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Oddbins Wine Merchants

  • THE LOVE MANIFESTO

    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.

  • NOBEL PRIZES, DOPING AND OLIGARCHS

    Straight off the bat we’d like to apologise for our last email. Not the hideous typo in the first line (that was inexcusable and we have severely punished ourselves for that), but the fact that we got a bit carried away with the more expensive wine. In our defence, we’d just been paid and feeling a bit flush we were trying turn this economy around by spending it all.

    This week however, things have turned decidedly autumnal and we’ve edged a little further from our last pay packet. So we’re going to focus on good value reds in this email. But don’t think that means we’re going to be dumbing it down, oh no, we’ve packed in poetry, philanthropy, politics, philosophy and purlieus (sorry that was the best “p” we could find for environment)…

    Poco a Poco Tempranillo - £6.50

    You can’t just drop Pablo Neruda in front of any old wine. The fact that the Poco a Poco Tempranillo weighs in at a humble £6.50, uses no oak to bolster its stature and still has the cojones to stand up to the work of a Nobel Prize winning poet is pretty impressive. Talking of Nobel Prizes, did anybody else think it might have been a little controversial giving the European Union the Nobel Peace Prize at the moment? Sorry, we went off on a tangent there. Mama Oddbins keeps telling us to leave the politics alone. So where were we? Oh yeah, why have we stuck a quote from a dead Chilean diplomat in front of this wine? Well, Poco a Poco, meaning “little by little” in Spanish, got its name because the winemaker believes that to make good wine you have to do it gradually, bit by bit, little by little. As long as he doesn’t go too slowly, we think he’s on to something because this a veritable riot of fruit and check out that price, if only all austerity were this palatable. Oops, riots and austerity, quick get back to the wine. Fans of the bargainous Quinta de Bons Ventos should definitely get a piece of this action. We will certainly never stop loving this wine, not even little by little.

    Nuevo Mundo Carmeñere - £8.50

    Oh Lance Armstrong, what have you done? His hero side inspired millions by overcoming cancer, convinced us to get our bikes out of the shed, raised almost £300m for charity and won probably one of the world’s most gruelling competitions a record seven times. And then his more controversial bullying, tax payer embezzling, chemically enhanced side was revealed. Things aren’t always cut and dry, as our new Nuevo Mundo Carmeñere (£8.50) proves. Let us take you on a mental road trip to Fact Town. It’s ripe, plummy and extremely elegant. No threat of chemical enhancement here; it’s organic and vegan. The guys who make it use lighter bottles and recycled packaging, they have also proactively reduced their greenhouse gas emissions and increased their water efficiency. So far so good, huh? Verging on saintly, we say. But then they’ve just been certified as South America’s first ever carbon neutral winery and here is where the controversy begins. Cue opening of environmental can and spilling forth of green worms. Carbon offsetting is a thorny issue. Good or bad? We say what could be better than thrashing out the pros and cons over a glass of unequivocally delicious Chilean red wine? One glass of this and there is every risk you will get greedy, not Lance Armstrong greedy, just a healthy “mmm another glass would be excellent” greedy.

     

    Château Thénac Fleur du Périgord - £13

    In these tough economic times wealthy oligarchs aren’t always our favourite people. But do they deserve all that bad press? It’s easier to roll our eyes while hearing about their profligate exploits and tax dodging, than admit that some of them can be quite philanthropic. This is why Roman Abramovich spending £40,000 to hire a private jet to fly sushi to him in Azerbaijan, makes a much more tantalising news story than him anonymously paying a ransom to secure the release of British aid workers being held hostage in Chechnya. The fact the latter is true and he saved their lives, and the former might not be true, seeing as how he’s a vegetarian and it’s highly unlikely that anyone would pay that much for the boring cucumber and avocado sushi, is irrelevant. The über-rich aren’t all bad. We can prove it, but we’re afraid we have to use a football analogy, so bear with us. Roman Abramovich pumped a lot of money into an underachieving football club, which turned their fortunes around and promoted livelier competition in the Premier League. His best friend and business partner Eugene Shvidler is doing the vinous equivalent and his exploits are scaring wines’ Premier League big boys: Bordeaux. Mr Shvidler made millions by being very good at maths, he then invested some of it into Château Thénac, a rundown winery in Bergerac, a region that struggles to steal the limelight it deserves from its more famous neighbour. The Fleur du Périgord (£13) that he’s produced is a marvel, offering a vibrant and lively alternative to fusty old Claret and it even won the plaudits of another billionaire, when it was chosen to be served on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class flights. Eugene Shvidler may be the rich one, but with a glass of this, we are the ones that are contented. Lao Tzu says that makes us the rich ones, and he was wise because he wrote the Tao Te Ching and had one of those really long beards that often go with such intelligence.

