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Oddbins Wine Merchants

  • CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE

    We are proud to introduce Oddbins Nº1...

    In November 1952, Italian crooner extraordinaire and future star of The Godfather, Al Martino, topped the first ever UK Singles Chart with the enormously forgettable Here In My Heart. It stagnated there on the top spot for nine whole weeks, thus becoming the first ever Christmas Number One.

    Al Martino

    The list of its successors over the past 50 years makes for fairly tortuous reading and even more painful listening. Mr Blobby, Bob the Builder, the Spice Girls three times, Cliff Richard the same, Paul McCartney eight times, Jimmy Osmond’s Long Haired Lover From Liverpool, Slade (perpetrators of the first cynical Christmas Number One-abe), Michael Jackson’s Earth Song described by San Jose Mercury News as “flat” and “whiny” and an almost never-ending procession of The X Factor protégés, who would go on to inevitably drop off the face of the earth after successfully ruining Christmas for everyone else.

    But this year Oddbins has released a potential Christmas Number One for the people. Before you worry that we have recorded Wine Aid by The Oddbinites, let us assure you that there is no singing involved; we are talking about a beer, a very special beer indeed…

    Over the last few years we have been quietly building up an extensive range of glorious beers from areas local to our shops. We are now working with over 50 breweries and cider makers from up and down the UK, including Rocky Head, Tempest, Bristol Beer Factory, Moncada, Redwillow, Pressure Drop, Beavertown, Old Dairy, Celt Experience, Fyne Ales, By The Horns, Cromarty and Kernel, to name just a tasty handful.

    One of our favourites is the East London Brewing Company, a husband and wife team who run a 10-barrel microbrewery in Leyton. While many of the new wave of brewers have gone down the route of making beers that spank and slap your taste buds around like they’ve taken the submissive role in Fifty Shades of Ale, ELB make beer with integrity, beer for drinking, beer for grown-ups. Their honest style has made them firm favourites amongst our customers and staff, and therefore the perfect choice for our inaugural craft beer collaboration. So we rounded up a posse (Oddbinites Sarah, Kaleigh, Cat and Dave) and headed down there to bash some spices, manhandle some hops and help make something beautiful…

    Oddbins Nº1 is a limited edition amber winter ale infused with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, orange peel, nutmeg and vanilla. For the beer geeks amongst you, it’s brewed with oats, Styrian Bobek hops from Slovenia and Pale, Maris Otter, Cara, Wheat and Crystal 150 malts. The result is an intensely aromatic brew that tastes like bottled Christmas: tangy orange and ginger marmalade, mulling spices, vanillary oak, lebkuchen, pfeffernüsse, stollen and a gentle hoppiness. For those who prefer beer to wine, it is the perfect partner for turkey and all the trimmings, farmhouse cheddar and mince pies or just for getting into that festive spirit. Available exclusively at Oddbins in selected shops (London and Scotland for the moment) for £2.95 a bottle or by the case in the beer section of Oddbins.com.

    Call it a hunch, but we don’t think that Nigella Lawson is going to release this Christmas’ bestselling cookbook and surely Jamie Oliver has his fingers in so many pies there isn’t a spare one to pen a recipe. So we’re going to take over the reins by releasing our first culinary experiment too, inspired by Oddbins Nº1. It’s very much our kind of recipe; three ingredients, one of which you are allowed to drink some of…

    Festive Spiced Beer Chocolate Mousse

    Makes 4 servings

    Ingredients

    • 200g Dark Chocolate
    • 125ml Oddbins Nº1
    • 300ml Double Cream

    Recipe

    1. Gently melt the chocolate in the beer.
    2. Whip cream until stiff.
    3. Gently fold chocolate mixture and cream together.
    4. Pour into 4 ramekins or glasses and chill.
    5. Drink the remaining beer immediately.

    To conclude, our advice is don’t waste your money on bad songs this Christmas. Make Oddbins your Christmas Number One, specifically Oddbins Nº1. And keep your eye out in the New Year for the next episode in our craft beer series. To be continued…

    This blog was written while drinking: Oddbins Nº1, Quadrant, Pale Ale and Nightwatchman from the delectable ELB Mixed Case. Grab one before we drink 'em all.

  • TERRY’S TALES Part Four: Thumbs Down

    Welcome to Part Four of Terry's Tales. If you've missed any episodes, you can catch up with Part One herePart Two here and Part Three here.

