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Tag Archives: France

  • Mission Chimpossible!

    A couple of leathery digits poke around in a box. They remove a corkscrew and deftly prepare it for its noble purpose. A few more leathery digits introduce a bottle of wine, and as the cork is removed, the customers in the Maida Vale branch of Oddbins heartily applaud Loveable the chimp. Loveable has just opened the day's tasting wine with nothing but his feet and a winning smile. It's clear that his boyish demeanor has charmed the socks off some of those present, who will happily take him home and mother him. Job done! Now he must go on a mission. He grabs a handful of shiny, colourful cards from the counter, hops on his bike and wobbles off to another Oddbins store, to meet his brother Crafty. Crafty is deep in conversation with a group of American tourists.


    "...and it turns out the blighter had made off with my bally wallet! Anyway, yes, that claret is a big favourite of mine, tell you what, buy two and I'll take one home with me and we can compare notes tomorrow. Oh I say, here's my young brother, adorable chap. Looks young but he's actually in his twenties...". He places another bottle on the counter, next to what is now two Bordeaux wines. " you won't come unstuck adding his favourite Chilean red to your basket. Quite the star in his youth, whole string of TV adverts, got me a part as a confidence trickster in Carry On Cajoling. Who'd have thought?". 

    Loveable pushes the shiny cards upon him, with an imploring look. "What's that, old fruit? Malaysia? Your shop in Maida Vale is offering a free trip to Malaysia? Oh no, I can't go back there, not after the hoo-hah with the bridesmaids, dreadful kerfuffle, heh, heh, heh...Oh, the customers? Free entry with every purchase? And all the shops are doing it are they, even this one? What-ho!"

    From the no-chimps-land beneath the counter he conjures open a bottle of Burgundy and a handful of wine glasses, and starts pouring. The Americans are looking nervous. "You heard that, gentlemen? Once you've paid for this little beauty you get chance to win a holiday. Worth eighteen pounds of anybody's money if you ask me! Anyway, I was telling you about this chap, absolute blackguard he was..."

    With a forlorn expression, Loveable slips out of the shop and disappears into London, his rear wheel squeaking a little. From Notting Hill Tube to Portobello Road and on to every store in the capital, he is compelled to tell every single customer about this fabulous trip to a simian heartland, the very mention of which chimes a lost ancestral chord, a misty memory of Home. Instead he finds to his delight that the entire Oddbins estate has been taken over by chimpanzees, every one of them totally in command of this remarkable customer initiative, and driven entirely by thoughts of numerous festive get-togethers, for chimp and customer alike! The look on his face changes from desolate to blissful as he realises that the once lonely city is now teeming with his extended family, all wanting to take him to their bosom. Even the thought of exactly what might happen to a branch under Crafty's management doesn't rain on his parade!

    Now to find that accommodating couple from Maida Vale who were keen to put him up for the night. They might want to share the bottle of Château Peyrabon Haut-Médoc in his pannier, that his brother inveigled from a bloke wanting a bag of crisps. Will Crafty notice it's been acquisitioned? Will Loveable be expected to open the wine with his feet? Will the couple have plenty of 'nanas in after all this cycling...?


    And off he squeaks along Elgin Avenue, back towards Maida Vale, wondering how the shops outside London are dealing with having chimps all over the place. Aren't we all...?

  • The Chimpmas Season is Upon Us!

    Glasgow, a city of contrasts; of culture of confusion, poetry and folklore, melody and melancholy, comedy and grit. All of human life is there, every incandescence of its beautiful cosmic infinity!

    And so it would seem, is the odd chimpanzee...

    In a dusty and forgotten room above a branch of Oddbins in Glasgow city centre, a chimp is reading a book about wine. He is a chimp with a thirst for knowledge, and is entranced by the section about the wines of Bordeaux. The differences between the two sides of the River Gironde, the great classification of 1855, the way the region can produce such accessible everyday wines while also being a byword for quality, luxury, history and so much more.