    That’s all from us, we need to lie down after all these highbrow words.  Toodle pip.

  • WATER, WOOD AND GROUCHO

    While Ed Miliband channels the power of Funkadelic with his bright pink tie and his “One Nation”, in a game of one-upmanship that any politician would be proud of, we’re going to shout about “Two Nations” instead. We’ll start with South Africa and end with France and might add a little sprinkling of Portugal for good measure.

    Jules Renard was a novelist who wrote “Poil de Carotte” (Carrot Hair), an autobiographical short story about the trials and tribulations of being ginger and French, and “le Plaisir de Rompre”, a racy sounding title that suggests it would be advisable to use a Kindle if you wanted to read it on public transport (á la Fifty Shades of Grey). We’ll admit we’ve never read either of these books by Monsieur Renard. We got a bit scared when we found this quote from him: “the horse is the only animal into which you can bang nails.” We hope he was talking about hooves, as it made us think of that Blue Peter story about them putting a nail through one of their tortoises while boxing it up for hibernation. Or was that just an urban myth? Anyway, the watery quote above is either his ironic humour or alternatively, despite being French, he may have known nothing about wine. But he might not have been too far off the right track. Rather than adding water to wine, the key may be in making the wine underwater…

    Our wine buyer Ana Sapungiu just brought in Cellarfoot’s Underwater Syrah, a South African wine aged for 11 months in barrels submerged underwater. Honestly, we promise we’re not making this up. It’s one of the most intriguing and astonishing pieces of winemaking we’ve ever come across. But Ana didn’t stop there, oh no, she also managed to secure us a couple of web exclusive small parcels from Tokara’s Miles Mossop, owner of what is probably South Africa’s finest vinous curriculum vitae. We’ve got his Bordeaux blend “Max” and his unctuous dessert wine “Kika”, made under his own label. Be warned, when these are gone, they’re gone, and we may not even be able to finish this sentence without getting distracted by the urge to go and buy som…

    If you have a moment you can read why Ana loves South Africa so much on Wines of South Africa’s blog. However, if you are short on time you can see all the wines featured on our website here. We heartily recommend the Lothian Pinot Noir, which has just picked up a score of 90pts from Wine Spectator for its maiden vintage.

    Crazy-haired Berty Einstein was just as sharp as a splinter. But it isn’t just the chopping of wood that the people love, they also like to plane it, sand it, chisel it and most importantly make wine in it. But not in Champagne surely? Well yes actually, let’s go back to school, but don’t worry it isn’t a woodwork class. To make Champagne, you firstly make a dry white wine. This is then popped into bottles with some yeast and some sugar, which ferments. The by-product of this fermentation, carbon dioxide, is absorbed into the wine, which turns into bubbles when you open it. Since the 1950s the initial dry wine has mainly been made in stainless steel. However, in the days before stainless steel it was the norm to make them in wood imparting a gentle oaky note. And that is what Billecart-Salmon have done; they’ve gone old-school for their “Sous Bois”, giving it an exquisite texture with notes of toffee and grilled brioche. Just don’t call it SuBo, Billecart-Salmon don’t appreciate the comparison with Scotland’s premier mezzo-soprano and they’ll get angry and come after you with a hacksaw. Trust us, we found out the hard way, which is why we now enjoy this woody Champagne while tottering around on our wooden leg. There are another couple of amazing Billecart-Salmon wines on our website and even more in our shops.

    That’s all from us, but before we go we just wanted to let you know that there’s a new post about Portuguese wines on Blogbins, which is best enjoyed with a glass or two of our new favourite fine wine; Niepoort Doda. Oh, and as it’s National Sarcastic Awareness Month (who knew?), we’ll leave you with one of our favourite quotes from an old master…

  • BENEATH PERILOUS WATERS LIE PIECES OF EIGHT

    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.

  • PORTUGAL, BURGUNDY, BLOGS AND CLIFF RICHARD

    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

  • MAY WE HAVE A WORD?

    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."

    Baudelaire

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

    Withnail

    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.

  • WINES AND WORDS

    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.

  • ELEPHANTS, MEERKATS, WORMS AND OWLS

    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.

  • BEST OF BRITISH

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

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

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

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

    Local Beers

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

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

  • ITS WINE BUSINESS TIME

    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.

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