    TERRY'S TALES

    Part Four: Thumbs Down

    There they were: the Queen slumped and agog; Terry and Gwinny sparkly eyed and irreverently happy.

    After a word with her Lord Lieutenant (they had appointed themselves military titles after finding an old army register in the woods), the Queen regained her composure and a cool, surmising look spread across her face. Her previously concerned offspring, who lay, lazily, all around her, relaxed a little as their Mother regained her composure.

    “We are amused at one’s earnest outpouring,” she drooled, enjoying what she considered highly sardonic emphasis, “but we must arrive at the admittedly unfortunate occasion of your… extermination” the last word delivered with such bile even her litter shuddered.

    Looking from the rotund Queen, lolling in her lair, to the sycophantically approving Generals, to the terminally absent-minded colony beyond, Terry and Gwinny felt like the fun might be finally over. Barely hearing as the Queen gave the order for their removal, and the hideously sober reality hit home.

    Offering their heads up for the collars placed before them, they started and hunched suddenly to the ground as an almighty noise, rocked the entire chamber: a high-pitched, gurgling giggle, that made way for delighted tones, that sounded like “Daddy, I found a big ant hill,” as the roof began pitching in in great clods above them.

    The ensuing pandemonium saw the guards jumping in terror before pelting headlong to the nearest exits. Terry, now in full super hero mode, grabbed Gwinny’s arm and swept her with him towards a smallish side tunnel. “Quick!” he cried, grabbing her arm, and they hurried towards it.

    The roof was now pouring in on the Chamber and the bright sky opened up above them. Having reached the tunnel entrance, Terry and Gwinny turned back to watch it all collapse, only to see the intruder, grinning from ear to ear, greedily scoop up Her Royal Highness, hissing and helpless, for a thorough examination.

    Bursting out of the tunnel, they were greeted with a white landscape, the like of which they’d never seen before. Darting across the wintry scene, which was interrupted only by the snow-covered fir trees and a lark, rising up into the sky above them, they made for the shelter of some nearby gorse. Here they allowed themselves to pause for breath, and did so, with considerable relief.

    Evening was falling and the forest air was cool and refreshing after the hot chaos of the inner chamber. Leant up against the trunk of the bush, Terry allowed himself to reflect. As far as days go, it had been pretty eventful. That morning he had awoken in turmoil, believing it unwise to confuse his steady life with women and now here he was, the colony prodded and poked to oblivion, with Gwinny by his side. All his life, he’d lived in placid acquiescence. Why? But it didn’t bother him now as he gazed out over the snow, watching the hill continue to fall in on itself; he was simply amazed at his own complacency. Deep in these thoughts, he nodded off, into an instant slumber.

    Read Part Five by clicking here.

     

    Images artfully crafted by Catalin Ardeleanu.

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

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

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

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

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

    Welcome to Part Three of Terry's Tales. If you've missed any episodes, you can catch up with Part One here and Part Two here.

    TERRY'S TALES

    Part Three: Trouble at the Hill

    Full of life and love and the promise of excitement, he charged out of his tunnel only to find her entertaining a few off-duty workers with a coy dance routine outside on the path. But when she saw Terry, deranged and wide-eyed, still clutching his tea, she went weak and collapsed in laughter for a second time. This wasn’t what he’d wanted, but he didn’t care anymore. “Mrs, er, Miss.. er, we should copulate!” Again, not what he’d wanted to say, but not to worry. Laughter petering out, she told him that sounded like a lovely proposition, but maybe they ought to have some tea first. So they walked off, femur in femur. “Gwinny,” she said. “Terry,” he replied. “How’d you do?”

    No sooner had they got in the door of Terry’s nest, talking animatedly now – Terry, loosening up in a way that was a marvel to him – than they heard something odd. It started off low, like an underground humming, but it grew louder and more discernible, until they recognised it for what it was: the inexorable thud, thud, thud of a thousand footsteps.

    Quaking, as the noise reached fever pitch and then stopped outside their door, they knew they must have come for them. They’d been careless and Terry was grief-stricken with the thought that it was going to happen again; that his clumsiness was going to result in the death of another woman whom he loved.

