Issue 15: free Alsace wines



It’s another Wine Merchant giveaway. Fifty independents can claim six free bottles of beautiful Alsace wines in the July edition of the magazine.

Yes, we know you already love Alsace; its purity, its clarity, its suitability for food matching. But how often do you get to try some unexplored Alsatian wines for free?

All the information you need is in the magazine, which you can access online or which you’ll be receiving in the post very soon, if you’re a subscriber.

The magazine is packed with all the latest news and views from the independent wine trade. A trade which encompasses 700 shops, is worth about £420 million, and is run by some of the friendliest and hardest-working people on the planet. Why would people buy their wine anywhere else?

Wine’s weird. Deal with it

Instead of listening to the bores who claim to be intimidated by wine-speak, we should celebrate the unique effect that wine has on us, and have fun expressing it. By Graham Holter


PEOPLE FIND WINE descriptions “confusing” and “unhelpful”. We’re told the words we use “don’t help them understand what the wine tastes like”.

This is, of course, familiar ground. The “pomposity” of the wine trade has been ridiculed for decades. We’re portrayed as elitist and insular, suspicious of outsiders, all too ready to sneer and snigger at those who don’t speak or understand our private language.

Waiting for Bordeaux: Beckett gathers his thoughts after a particularly fine claret
Waiting for Bordeaux: Beckett gathers his thoughts after a particularly fine claret

We should certainly take note if the products and services we sell are regarded as intimidating by potential customers. But does that automatically mean apologising for the words that we use? Have any of the opponents of “flowery, over-the-top” wine descriptions (many of them wine journalists) ever come up with a more useful or comprehensible lexicon?

Laithwaites is the latest to indulge in a spot of self-flagellation. It asked a group of 1,000 “reasonably well-informed” volunteers to point out the least helpful wine terms from a list. The most useless of all was deemed to be “firm skeleton” – a phrase we can safely assume that few, if any, of them had previously encountered.

Yet simple phrases like “wet stone”, “leathery” and “chunky” were also rejected by large numbers (but by no means the majority) of those questioned. We’re entitled to ask why these words were apparently beyond the grasp of “reasonably well-informed” people.

Continue reading “Wine’s weird. Deal with it”