
    Taittinger Vintage down to £39 a bottle

    Web exclusive Champagnes not enough for you? Oh, you want more do you? You’ll want the moon on a stick next. Well luckily we love you, so here have a web exclusive offer of Taittinger 2004 Vintage down to the price of Taittinger Non Vintage. Taittinger 2004 Vintage was £52, but now just for you it’s only £39 while stocks last. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Wait a minute you didn’t ask, man alive we’re good to you.

    A New Collaboration
    GQ Wine Club

    Oddbins have teamed up with our favourite mens’ magazine, the esteemed GQ, to launch a new GQ Wine Club. This month’s offering allows you to explore the joys of white Burgundy from the comfort of your own home and without having to learn that Frenchy lingo. The exclusive case features two bottles of Chablis (one Grand Cru), a Pouilly-Fuissé, a Corton-Charlemagne, a Puligny-Montrachet, a Saint-Véran and a saving of more than £25. Every bottle is produced by Dutchman Jean-Marie Guffens, who has made quite a name for himself with these Verget wines. They are not available to buy through our shops, so please click here to find out more. We expect these to be more popular than Bradley Wiggins on a tandem with the Queen, you've been warned.

    Learning from the Past
    Summer White Wines from £6.25

    We Brits love to resurrect the past. If you want proof you only have to look at the resurgence of offal on posh restaurant menus, the return of skinny jeans, high-tops and electro, how often Kate gets compared to Diana or the fact that we mercilessly roll out Paul McCartney to butcher Hey Jude at every national event going.

    Here at Oddbins we’ve decided to do the same with wine. That’s why all our top tips at the moment are trips down memory lane. This summer we recommend getting yourself a seriously grown up German Riesling or sampling the gloriously refreshing delights of some blasts from the past like Soave, Muscadet and Vinho Verde. Or finally why not wind the clock back on alcohol levels by trying our stupidly wonderful 10.5% Longview Red Bucket White. It comes from Macclesfield, honestly, and it tastes like pure bottled summer. Have you forgotten just how good the past tasted?

    That’s all from us, until we touch base again.


    Dr Oddbins would like to welcome you to the latest issue of Oddnews. This edition is somewhere between an anatomy lesson and a medical examination. We’re going to start off in your mouth, then check the arm and finally finish up by peering into your ears. But don’t worry it’s not as scary as it sounds; it’s just what the doctor ordered…

    The Palate

    Open wide; let’s have a look at those taste buds. Oddbins are launching a nationwide competition to find the UK’s best amateur wine taster; The Palate. The competition will take place over five rounds, including a tasting boot camp with a celebrity wine critic. Three lucky winners will receive holidays to some of the world’s most famous wine regions, influence the wine hitting our shelves and be crowned “The UK’s Finest Palate”. To find out more and watch our video, simply click here.

    To enter Round One, just pop in to any branch of Oddbins on either the weekend of 2-3 June or 9-10 June and you could find out what victory tastes like.

    6 x d’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz for £150

    OK, about that arm… There are two times in life when a "dead arm" is fun. The first is when you’re six years old punching your friends in the playground. The second is when you discover d'Arenberg’s iconic Dead Arm Shiraz. It’s this second experience that we want to talk to you about as it takes fun to a whole new, and far less painful, level. The wine gets its namefrom a fungal infection (yeah, who knew that could be fun?) that kills half the vine, concentrating all the goodness and flavour into the grapes in the remaining half. The result is an enormously rich Shiraz that’s spicier and more packed with revelations than an episode of the Jeremy Kyle Show and more voluptuous and indulgent than an evening in Nigella Lawson’s kitchen. The 2008 vintage was picked before the heat wave ensuring the wine maintains crisp rhubarb, dried herbs, gamey meat, chunky cherries, big plums (ahem!) and more spices than a Moroccan Souk. Although you’ll be rewarded highly if you open it immediately, we recommend holding your horses (easier said than done with a dead arm) as this will continue to improve over the next 15 years.