    Illustration by Catalin Ardeleanu

    They looked at each other as the General kicked down the door: Terry, amazingly, still holding his tea, and Gwinny, unrecognisably vulnerable. But, however frightened he might have been, the sight of Gwinny, cowering like that made Terry swell with indignation and blind anger. What came next was a surprise to them both, but he reared up on his hind tarsi and roared,

    “You pathetic, miserable cowards!,” gesticulating wildly, “look what you’ve done to Gwinny!”

    Well, even as they came marching towards them, Gwinny felt exhilarated and thought her chest would just burst with pride. “Isn’t he wonderful?” She gleefully said to the soldier escorting her out by the femur, “I think I rather like him!”

    On hearing this, Terry suddenly became flushed with the knowledge that he didn’t care if he lived or died, as long as he experienced love, and so he waltzed merrily along, as the grim-faced guards thudded on. Catching Gwinny’s eye, and seeing she was equally jubilant, he couldn’t have been happier.

    Illustration by Catalin Ardeleanu

    All of which meant that, when they arrived at the Queen’s Chambers, much to Her Majesty’s displeasure, they were grinning from ear to ear like a couple of naughty school children. Not convinced that the gravity of the situation had quite struck them, the Queen shifted in her nest, white rage flashing across her eyes.

    “Do you mock me?” She eventually bellowed.

    “You, Ma’am? No, Ma’am!” offered Terry, amiably.

    “Then what do you mean by this?”

    “Well Ma’am, I just don’t care anymore! This whole colony is ridiculous! And I’ve got this beautiful ant by my side, who makes me very happy. And the fact is, we can Talk, which is a joy. We can chew the cud or float off on whimsical flights of fancy and, in doing so, we connect, you see! It’s just wonderful, isn’t it? We’re not revolutionaries – we rather like the established order – we just want to be able to lose our selves in conversation if we feel like it.”

    Boggle-eyed and with a mood perched somewhere between rage and incredulity, the Queen sat, slumped, for quite some time.

    Read Part Four by clicking here.

     

    Images artfully crafted by Catalin Ardeleanu.

  • TERRY'S TALES Part Two: The Lady Killers

    Welcome to Part Two of Terry's Tales. If you missed Part One, you can catch up here.

    TERRY'S TALES

    Part Two: The Lady Killers

    If he was honest with himself, Terry knew that there was a bigger reason, lurking below the surface, for his outburst. It was the profound anxiety suffered by every male in the colony, that none of them could talk about (in fairness, Terry thought, they can’t talk): that to copulate was to die. Copulation Means Extermination, as his dear old Ma used to chirp.

    Making the tea back in his tunnel the next morning, the rain beat down outside and he put an old record on and stood, inert, as the steam billowed from the kettle.

    “Oh to be an ant!” He thought, pitifully. What other creatures must choose between having sex and dying, and never Doing the Deed? Birds do it. Bees do it. Even bloody humans do it. A cruel joke, that one.

    It had never bothered him before – he’d taken it as life’s lot, as he had done with being a Talker – but it seemed to bother him rather a lot now. Why? “May the Queen have Mercy, I like her.” Admitting it was a relief. “I like her, but I don’t want to die… I like her but I don’t want to die,” he glumly mused. Settling into his chair and stretching out, he thought of his Ma again.  She’d never regretted sex, even though the old man had quickly snuffed it.

    “It’s part of life, son,” she had soothingly told him, never one to make a fuss unduly. Terry had always admired her stoicism and twinkle of naughty humour, however bad things were  – she wore life lightly and he tried to do the same. But thinking of her now, of how her short time in the colony was ended so brutally and mercilessly, he could not muster the same lightness and he could not escape the stifling sense of guilt.

    It had happened on Terry’s first week birthday, when he was officially presented to the colony at the weekly Initiation Ceremony for new arrivals, attended by the Queen. Wearing her best attire, antennae bristling with pride, Terry’s Ma took her young son along to the Inner Sanctum, adjacent to the Queen’s chambers. But, on the lap of honour with the other arrivals, Terry, still lacking in co-ordination, tripped up and plunged face-first into the neatly-raked soil. Having been sternly warned by his Ma that morning not to speak in front of anyone, least of all the Queen, Terry held back the cry of mild expletives running through his head, but it was his Ma who made the fatal mistake. “Terry!” she’d cried as he fell. The march stopped, a thousand ant heads swivelled in unison in her direction. She made no move and no further sounds but, as the Queen shrieked instructions for her to be taken off to the gallows, she looked at Terry and winked. Though now blinded by tears, he winked back, and smiled. And then she was gone.