    Just as every facet of humanity can be found in Glasgow, he muses, so can every aspect of wine culture be found in this one region. He checks the time. "It's getting dark early", he says to a now-closed book. "Soon be Christmas! Time to go downstairs...". He types out a message on his smartphone, amused that the technology bears his own name, Smart. Pressing send, he sneaks down a staircase and out onto the shop floor.

    In a stock room in another branch of Oddbins, in London's Crouch End, another chimpanzee is opening boxes of wine. Many of the bottles hold little interest for him, but hold on, this looks more like it. Let's see, Matetic Coralillo Winemaker's Blend, with a lovely picture of a, what's that, a cow?! No, it's Chilean, it'll be a llama.


    Notorious, as the chimp was baptised, knows and loves Chilean wine. He's been over there quite a few times while things cooled down on his manor. A quick look at the label tells him the wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Syrah, and he gauges, quite accurately, that he's looking at a brambly red fruit compote held up by toasty oak and vanilla notes. His wine acumen is an unsung part of his character.


    He's about to slip a bottle into his pocket when his phone pings, and as he reads the message, the bottle falls by the wayside. It's from Smart. It's time to get out on to the shop floor and sing the unsung.

    And in that moment, every branch of Oddbins unleashes its inner chimp, and the #12ChimpsofChristmas take over the estate. Loveable, Crafty, Thoughtful, Passionate, Snazzy - no, not the staff, those are the names of the chimps. And so are Curious, Hilarious, Outspoken, Sassy and Crazy; like daemons of folklore, each branch has a chimp that embodies its character.

    The #12ChimpsofChristmas will be quietly taking control of all of our stores as you read this. Visit your local branch to discover their inner chimpanzee, and stay tuned to see what they'll be getting up to as Christmas approaches.

    Twelve Chimps Of Christmas

  • 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


    Q3b 2015 - Discover the World Ansel Adams

    We’re with Ansel Adams on this one: every experience is a form of exploration: every vista seen, every person met – and every wine tasted – is an exploration. Sometimes these experiences may be small; perhaps you’ve never tried garlic chilli sauce on cheese on toast, but then you try it and you realise it’s really, really good. Sometimes these experiences are grand; you discover that cheese on toast with garlic chilli sauce is amazing with Chianti.

    With that in mind, we would like to invite you to explore the world with us – on a shoestring ‘to boot’! We’re not saying we should hitchhike around Europe wearing a poncho and a ban the bomb badge – no, we’re saying we can explore the world on a budget, via the medium of wine! The point is, you don’t have to have a Learjet and a Coutts bank account to appreciate the vast expanse of human experience; you just need an open mind, man. Plus, unlike certain 'budget' airlines, there are no nasty surprises on if *shock horror* you want to take luggage with you...

    *Spreads out a map and plants three pins* we can think of no better place to start than with France, New Zealand and Argentina. All packed? Let’s go…

    Q3b 2015 - Discover the World Ansel France

    Rocking up in the garrigue-scented hills of Languedoc, southwest France, we arrive at L. Metairie; a unique cooperative with cutting-edge technology, an inventive winemaking team and an emphasis on wines that have a sense of place. Having spread out the picnic rug and bust out the brie, we will be wanting some of L. Metairie’s Dolia Grenache (£6.50). With its fresh red fruit and sprinkling of pepper, it is a cracking way to begin our adventures. Alors…

    If you have always wanted to go to New Zealand then now, by the Power of Wine, we can! New Zealand makes us think of cool streams, emerald mountains… and Hobbits. Whilst The Giesen Brothers’ Salmon Run Sauvignon Blanc (£8) doesn’t taste like Hobbits (we’re not completely sick), its dazzling aromas of elderflower, kaffir lime leaves and pink grapefruit does transport you to a verdant Kiwi brook. Now, if we could only catch some salmon, we’d be laughing all the way to…

    Q3b 2015 - Discover the World

    Argentina! More specifically, to the Tulum Valley at the foot of the Andes. This little-known corner of South America has an altitude of around 2,000 feet and a semi-desert climate. Maybe we’ll gather for an asado (a feck-off big barbecue), maybe we’ll gawp at some Alpacas, maybe we’ll try some Malbec. Like your trip, you want your wine to give you an authentic sense of place and, with its forward black fruit, mocha and spice, that is exactly what Incienso Malbec (£7) does.


