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Christmas Bottle Offers

November 22nd, 2017

Every year we offer a range of wines that we discount all the way into Christmas and the New Year.


We offer a range of wines under our MultiBuy Scheme.

Buy any 2 and you get 10% OFF
and any mix of 6 gets your 15% OFF
and if you buy and mix of 12 or more you get 20% OFF.

We have broken them down into general wines, and then more premium wines. You can mix them up, so you can buy 11 of the cheaper wines and then throw in a bottle of Champagne and still get 20% OFF.

We then have the every popular 6 for €60 mix where you can mix any 6 of the wines in the list and get 6 for €60. Simple !!

Click on each of the wines to get more detail and you can also buy online.

The Wines in the list are :

From Australia
30 Mile Sauvignon Blanc from €11.19

From France
Les Sablons Ventoux Rouge from €11.99

From Italy
Mirabello Pinot Grigio from €9.59
Tenuta St Anna Prosecco Frizzante from €11.99
Collefrisio Morrecine Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from €11.99

From Portugal
Corgo de Regua Red from €11.99

From Spain
El Renegado Organic Blanco from €10.39
Marques de Alfamen Reserva Red from €11.99
Carlos Serres Rioja Crianza from €11.19
Tempore Terrae Finca Organic Grenache from €13.59

In the more premium wines, we have

From France
Sébastien Vaillant Valençay from €15.99
Terres de Truffes Ventoux from €15.99
Viranel V from €20
Chemilly Chablis 1er Cru from €25.60
Chateau Lalande St Julien from €32
Duval Leroy NV from €38.40

From Italy
Alpha Zeta Amarone from €28

from Spain
Castelo de Medina Verdejo from €11.99
Sommos Taoz Reserva from €13.59

and in the 6 for €60 mix we have wines from Chile, France, Spain and Italy

Isla Grande Chardonnay
Moulin de Gassac Classic Blanc
Moulin de Gassac Classic Rouge
Clement Bosquet Sauvignon Blanc
Glarima Red Merlot-Temp-Cab Sab
Bella Modella Pinot Grigio
Marques de Alfamen Red
CS Rioja

We also have a range of Mix Cases at various prices points that will take all the work out of it for you.

Life is much too short to drink bad wine ( especially at Christmas )

Postcards from the Edge

February 14th, 2012

and by the edge, I mean the Cliff Edge, and by the Cliff, I mean the Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co. Waterford.

I have three small children and while this brings great joy to my life, it also takes it over on many an occasion. My youngest was born last September and she was 10 weeks early so we spent 52 stressful days in hospital with her. During this emotional haze, myself and my wife promised each other when we get through this, we would go away to the Cliff House Hotel and have the famous tasting menu. This is what makes us happy and if Sarah’s great journey wasn’t a good enough reason, then nothing would be. Christmas presents were made easy this year.

Red Nose Wine supplies a very famous wine into the Cliff House Hotel, Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc, and it has pride of place on the famous tasting menu.

I won’t bore you with stories of the infinty pool, the outdoor jacuzzi, the sauna or the sound of the sea and the upgraded room and the complimentary champagne on arrival, but let’s just say it took about five minutes to relax. I was at the Ryder Cup in the K Club and was blown away with the standards set there for organization but also seamless way everything just worked. The Cliff House is like that. Everything just works…

I should say that the aforementioned baby was with us. The others were farmed out to doting grandparents but we weren’t quite ready to take our eye off of her.

This is a run through of one of the most amazing food experiences that I have ever had. I am not qualified to say exactly how good a chef Martijn Kajuiter is, but as a lover of food, this was an incredible assault on the senses. The flavour, textures and imagination with the wide array of dishes was mesmirising. I remember working as a waiter in a Michelin starred resteraunt on the French Riviera many years ago, and my biggest panic was always learning the contents of the Amuse Bouche (in French and English ) every night. This is the little tingler for the taste buds that you get ‘before’ the starter. The translation is “mouth amuser”. Here is what we got …


The bread including Smoked Glenilen Butter, Irish Walnuts and Seasalt.

The bread including Smoked Glenilen Butter, Irish Walnuts and Seasalt.

This was just an assault on the senses - scallops, sea spinach, pork, irish caviar, quail Egg, veal, poke Gras and much more

This was just an assault on the senses - scallops, sea spinach, pork, irish caviar, quail Egg, veal, foie Gras and much more

The wine to match this dish was Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc and it was a wonderful accompaniment to the many different dishes in front of us. A tip of the hat to Anke, the excellent sommelier in the Cliff House.

Fish by the Sea ... Helvick Cod with brown shrimps, Marsh Saphire and Butter Jus

Fish by the Sea ... Helvick Cod with brown shrimps, Marsh Saphire and Butter Jus

to clean the palate ...

to clean the palate ...

Herbs from the garden make a great sauce ....

Herbs from the garden make a great sauce ....

... and Skeaghanore Duck with rhubarb, black olive, Thyme and white chocolate suits the sauce perfectly

... and Skeaghanore Duck with rhubarb, black olive, Thyme and white chocolate suits it perfectly

and so the deserts began to arrive ...

and so the deserts began to arrive ...



and then it was over ...

and then it was over ...

The wine matching menu was very well done and added to the whole experience. The English Pinot Gris was a real treat with the Cod. I even got a glass of Sake with the salmon dish ( I never took a picture of that dish )

The Wines

The Wines

While we savored this truly wonderful meal, our baby Sarah had it to look forward to the next morning. The joys of breastfeeding. I will say that it did not affect her appetite but it did do strange things to the the nappies. My wife wasn’t drinking so at least Sarah didn’t have to worry about those side effects.