    And it was then that Terry realised that it was the Queen and the Generals, and they alone, who were supposed to talk. His Ma had always warned him that they hated speaking, though she didn’t know why, and now the depressing consequences were crystal clear to this young orphan.

    Shell-shocked and trembling, Terry saw that the room’s attention had now turned to him and, before he could think, a severe-looking General was standing before him, watching him with scientific scrutiny. “What’s your name, ant?” Terry looked as blank as he could. “Your name!!” Summoning as much dullness in his eyes as he could, Terry looked blankly up and continued his silence. Cogs churning, the General, not quite as intelligent as he imagined himself, was satisfied that Terry was not a talker. So it was that he escaped death and began his lonely path in colony life.

    Presently, Terry noticed that the rain had stopped and the temperature had picked up a little. He put down his now cold tea and walked to the window. His Pa had sacrificed it all for love and neither he nor his Ma had thought twice about it. The romance of it softened Terry’s mood and he made up his mind in a flash. “They’re right. They are so right! Living just isn’t living without loving!” And, with that, he grabbed his coat, headed out into the rain and resolved on finding this mystery ant, wherever she was.

    Read Part Three by clicking here.

     

    Images artfully crafted by Cat Ardeleanu.

  • FUN SHOCKING NEWS

    After the despair of the last edition of Oddnews, the equilibrium has now been restored. Normal fun service will be resumed forthwith because we are proud to announce that Christmas is back on…
    After Father Christmas found himself on the sharp end of a reindeer antler, it looked like we would have to call time on all the merriment. But you can once again charge your glasses, because Mother Christmas has taken over the reins. And we have it on good authority (i.e. hers) that she was doing all the hard graft anyway and the fat man was just taking the credit. In fact, after we plied her with gin and tonic, she even divulged that her husband doesn’t like the red suit that Coca Cola gave him, he isn’t particularly jovial and he doesn’t even care that much for kids. So Mother Christmas has promised big changes for this festive period…

    …not only has she taken over our Twitter account and started giving away Champagne every day on it, but she has also released another two Tariq Knight magic videos. You can watch the second and third instalments by clicking here. These include how to remove a cork without a corkscrew and how to move a bottle using only your mind. To be honest, we think Mother Christmas might have a crush on that handsome young magician. But that’s not all, now she is publishing elf lit’ on our blog. Regular readers will have come to expect the unexpected, but this is extreme even for us!

    Christmas is becoming a little confused. It isn’t just Barry Manilow who is a bit flummoxed by it. With all the parties, presents, preparations and poultry, things seem to be getting out of hand. What was wrong with just a turkey? Why do we have to have to soak a bird stuffed in a bird stuffed in a bird in a bucket overnight at the whim of a celebrity chef? Why do we have to risk getting drunk with our colleagues and photocopying our bottoms? Blazes, there was a time when a lump of coal and a Satsuma in a stocking filled us with joy. Amongst all that stress it is no wonder that people end up getting rubbish gifts like ugly jumpers (not the ironic hipster kind), boring socks or scented candles again. But Oddbins won’t stand for it any longer, that’s why we’ve unleashed our shiny new Christmas gift section, packed with perfect presents, hand selected, ready wrapped and complete with free delivery. Give yourself a break, pour a glass of wine and do the Christmas shopping from the warmth and comfort of your sofa. You haven’t even started planning for Hanukkah yet!
    You would have thought that Manolo Blahnik would be all too aware of the dangers of chocolate-induced cankles. But he is quite right, chocolate is awesome. However, just as his shoes are not for everybody, chocolate also sometimes has an exclusive side…

    Yorkie: it’s not for girls. Flake must be enjoyed in the bath. Terry won’t share his chocolate orange. Toblerone is only available at the airport. Galaxy is favoured by the beautiful but sadly departed. You’re only allowed Kit Kat on a break, eating it on the go would be tantamount to confectionary treason. But there is one chocolate that is for everybody, or at least the over 18s: Chocolate Block 2012 has arrived. The new vintage of this Oddbins-classic Saffer Shiraz-blend is richer and chocolatier than ever. In many ways, it is the adult equivalent of a Kinder Surprise. And if you want to turn the decadence up a notch, why not pick up a magnum of the Chocolate Block 2011? Best enjoyed in Manolo Blahniks darling. Cankles optional.