    20 June, 2014

    Major sporting tournaments tend to polarise sporty types and non-sporty types into two squarely opposing camps. The sporty types gather together to discuss tactics, glancing dubiously at the non-sporty types, while the non-sporty types wonder what the fuss is about, becoming increasingly incredulous towards their Lycra-clad opposites. But the World Camp introduces a third type: the ignorant enthusiast (Oddbins falls into this category). So, this week, whether you’re a lover, a hater or an intrigued novice swept up in the excitement of it all, we’ve something for you this World Cup…


    Firstly, for the haters. We know that, when you haven’t got your head in the sand and your fingers in your ears avoiding football, you’re a really nice bunch. You like a good laugh and you like rooting out curious libations – that’s why you subscribe to Odd News, right? So, to appease your football-weary souls, may we introduce a lama. “What???” you may splutter. But don’t worry, we’re not talking about the fluffy South American camel, we’re talking about Mari – Join the Lama (275ml, 5.9%, £3.95): a medium-sweet fusion of Mosel Riesling, fermented Yerba Maté (tea leaves) from Argentina and Austrian elderflower. It sounds mental but it tastes out of this world. Also from Austria and also rather leftfield, we have a sparkling Grüner Veltliner made by wine wunderkind Markus Huber. With all the sensual orchard fruit and bold spice of still Grüner Veltliner, wrapped up in an enticing, soft fizz, it’s a total delight. Supplies are limited, so get stuck in whilst you can.


    Secondly, for the ‘intrigued novice swept up in the excitement of it all’, we have a cunning plan that involves watching the World Cup and winning a £50 gift card, without knowing a crumb about football. Here’s how it works:

    1. Purchase a pair of wines that are up against each other (wine matching explanations here; wine and fixtures here)
    2. Taste the wines at home. (This is easier with four friends or relatives).
    3. Score the wines thus: each taster decides if they prefer one wine over the other or if it’s a draw. Each person preferring a wine scores a goal for the corresponding team.  So if three tasters prefer wine A, one prefers wine B and one has no preference, your score is 3-1 to Wine A. If all 5 tasters don’t have a preference between the wines, your score is 0-0
    4. Post your score (whether it’s 3:2 or 0:0), with a picture of both wines together, on Twitter or Facebook, using @OddbinsWine. To state the bleedin’ obvious, Tweets must be posted before the match.*
    5. All correct predictions will win a £50 gift card**
    6. We do not accept bribes. Unlike certain members of a Geneva-based ‘not-for-profit organisation’ reportedly.

    *ReTweets do not count as entries
    **One prediction is allowed per person, per match

    DES OLLIEUXThirdly, for people who actually know about football. Regardless of whether England cling on to life tonight (Forza Italia!), you can win wine this World Cup. If you correctly predict any score, using your knowledge of the game, we’ll give you both teams’ representative wines. For example, if you predict that Germany will beat Ghana 3-1 tomorrow, you win Château Ollieux La Volière (representing France) and Oveja-Negra Sauvignon Blanc/Carmenère (representing Ghana). For all the team’s wines, click here. To repeat, we’re inviting you to call any match to win wine. Just reply to this email, or Tweet us @Oddbins, using #WorldCup, before the match.*

    *Again, one prediction is allowed per person, per match. ReTweets do not count as entries.

    Yea, though our football knowledge be sparse and our passion sporadic, we will find a way to involve wine in the World Cup in any way we can.

    Go football!


    Or: How Fran Evans Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Her Palate

    Fran Evans“Life is for living and wine is for drinking. It's easy to stick with what we know – we all have our favourites. But it’s good to try new things; it keeps things vibrant. With a bit of guidance from Dave and the team at Oddbins Crouch End, I have taken some small steps outside of my usual style, and I haven't looked back.” – Fran Evans, Winner of The Palate 2012

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, well, at Oddbins at least, that there are some grapes that have a seriously bad rep, for no good reason. Chardonnay is one of these. Without naming names, there are some mass-produced, heavily-oaked, simply unpleasant examples of this varietal that have taken its reputation to the edge.