    If you want to try the d’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz, it’s available in our shops at £30 a bottle. But just for you we’re offering an amazing online only offer of six bottles for £150, including delivery. That’s a whole bottle free. Stocks are limited though, so order here soon. We’ll even deliver them, so there’s no risk of any damage to your arms carrying them home.

    London Wine Fair

    Many of our customers reported symptoms of music and the sounds of sipping and slurping resonating in their ears. We don’t need Dr Gregory House for this; we know it wasn’t Lupus…

    We’ve been waiting 64 years for the Olympic Games to return to the UK. It’s been 115 years since our last Diamond Jubilee party. But when it comes to epic returns and monumental parties, 2012 will be remembered as the year the Oddbins Wine Fair returned. Much love and respect to all those who joined us at the Oddbins Wine Fair in London at the weekend for some amazing wines, great music and a welcome cooling break from the sunshine. We had some excellent reviews from two of our favourite wine bloggers; BigPinots and Spittoon, GQ Magazine were “very impressed” (keep an eye out for a GQ and Oddbins collaboration coming soon here) and one of our attendees described it as “one of THE BEST wine fairs of the season...Oddbins is back!” If you missed out or want more of the same, the party continues in our shops, on our website and in every bottle we sell.

    That’s all from us, it wasn’t so bad was it? Until next time, Dr Oddbins prescribes more sunshine, more fun and nothing but the finest wines.


    Are you sitting comfortably?  Well then, welcome to the May issue of Oddnews.  We’re going to fill you in on all the mischief we’ve been up to and the much anticipated return of the Oddbins Wine Fair.  But before you venture a word further, if you haven't already, go and put some music on.  We don’t care what, we’re not judgemental, but we think that music is important.  Extreme-whiskered philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said that “without music life would be a mistake”, and this was echoed by the Barbadian musical conveyor belt, Rihanna, when she sang “please don’t stop the music”.  We’re proposing a wine and music adventure…Sound Wine Advice
    Oddbins has always been a noisy wine merchant, but we’re about to crank it up to 11.  We want to take you on a magical mystery tour that’s more punk rock than wine shop.  Like Vivaldi, we’ve elegantly divided the year into four seasons and assigned each an unusual theme.  For the next few months our theme will be “sound”, and we’ll be kicking off the season with “music”.  There’s more to wine and music than just UB40’s “Red Red Wine”, scientific studies have shown that music can affect the wine you buy and how it tastes.  To give you a snifter: playing accordion music in a wine shop makes customers more likely to select French wine and Cabernet Sauvignon tastes better while listening to dark angry music.  Crazy huh?  All this got us thinking, if certain songs make some wines taste better, then there must be a perfect music match for every wine.  So we’ve dug deep in the crates and come up with a recommended song match for each of our wines.  We’ve put them all slap bang on our website in our Music & Wine Matcher.  All you have to do is buy a bottle of our finest and go online to see what we recommend you listen to.  But this is an open debate, we want to hear from you, if you disagree or have a better idea let us know.  You can do this via our website, by filling in a form in one of our shops or on Twitter using the hashtag: #oddbinsmusic.  The best wine and music matches will win prizes of festival tickets, cases of wine or even an honorary place on the Oddbins Music and Wine Matching Panel.  To find out more just read our manifesto online or pop into one of our shops.

    Oddbins Wine Fair: The Return
    Wine and music madness not enough for you?  Well we have some news that will definitely be music to your ears…

    Boom!  The legendary Oddbins Wine Fair is officially back.  It will take place on 25-26 May 2012 at Victoria House Basement, Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1B 4DA.  Save the date, because we’re back with a bang.  There will be over 400 wines from more than 65 producers (wine, not record), masterclasses, loads of music, food, gifts and your chance to meet the winemakers.  More information will follow, so keep your eye on us.  If you would like to join in, either pop into your local branch to buy tickets, call us on 0800 328 2323 or visit our website.