    That’s all from us, except to let all you craft beer fans know that we are brewing up something very special for you. Watch this space…

  • TERRY'S TALES Part One: Down The Rabbit Hole

    Prologue by Mother Christmas

    Hello there. I’m Mother Christmas, not sure if we’ve been formally introduced? Obviously I already know everything about you, especially vis-à-vis your levels of naughty/niceness, but that’s beside the point. Some of you may be aware that my husband was involved in an awful antler-based accident and has been rendered incapacitated for the festive period. Rather than calling the whole thing off, I have taken hold of the reins (I was doing the majority of the heavy lifting anyway) and have teamed up with Oddbins to deliver the best Christmas ever. I’ve also taken over their Twitter feed, which is far more fun than mucking out the reindeer. Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh yes, I remember…

    The other day the elves and I were chilling (sorry that was just a bit of North Pole-based humour). We’d just sweated out the troubles of the working day via the medium of Bikram Yoga, and the conversation was doing its usual progression from ways to economise on wrapping paper to ribbon curling techniques and on to bubble wrap versus those polystyrene things that we don’t really know the name of. Then we got on to what we would do if we weren’t in the festive fulfilment industry…

    Eerikki (head elf of the Wooden Toy Department) said he’d like to audition for Willow The Musical. Lyyti (Gift Tags Department), bored with children’s toys, coveted a career in the adult toy market. We moved swiftly on from that bombshell. Honestly, I almost choked on my sea buckthorn herbal infusion. Mikko (Dolls and Figurines) has been distilling his own moonshine during the quiet months and yearned to start exporting. Tarja (Elf and Safety) inspired by Tariq Knight aspired to become a magician. And finally, one of our Gift Coverage Analysts, who wished to remain anonymous, so let’s call her J.K. Wrapping, wanted to be a writer. A little elf with big dreams.

    Well, as I’m sure you’re aware, Mother Christmas loves to make dreams come true. So right here on the Oddbins Blog I am publishing J.K. Wrapping's work. So have a read for yourself, this is the first of an epic five parter…

     

    TERRY'S TALES

    Part One: Down the Rabbit Hole

    “Now there’s a thing,” thought Terry. “There is certainly a thing.” Terry was looking up at the blossomy, billowing clouds, way, way above the pine tops, way above the rich, sweetly earthy ant hill and certainly way above his rather perplexed head.

    Rather uncharacteristically, Terry was ambling. He’d always been a sturdy sort of ant – happy to throw himself into whatever work the colony threw at him, thriving on the community spirit and the wholesomeness of it all. The fact that he was different to the rest of the colony – and the fact that he knew there was no way he could or should share this with them – didn’t deter him. He was a stoic, sanguine, albeit occasionally weary, ant.

    But he had just been thrown a considerable curveball and was ambling, not marching, on his way back to the colony. He was deep in reverie and had only just enough sense of mind to hold onto the bark with which he’d laboured all day.

    The catalyst for Terry’s abstracted state? He’d met someone like himself. Another… another Talker. In a flash, his muddlement changed to delight, an enormous grin spread across his face and he developed a decided spring in his step. For the first time in years he was actually happy! He was thrilled! All of a sudden the world took on a keener, more tangible quality and the events of the day began to race through his brain.

    She had walked past him just after lunch, given him a wink and said, cheekily, under her breath, “Afternoon”. It took Terry a while to realise what had happened and he busily carried on gnawing on the bark that was proving tough.

    Then, mid-bite, the thought hit him like a dumbbell: she had spoken. She had bloody well said “Afternoon”! How sweet, how tantalising it sounded, after not having heard words uttered since his dear old Ma had passed over (Ant on High, rest her soul). But his joy was interrupted by panic as he wondered if any other ants had noticed? He knew they couldn’t understand Words, but they sure hated it when they thought they were being used. Breaking rank with the dozy column of workers, Terry went to have a sit down.

    He wiped the cold sweat from his brow and was beginning to calm down when he spotted her walking sassily towards him.For Pete’s sake,” Terry murmured nervously.

    This time she sidled up beside Terry, stretched her front tibia out seductively and said “Words: they’re sexy aren’t they?” They really are, thought Terry, now in quite a state.