    However, Chardonnay has recently been thrown a life-line from a very unlikely quarter. But, in the best cinematic tradition, having begun with the dramatic climax, we need to turn the clocks back and start from the beginning…

    Wine’s not hard. But ever since our former beer-swilling nation was introduced to the marvels of wine, it seems to have been written in stone that you have to talk about wine simultaneously down your nose and out of your bottom. Hurumph. It’s like the wine world has been building a wall made of elitist bricks and pretentious cement to keep the world from seeing that, behind that wall, anyone can ‘do’ wine. So our little fantasy at Oddbins is that we get to drive a massive metaphorical bulldozer straight through this damnable wall, laughing maniacally whilst listening to “Take the Power Back” by Rage Against the Machine. OK, OK, maybe that’s overegging it a teensy weensy bit, but we would really like to cut through the rubbish and make wine more accessible and, therefore, more enjoyable.

    So, back in June, we launched The Palate 2012, a nationwide competition to find the UK’s finest taste buds. Over the course of three gruelling blind tastings, 5,000 entrants were whittled down to a final 10, who slogged it out at a climactic final last month, hosted by our Head of Buying, Emma Nichols, with TV’s Peter Richards MW and Susie Barrie MW. The eventual winner of The Palate 2012 was Crouch End resident Fran Evans, who scooped the prestigious title of The Palate 2012, a holiday for two to Tuscany's Frescobaldi Wine Estate and a magnum of Champagne. You can watch a video of the final here...

    Fran was an interesting winner because she has a passion for wine but not the encyclopaedic knowledge that she was worried she might need. She really needn’t have worried. Because the thing about blind tastings, is that they are great levellers. "Connoisseurs" can often find themselves knocked into a cocked hat by the raw talent of "amateurs", because blind tastings are just that: they are blind – to knowledge, experience and, happily, ego.

    la Closerie des Lys ChardonnayAnd now we return to that cliff-edge and the mysterious saviour of Chardonnay… who do you think the hero was, but our very own Fran. After she was crowned the winner, we invited her to pick a wine from a blind tasting line-up for us to stock in our stores. Whether what happened next surprised her more or less than winning The Palate, we don’t know, but she picked a Chardonnay; a grape that she had, shall we say, professed not to admire. In fact she said she couldn’t stand it. But Chardonnay is a cunning thing, a master of disguise. It is the shape-shifting David Bowie or Kylie of the wine world. Sometimes it appears as a big, buttery, oaky goliath and other times it pops up as a restrained, minerally Chablis; Chilean Chardonnay, left unoaked, can be clean and tropical, while Burgundian versions are frequently delicate, orchard-scented little things.

    So, while Fran was recovering from her surprise at choosing a Chardonnay, we were mentally fist-punching the air, because it gave us a valid excuse to extoll the virtues of this much-maligned grape. Although we’d happily bang on about it all day, we’re sure you’d rather hear it from Fran, so this is what she said:

    View from Collovray et Terrier's vineyard“Of the four wines, la Closerie des Lys really stood out. I'm not a fan of oaked whites therefore usually steer clear of Chardonnays, however this was unoaked and was a lot lighter on the palate than the new world Chardonnays I have tasted in the past.”

    In fact, with its minimal intervention philosophy, natural pest controls and low-carbon footprint, having only come from across the Channel, la Closerie des Lys is a natural match for Sustainability Officer Fran. Looks like it was a match made in heaven.

    Collovray et Terrier TeamThe grapes used in la Closerie des Lys make for a beautifully subtle wine because they benefit from a long, slow growing period. This is made possible by the relatively cool climate in Limoux, which benefits from fresh winds from the Pyrenees. The winemakers (the Collovray and Terrier families) established a sound reputation for making Chardonnay in their home region of Mâconnais in Southern Burgundy. When these Chardonnay experts set up shop in Limoux, they opted to classify their wine as a more basic Vin de Pays, instead of Limoux’s Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC), so they didn’t have to include the sometimes unpopular Mauzac grape, which is a prerequisite of the appellation. The results are pretty stunning: pale yellow in colour, with hints of green, it’s a clean, fresh style of Chardonnay, with a complex nose of white fruits and flowers. The palate is full, fresh and tropical, while the finish is crisp and refreshing.

