Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Patchy Hangover

No sooner has the United States invented 'Bytox' Hangover Prevention Patch launched in the UK than it is being banned by the Medicines and Healthcare Agency, who consider it to be an unlicensed medicine - as it claims to prevent hangovers. One might have hoped that prevention was better than cure and if you are not ill when you take it, or it is to be hoped, afterwards, is it a medicine at all? The Hangover Patch replaces vitamins and folic acid (through a patch - like a nicotine patch - on the arm) which are usually lost during the diuretic process, which is a consequence of drinking. This system is superior to a pill because it allows for continuous release over a long period. It is applied 45 minutes before consuming alcohol - so it could be fixed at about the same time as you are putting on your glad rags to go out - and then it is recommended that it should be left in place for up to 8 hours afterwards. (On this basis there will be some who might have to consider whether they wear it permanently - perhaps on the forehead would be best). Even so, the Bytox website is emphatic that it "will not prevent you getting drunk and definitely won't prevent embarrassing and/or regrettable behaviour." Now that would have been a real medicine.

Motorised bar stool

Perhaps only in America - it's taken a couple of years to reach us but we could not pass by a lovely story of a man drunk in charge of a motorised bar stool. What might have been the ultimate petrol head's machine or the ultimate drinker's seat turns out to have been neither, because it was a bar stool welded on to a ride-on lawn mower engine and chassis - it gives the impression of being neither stable nor comfortable. Pity because it surely would, if better constructed, be the supreme present for the man who has everything. It's getting near Christmas so further details by following this link:

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Tiny cost in bulk

It has been revealed that that of the world's 10 largest importers of bulk wines one country pays the least. The popular perception is that this position is likely be taken by the UK but no, it is in fact France! The French pay an average of Є 0.34/Litre whilst the United Kingdom pays getting on for three times as much at Є 0.92/Litre. What this is more likely to reflect is the esteem of imported wine in France, a country that is certainly self sufficient in its own production! The UK by contrast is beginning to bottle 'better' wine as the green agenda means that bottling nearer to the consumer is produces lower emissions and import costs are lower. A double benefit which it would be foolish to resist...

Monday, 24 September 2012

Lady Bracknell would doubtless disapprove

There is a recent trend for wine packed in what is generally termed 'bag in box' to be disguised as something desirable - it says something about the contents that the packaging has to become so twee. At least two producers have launched new lines disguising the bag, well really the box, as a handbag. Now this is referred to as 'bag in bag' but as its life is likely to be spent in the kitchen cupboard or fridge it is really only on the supermarket shelf that the presentation will be important. No lady is likely to be swinging it - or swigging it - down the street. The wheel has come full circle since the days when a handbag such as Lady Bracknell's might have discretely concealed a small bottle of brandy. Rather think we remain with Lady Bracknell on this one.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Duty fix

It has been pointed out by Steve Parfett of the wholesaler of the same name that instead of minimum pricing it would be much more logical to standardise duty and bring it into line with the spirit system. Here alcoholic strength is multiplied by volume to work out the duty payable. Other alcoholic duty rates are based on bands and styles. This change would standardise the rate per unit of alcohol. Currently cider and perry pay easily the lowest rates of duty whilst wine at the top of the wine duty rate band (5.5%-15%) pays less per unit than the lower alcohol wines at the bottom. If minimum pricing is the aim then the duty rates should be sorted out first. This would also have the added advantage of not being able to be considered (so far at least!) an EU restraint of trade and avoid the legal shenanigans that would be involved. We live in hope..

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Marriage Guidance

We should obviously promote marriage if we want wine drinking to flourish. An American Cincinnati university sociology study has shown that whilst men consume a little less alcohol when married this is more than made up for by the extra that women consume when married. Watch out for 'Relate' sponsored by WineDrop!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Probably the best lager description in the world..

We certainly cannot improve on "Mass-produced lagers taste like corporate cardboard and have the aroma of market research rather than hops". Frazer Thompson, Chapel Down’s CEO - after winning gold for his own lager!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Cows, Wine and moos

The Independent has revealed that some French wine farmers have been feeding their cattle wine! We are told that it gives the meat a unique texture and an improved taste such that the farmers are hopeful that Michelin starred restaurants will take it. Apparently the system has also been practised in Canada. A litre and a half of wine for a cow is supposedly equivalent to a human's 2-3 glasses and according to French scientists wine consumption may also increase a cow's sense of wellbeing, though quite how they detect this they do not reveal. To us this sounds like anthropomorphism - or perhaps the cows moo in a particular way..