    But the thing about Terry was that he had lived in quiet isolation, thinking he was the only ant in the colony who could talk, for the best part of his adult life. His excitement began to drain away and he began to feel terribly discombobulated. Who was this ant – this woman? What right did she have to interrupt his day talking about the sexiness of words? He found himself, much to his surprise, angrily shouting these questions at her.

    To Terry’s dismay, however, his enquiries were not met with answers, but with an ant almost catatonic with laughter. She was heaving and weeping with amusement that was exacerbated every time she saw Terry’s agitated face. She eventually staggered off, leaving Terry to swim in a soup of consternation and disbelief.

    It was late evening by the time Terry re-joined the homeward-bound column. Earnestly but unsuccessfully trying to make sense of the surreal chain of events, he distinctly felt like he wasn’t heading back to the ant hill but down the rabbit hole…

    Read Part Two by clicking here.

     

    Images artfully crafted by Cat Ardeleanu.

  • SHOCK NEWS

    We’re sorry to start this edition of Oddnews on a downer, especially as we had promised you fun in our last correspondence, but we’ve got some really bad news…
    We’ve had our heads down busily planning Christmas and missed the breaking news earlier in the week that Santa Claus had been involved in an accident, resulting in the cancellation of all festivities this year. Our sources inform us that in a dry run for Christmas Eve, he lost control of his sledge at high speed and in the ensuing melee became impaled on Blitzen’s antler.But try not to panic. Rumours abound that Oddbins may have found a replacement for everyone’s favourite annual chimney botherer. We cannot divulge too much at this stage, except that she has commissioned the very talented Tariq Knight to make a series of videos for us, which are sure to put the magic back into Christmas… You can watch the first one by clicking here.

    We’re in love. And we’re not sure that this madness will be so temporary…Captain Correlli’s Mandolin was set on Kephalonia and featured a character called Father Arsenios, who - how can we put this diplomatically? - liked a glass of wine. One wine that he particularly enjoyed was Robola. Jessica Shinner, an Oddbins customer from London, also enjoyed this wine when holidaying on the Greek island, which is thankfully a lot less war torn than in the days described in the bestselling novel. But when she got home she couldn’t find the wine anywhere. That was until she heard about The Listing, our initiative to source those wines that you fall in love with on your summer sojourns or winter wanderings. Jessica filled in our online form and Antonio’s your Captain... Gentilini’s Robola is our first import for The Listing. Jessica has received a cheque in the post for her efforts and it is well deserved because this crisp, but full-bodied, Greek white, with its blossom and citrus flavours, is one to fall very permanently in love with.

    If you feel inspired to drop us a line with your holiday wines, you can find out more about The Listing by clicking here.

    Misery? We don’t want misery. We want fun, more fun and a side portion of fun. So what is the spirit of this age? Is it the rich and rewarding Junmai Akashi Tai Daiginjo Sake? The French grape-based Ciroc Coconut Vodka perhaps? The rare and discontinued Fettercairn 1824 12 Year Old Single Malt perchance? Possibly the overwhelmingly awesome anCnoc 22 Year Old Single Malt? A Jessica Ennis-Hill-esque Cask Strength Glengoyne maybe? Or the only way to finish a Mexican meal: Patron XO Cafe? It's a tough call. But one thing’s for sure, having just added almost 60 new spirits, you are bound to find the spirit of this age and maybe even some festive spirit on Oddbins.com.That’s all from us, but keep your mince pies peeled for our special guest coming soon to Twitter and bringing with her the chance to win some Champagne...

  • ODDBINS VS JAMES BROWN

    It’s Friday and we feel good, da na na na na na na, we knew that we would now, da na na na na na na. And as you might have guessed, just for fun, this edition of Oddnews is inspired by the hardest-working man in show business, Mr James Brown. A man who was knocked down, but came back stronger. A man who wasn’t scared to speak his mind or do his own funky thing. A man who inspired millions. And most importantly a man who said “The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing.” Wise words we think you’ll agree. So, with no further ado, we’re ready to get up and do our thing! We want to get into it, man, you know? Like a wine merchant machine…

    It is often said that this is a man’s world, despite Soul Brother No 1 pointing out that “it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl.” Well Oddbins disagrees. The Palate, our search for UK’s finest amateur wine taster, has proven that when it comes to taste buds, it is very much a woman’s world. For the second year running our competition has been won by a woman (watch the video here). This year’s winner, Chloe Dickson, has chosen a devastatingly delicious wine for our shelves and we are proud to announce that it has finally arrived. The Manz Platónico is an elegant red blend from Alentejo in Portugal, and according to Chloe it is “perfect for the wintry festive period”. So as the cold now seems to have set in, in the words of JB himself, “please, please, please” make sure you don’t miss out on what we predict will soon become an Oddbins’ classic.