    That’s all from us for now. We’ll give the delightful Fran the last word:

    “Winning The Palate 2012 was a really nice surprise and, as well as boosting my confidence in my own palate, it has swung me on to a wine that I had previously ruled out. I will definitely be perusing the Burgundy section for more Chardonnay from now on!” (LT)

    Raimat Abadia WhiteThis post was written while drinking: Raimat Abadia White 2010. Chardonnay, the little hussy, makes a superb bedfellow for a number of other grapes. So if, *mopping our brow*, we haven’t convinced you of its merits, then you could always stick a tentative toe in the water with a blend, like this Spanish beauty. 75% Chardonnay and 25% Albariño, it is a tropical, citrusy little number that would really shine served alongside a spicy paella with chicken, chorizo, clams and mussels.

    To ‘change the record’, so to speak, check out the incredible dance moves displayed by Mick Jagger and David Bowie in the video for their 1985 collaboration: Dancing in the Street. For every person who we manage to convert into a Chardonnay-lover, we promise to dance like this. Now that’s service, ain’t it?


    Oddbins' Guide to Love

    Well hello there.  You're looking good.  Have you been working out?  Or have you done something different with your hair?  Just relax and make yourself comfortable while we turn that dimmer switch all the way down, light some candles, pour you a glass of wine and slip on some Barry White.  We’ve got some lovin’ for you, Blogbins-style, and the chance to win a bottle of fizz…

    Before you start worrying that this is taking a rather creepy and unsavoury turn that might end up with you topless and feeling dirty by the end of the page, let us give you the backstory.  Regular commuters on the Oddbus may already know about our quarterly themes, but for all of those who have only just hopped aboard, let us bring you up to speed.  We've divided the year into four bite size chunks and allocated each one a theme.  Our first stop was “taste” at the beginning of the year, where we explored the safe territory of food and wine matching.  We then lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a wall of “sound”, where we found the perfect songs to accompany our wines.  Back on the road like Jack Kerouac, we took a wrong turn and ended up in “words”, where we had a bit of a face-off with the law before they decided it would be foolhardy to do so and as such left us to wend our merry way.  Where to next then?  Well, the Oddbus has just embarked on the final leg of this year's vinous journey and we have a complementary ticket for you to join us on the road to Lovetown.

    Love?  What kind of a theme is that for this time of year?  Everyone knows that February is when all the mushy stuff happens.  Well not really.  There’s a spike in the suicide rate and the number of people who file for divorce around that time of year, loads of underwear is bought but most of it is never worn because the size was wrong and on 14 February 287AD St Valentine was beaten to death with clubs before being beheaded for good measure.  Not so loving is it?  No, we reckon that the end of the year is the time for love, these long chilly nights are perfect.  November and December are more popular for weddings than February, then there are all the parties, celebrations and of course Christmas.  What’s not to love?

    Sorry to drop the other C-Bomb on you.  We know that we are retailers, but we still get annoyed by our compadres rolling Christmas out earlier and earlier each year.  Do they really think you are that disorganised?  Or do they think you weren't aware that it was coming round, again?  Why must they crush your festive spirit by stressing you out?  As you know, here at Oddbins we are not your typical retailer.  We've got some news for you: Christmas is not a unique snowflake, there will be another one next year.  There's still plenty of time to prepare, it's only November.  It is a matter of fact that December is all about Christmas, buying presents, thinking about your loved ones and spreading the love around.  Here at Oddbins we say that November should be all about you, look after number one for a bit.  You don't have to give all that love away until next month, keep some for yourself.  If you aren’t sure how to go about that, we’ve got three lovely ideas for you here…

    Treat Yourself: Next month you are going to receive a whole load of gifts that you didn't want.  You are going to have to smile through it even though the physical act of just holding that nasty jumper has caused a small part of you to die inside.  How many more scented candles do you need?  How do their manufacturers cope with the smell at the factory, when one in your house smells too pungently it causes you to gag a little every time you enter the same room as it?  We have too many fillings to eat toffees; a whole box of them is just cruel.  No, we say treat yourself now, it’ll soften the disappointment later.  And besides the family are coming next month so you’ll have to hide all the good stuff, what better place could there be to hide it than in your tummy?