The real thing

We are indebted to French research (L'Institut National de Consommation, since you ask) which has established that Coca Cola is alcoholic! There is only 10mg of alcohol in every litre but alcohol there is. In these quantities you'd probably die of sugar poisoning long before any effect from the alcohol, but it seems to have upset the world's leading 'soft' drink that not all Colas were found to be alcoholic. Surely it can't be a spiked drink?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Fun and games continued

It seems that the initial fears of delivering in Postcodes affected by Olympic events are not as serious as feared and that good arrangements to mitigate delays are in place. We have a very positive communication from Business Post who undertake most of our London deliveries. They say that although delivery times will not be guaranteed and are likely to be earlier or later than usual they anticipate that with a combination of early starts and using smaller vehicles they should be able to cope with the vast majority of the usual delivery schedule. We'll cheer to that!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The etiquette of labelling

Was how the English version of a French email that landed in the WineDrop inbox was headed. A lovely pun of course because étiquette is French for a label. (It is intriguing to note that that the origin of the French word is from the English "a ticket". The English then borrowed the French to mean correct manners.) The article actually concerns the EU requirement, which reverses an earlier decision, that from1st August 2012 wine made from organically grown grapes can, indeed must, be called organic wine and display the EU logo. As the wines are still permitted to contain significant levels of sulphites this seems an odd decision. But that must indeed be the etiquette of labelling.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The language of wine that cheers

We learn from Vinexpo (the Bordeaux wine exhibition) of the league table for wine consumption. This is by country and is the country's total consumption of so called 'light wine' - that means fortified wines and sparkling wines are excluded. The UK comes in half way down the top ten at number five. First is the USA, but with five times the UK population that is not a great surprise, more so is that China, with four times the population of the US comes in only at number six. Europe takes the other three top places with Italy at number two, France number three and Germany at number four, whilst Spain (with admittedly only about half the population of Germany) is beaten into eighth place by its Spanish speaking ex with about the same population, Argentina. Russia, with a population about half the size of the US comes in at number nine, while plucky Romania with a population about a third of the size of the UK comes in at number 10. Fascinating that the UK is the highest placed of the 'non-wine-producing' countries. Looked at another way, the biggest markets by language are English speaking...

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Fun and Games

The Olympic games take place between 27th July and 12 August and the Paralympics between 29th August and 9th September and - forewarned is forearmed - it seems that disruption to delivery services is likely if the delivery address is near a venue where competitions will take place. We imagine that most affected customers will be well aware of this but those of you sending presents and bearing gifts should be conscious that that difficulties may be significant on or around these dates in both London and Weymouth. London details are sketched out on the transport for London website at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/london2012/21677.aspx

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Two Cheers from France

The French wine trade has particularly high hopes of their newly elected President, François Hollande, because he actually drinks - whereas his illustrious predecessor was famously teetotal. They hope he revisits the Loi Evin (France's alcohol advertising law) and will be more supportive of wine exports. At WineDrop towers we fear he may be too locked in to negotiations with Angela "Europe can only be built together" Merkel to notice...

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Time to be hard on soft drinks - continued

Our prices are gradually reflecting the duty escalator increase imposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the end of March. The alcohol trade has to be realistic and accept that it is a relatively easy target and taxes are better levied on discretionary purchases. But two discretionary purchases that still remain completely untouched by anything more than VAT are confectionary and soft drinks. These are both heavily implicated in poor health outcomes and rising rates of obesity. It has been done elsewhere in the EU so isn't it time they shared some of the UK pain?

Monday, 19 March 2012

Carmenère to help red faces in Bordeaux

Apparently Château Brane Cantenac in Margaux has just reintroduced Carmenère to its 2011 vintage blend after having been encouraged by the derogatory comments of a Chilean stagiare a few years ago, who was amazed it was no longer used in what is, after all, its homeland! Reports are that it certainly needs all the warmth it can get and in this respect global warming has actually been of assistance. Nonetheless it is still the last variety to ripen in the vineyard but by vinifying just a small quantity the consensus of the winemakers is that, as well as the oft mentioned intensity of colour, it does give a little added dimension to the palate. It will be interesting to see if others follow..

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Quelquechose qui cloche

According to very counter-intuitive research done at Brook University in Canada, English Speakers are more likely to buy wine with difficult to pronounce names. So all the focus group money spent on finding English names for wines that might prove a challenge to pronounce would appear to have been in vain. And yet, and yet, apparently the research also found that wines with difficult to pronounce names were rated higher in blind tastings! Of course if they really were blind then you shouldn't know the names. And if they were rated higher after their names were revealed then they must have been found to be better wines - and the name was entirely incidental. The difficult to pronounce names would seem to have been mixed in with the difficult to understand logic!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Australian Offer

Australia Day has passed but word reaches us that whilst Australia is still basking in the strength of its currency Moet & Chandon Champagne is selling for less than, amongst others, the Yarra Valley-produced Domaine Chandon! Trouble is if you are in the UK it's not worth a special journey - yet!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Raising yeast

New Zealand scientists at the University of Auckland have now discovered that wild yeasts differ according to region. This is interesting because there are some winemakers who swear by cultured yeast and others who prefer a so called 'wild ferment'. On a recent visit to the Douro one Port maker was adamant that he only ever made use of wild yeasts whereas he was unsurprised that another house visited earlier (at the time owned by a large brewing group) only ever used cultured yeast! Because of course, a cultured yeast to a brewery is vital - it offers the possibility of consistency of style with every brew, which are often produced on a daily basis. With wine, produced just once a year, a certain variation in vintage is sometimes considered a good selling point so may actually be advantageous. What is more it now seems certain that wild yeast would play a part in this variation. It will also be a constituent of the mix in the 'terroir' of the wine - the individual vineyard character and regional identity. So far only New Zealand has investigated yeast in this way, but it seems reasonable to suppose that New Zealand is not unique. So this is just another small stitch in the large tapestry of wine analysis....