    More Mischief
    The fun doesn’t stop there.  Fermented grape juice was never supposed to be stuffy and elitist.  Oddbins are eternal troublemakers and we say down with the wine bores and winosaurs, enough of the doom and gloom, let’s put the joy back…

    So as well as launching our wine and music matching competition, we’ve been dabbling in politics.  Last week we chose seven wines that sum up each of the candidates for the London Mayoral Election.  With people voting today there’s still everything to play for, our OddGov survey puts one of the candidates out in front by a few bottles.  However, we’re keen to avoid a political scandal, we’ll leave that to the politicians and Murdochs, and so we’re keeping the facts and figures close to our chest.  We might let you know our results after the election.

    If that wasn’t enough, we’re also remixing the tasting note.  So you can expect less “aromas of kumquats in a dirty plimsoll” and “meaty notes reminiscent of jerky on a thundery summer evening” on our website.  Instead you can expect giant wooden ducks, Chuck Norris, marauding vampires, Gil Scott-Heron, disappearing Iranian cities and a wine made by dogs.  If you don’t believe us, have a look at Canard-Duchêne, Gemtree Bloodstone Shiraz, Falanghina Biblos, Cigarra Shiraz Tinta Barroca, Berton Paddock Shiraz and Hunawihr Gewürztraminer.

    If you have any ideas for more mischievous wine-related tomfoolery, drop us an email or get yourself on to Twitter or Facebook.  OK, that’s all from us.  We hope to see you in one of our shops, at the Wine Fair or online.  Until next time, pump up the volume and watch this space for more Oddbins shenanigans…


    Dostoyevsky wasn’t known for his sunny disposition. But, being Russian, he would probably have dealt with our winter better than we do. On Sunday 27 October the clocks go back, heralding the end of the ironically named British Summer Time. From there on the nights will grow longer and darker. Our answer is to hunker down with something warm and equally dark, like Bowmore Darkest 15 Year Old malt whisky, which smoulders with the richness of dark chocolate, black treacle toffee, smoke and worn leather. Or why not take on a walk on the darker side with our craft beer case: London By Night, six pitch black ales that are certain to warm the cockles. The darker the night, the brighter these stars will shine.

    Remember, remember the 5th of November, fireworks, jacket potatoes and Champagne. Wait a minute, that isn’t how it goes, is it? Anyway, for us, the fireworks of Bonfire Night mark the real start of the party season. So how are we going to celebrate? We turned to our Wine Buyer Ana Sapungiu for advice, and she said “According to legend, on trying the first ever sparkling Champagne, the monk Dom Pérignon was reputed to have said ‘Come quickly, I am drinking the stars!’. Well stars are OK, but if it's cloudy you can't see them. I prefer the excitement of fireworks. Drappier is so bright and breathtaking, each sip is like drinking chilled fireworks.” Pop. Ooh. Aah. All we can add to that is that at just £26 a bottle, Drappier is one firework it is safe to return to.

    The red safelight in Hell’s darkroom must really set off Satan’s eyes. But why doesn’t he ditch the darkroom and go digital like the rest of us? Maybe modern technology can’t cope with all that damnation and brimstone. We’re much less afraid of Lucifer now that star of Point Break, Gary Busey, has informed us that he has a nice hobby. But talking of all things scary, 31 October is Hallowe’en, so you will be wanting a suitably ghoulish wine we imagine. But not one of those supermarket trick wines that Oz Clarke was talking about on Watchdog, you’ll be wanting one of those treat wines, like the ones that Oddbins sells. So why not try Longview’s dark and minty Devils Elbow Cabernet Sauvignon, missing the apostrophe because it takes its name from an Aussie road rather than Beelzebub’s olecranon (we think it's still grammatically dubious though). It’s devilishly good and develops in the glass, not a darkroom.

    That’s all from us, except to say that although this edition of Oddnews has had quite a dark and nocturnal feel, keep an eye out because we’re about to lighten things up with some fun…

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