    We know this all sounds a little selfish, so how about this as a compromise; our new and exclusive Wine Not War Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  A thoroughly modern offering from one of the world’s most prestigious wine regions, packed to the rafters with dark fruits and meaty spices, you couldn’t ask for a better autumnal red to accompany a rich stew.  And if that isn’t enough, for every bottle sold, we’ll donate £1 to the charity War Child, whose efforts are offering real hope to children caught up in the horrors of war all over the world.  A great wine, a great cause, a great way to spread some love while treating yourself.

    Cook Yourself Something Nice: Whatever the rest of the world thinks we pretty damn fine cooks here in the UK.  Apparently we’re even better than those culinary masters, the French.  Don’t believe us?  The following inflammatory words are not ours; they are the words of French television station TF1: “They trounced us at Trafalgar.  They whipped us at Waterloo.  Now the English have scored their ultimate victory: they are better at cooking than us… we, the self-proclaimed kings of nosh.” (of course they said it in French).  This revelation was based on a survey carried out by two magazines, one French and one British, which showed that here in Blighty more of us cook daily and we spend longer over it than our French counterparts.  This might just mean that we’re slower, but based on what you guys tell us you’re cooking; we think it’s more likely that you’re all just summoning up your inner Hestons and Jamies.

    Well we say, why not give your food the restaurant treatment it deserves?  Take Miles Mossop’s Max as an example, at £18 it’s a couple of quid more than you might expect to spend on a bottle of red wine in a restaurant, but this is a whole nother level.  We’re talking fine wine not house wine here my friend.  And introduce Max to a good home-cooked steak and boom, flavour fireworks popping off all over your mouth.  Want more of an incentive?  Well at home there’s no 12.5% service charge, no restaurant mark up, no drunken office parties and it is a really short trip home.  The only downside to staying in is the washing up, but that can wait until tomorrow.

    Experiment: Do people really end up settling down with their first loves?  Here at Oddbins Towers we reckon probably not.  Love is like wine, you have to try a few before you find the one for you.  What if your perfect tipple is out there, you just haven’t found it yet?  That’s why we hold free wine tastings in all our shops every weekend to allow you to experiment.  There's no obligation to buy anything, just pop in for some banter and a little snifter of something delicious.  Who knows, you might find “the one”, and maybe even a bottle of wine!

    Apparently a survey has revealed that thousands of marriages a year can be directly traced back to romances that began during coffee breaks at work.  We say pah to bean based hot drinks, the flickering flames of passion are far more likely to be kindled over something grape-based.  If you have a story of cupid swooping in low over a glass of wine or love at first sight as you both reached for the last bottle on the shelf of the wine merchant, then tell us about it.  We’ve so many fond feelings at the moment, we’re offering a free bottle of fizz, to be delivered in time for Christmas, for the best three stories.  So get your quills out and send us a love note, or just type it into the comments box below. (TO)

    This post was written while drinking: Château de la Roulerie Chenin Blanc.  All this lovin’ has got us a bit hot under the collar, like we’ve just been dancing Gangnam Style in a sauna wearing a gorilla costume lined with Deep Heat.  Luckily this cheeky little Chenin Blanc is the wine equivalent of an ice-cold shower, perfect for cooling down.  Don’t think this is over though, we’ll be back soon to drop some more love on you, because like Audrey Hepburn, we were “born with an enormous need for affection and a terrible need to give it.”  And if this hasn't been enough entertainment for you, why not check out our video of the final of The Palate 2012.

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