    We love Champagne, but why does it all have to look so plain? Mr Dynamite wouldn’t have stood for such boring labels; he’d have wanted sequins, a cape and a horn section fanfare for his fizz. And that is practically what Heidsieck have done with their Monopole Blue Top Champagne. Look at it: blue, yellow and proud. But there is more to his cheeky Pinot Noir-dominated sparkler than just spangly packaging, it is toasty, buttery, spicy and unbelievably good value at just £21 for the next few weeks. A decadent treat without the extravagant price tag. Feel free to take it to the bridge, but we’d recommend enjoying it in the comfort of your own home.

    Just like the Godfather of Soul, Balblair’s Distillery Manager, John MacDonald, demands discipline, perfection and precision from those around him. But the rewards for this level of dedication are awesome. Balblair’s 2002 Single Malt bursts out of the tumbler spraying oranges, lemons, pears, custard creams, vanilla and toffee apples every which way. But it’s the freshness of it that will have your reaching to refill that glass. And the rewards don’t stop there, not only have we knocked £3 off it, but we will also automatically enter anyone who buys a bottle into a competition to win a 16GB mini tablet, perfect for browsing Oddbins.com, searching for images of polydactyl cats or watching videos of James Brown strutting his funky stuff.
    That’s all from us, except to say that if you want to get hold of any of the bottles featured in this email, you can either pop into one of our shops or buy them at Oddbins.com and have them delivered in three working days or even quicker, if you are in a hurry, with our next day service. Toodle pip.
  • FIFTY SHADES, ED MILIBAND AND SOMETHING FIZZY

    We’ve taken our inspiration for this edition of Oddnews from the world of current affairs. So make yourself comfortable as we're about to go all Sarah Montague and John Humphrys on you...
    Before you start worrying, the Fifty Shades of Grey wines are categorically not available at Oddbins. We prefer to source our spankingly good wines from honest to goodness winemakers and keep the marketing guys suitably shackled and restrained. Take for example the brand new and bone dry Bergrettung Riesling made by Jan Klein and a group of likeminded winemakers, who are rescuing and breathing life into abandoned vineyards (hence the name which means "mountain rescue" in German and has absolutely nothing at all to do with popular "Whip Lit"). It bursts with lime, mango and peach and then slaps you with a firm hand of refreshing acidity. You can get to know more of our lovely winemakers in the inspiring and intriguing new Oddbins Winemakers section of our website located here.
    Following the Labour Party Conference the news has been full of reports of Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell’s little spat over whether Ed Miliband is red or not. We’ve always thought that bickering in the world of politics isn’t really news though, it is kind of like saying: “Breaking News: monkeys seen monkeying around.” Sorry, we digress. No such arguments about red credentials can be made about the following two heavyweight candidates from South Africa. In the red corner we have Boekenhoutskloof's Chocolate Block 2011: Oddbins’ iconic keeper that holds more chocolatey goodness and weight than Augustus Gloop. And in the other red corner we have the new kid on our block, Radford Dale’s Gravity (made by Oddbins BFF Alex Dale): a robust bruiser that dances around the palate with an uncanny elegance, maybe a result of having a few years under its belt. Not only are both indisputably red to the very core, but they are also both quite capable of keeping you warm during the winter months, if for some reason the energy companies might claim not to be able to. But we're not taking sides on that frosty debate...
    A roving BBC News journalist put her virtue on the line by accosting wannabe lotharios in a Milanese gelateria. According to her report she was able to ascertain that the economic downturn has hit Italian Casanovas hard. Shockingly, they are unable to “woo women with the care and attention – and lavish expenditure – their predecessors were one renowned for.” As we dry our eyes for all those failing philanderers, we hope you’ll join us in raising a glass of our fabulous, and very reasonably priced, Prosecco Ca’Rosa. This peach, pear and apricot infused Italian fizz is the one, a lifetime partner if you will. Salute to a more monogamous future!

    That’s all from us, time to get our weekend on, ta ra.

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