To close I will show the view from the room and possibly the best room in the hotel… I cannot recommend this enough – its a true touch of magic on our doorsteps and very well worth the trip, whether you are weather beaten parents in need of a night away, or lovers of all things food.

The view from the room

The view from the room

The best room in the house ?

The best room in the house ?

Wine of the Week – New Zealand and Australia

October 27th, 2011

We have 2 new wines of the week. A fantastic alternative to Pinto Grigio from New Zealand called Woollaston that is down from €19.49 to €15.99. “It has sweet pear and apple notes and is weighty and rich and full of flavour with excellent length. It is off dry and a little honeyed, the acidity balances the concentrated fruit and adds a zesty flourish”.

The Red also comes from the Southern Hemisphere, Woodstock from the McLaren Vale region of Australia. Normally €15.99, it is reduced down to €12.99 for the week. This wine is a “sublime red blend loaded with dark chocolate & berry aromas followed by savoury tannins on the palate. A burst of juicy grape flavours showing dark berries, black currants and a touch of spice”.


Article – Mas de L’Ecriture and the fool who imports it

November 5th, 2010

Optimism & The Grapes of Sloth

This article starts with the sole purpose of being optimistic in a time that it is difficult to be optimistic in. I gave up watching the news a long time ago. It really served no purpose to be exposed to negativity all of the time. This article is inspired by a virtual conversation I had with a wine blogger this morning. To clarify, the blogger does exist in real life as well, and goes by the name of The Grapes of Sloth. The virtual aspect of it came via the magic of Twitter and that crazy old thing called cyber space.

I am sending out samples to journalists at the moment about the two new vineyards I have brought in from the Languedoc. These are what are referred to as the next icon wines. By this I mean, wines that are relatively unknown within the public arena, but are garnishing phenomenal reviews worldwide from critics. Another way to see them is wines that are perceived as expensive and hard to sell.

8 – 12 Euro Wines

This was the point my esteemed blogger friend made. Is this the time to bring in these kinds of wines? This is where the optimism I spoke of in the first paragraph is required. I know that most of the wine I sell will be between 8 and 12 Euros. I accept and understand that, but people will not experience these unique wines if somebody doesn’t take a risk to import and sell them.

I enjoy the challenge of finding the cheaper wines of quality and am delighted every time a customer comes back and raves about a Pinot Grigio that I sold them for 8 Euros. The fact that I am exceeding their expectations and the wine is cheaper and better than the ones they have being buying is very rewarding. It is the bread and butter of what I try to do. When I get these wines into restaurants and hotels, I am equally delighted. Cheap wine does not need to be bad quality.

Someone has to be the Fool

I could not sell the everyday wine if it did not allow me to find, taste and sell the special wines. Though there is only a small amount of people who end up buying them, I love being the fool who imports them. Some people will never get to taste and appreciate them, but they might. These wines are the very definition of a ‘hand sell’. You must sell the story and the winemaker as well as the wine. Why is it costing 20 Euros and why is it such good value at that price. The wines must not only live up to the “story”, they must exceed it.

A man called Pascal

Pascal Fulla owns a vineyard called Mas de L’Ecriture in a region known as the Terrasses du Larzac in the Languedoc. He sold up his share in a small airline and transferred his legal perfectionism from the rule of law, to that of nature. He is known as someone who believes in detail and the meticulous attention he gives to his wines is testament to this. Each individual plot is harvested, vinified and aged separately. Like all the great wines, the yield is ridiculously low. These are among the principle reasons wines like this cannot be sold for under 10 Euros.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine and Pacal Fulla of Mas de L'Ecriture

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine and Pacal Fulla of Mas de L'Ecriture

What does Gordon sell?

These wines are currently more or less unknown in Ireland, but if you bought a lottery ticket in Donnybrook recently and fancy a nice lunch, apparently Heston Blumenthal has a nice Three Michelin starred restaurant in the UK. He also sells these wines as does the other master of Michelin, Gordon Ramsey. The leading worldwide critics such as Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker have heaped praise on this estate.

The new Claret?

I am not suggesting that you abandon your budget and your sense and rush to Red Nose Wine to buy these wines. They will not interest most of you. However, for those of you who do occasionally treat yourself to a good bottle of Bordeaux, or a fancy Australian Shiraz. I am suggesting that you save yourself some money, and try these wines.

A good street corner in Bordeaux

A good street corner in Bordeaux

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

People of a certain vintage often call into me and tell me of the times when good Bordeaux was affordable. The wines that now make their way to China for over one thousand Euros a bottle, used to be affordable for a special Sunday dinner. It is my belief that these kinds of wines are now the modern day equivalent. In case you were wondering, we are talking about 20 Euros, not 50 for these wines.

Last chance for Tickets

I have been talking about the upcoming Tipperary Food Producers Christmas Extravaganza for the last few articles and tickets have been selling very well. I still have more, so don’t leave it too late to get yours. I know that Pat Whelan has a great piece written about it this week so rather than try and compete with the published author, I would urge you to go to Pats blog and read his piece. I am only mildly jealous about the book Pat.

Domaine des Anges Dinner

If that’s not enough, Red Nose Wine is delighted to announce that Ciaran Rooney of Irish vineyard Domaine des Anges in Provence is visiting us on November 24th. Rather than do a formal tasting, we are going to have a wine dinner in Befanis restaurant. It promises to be a great night with super food being matched to beautiful organic wines. There has already been huge interest so I would suggest you contact Red Nose Wine or Befanis to reserve your seat.

Domaines de Anges Wine Dinner

Domaines de Anges Wine Dinner

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“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Article – The Groucho Marx of Wine

October 8th, 2010

The poster of Franz Haas we all received as we left

The poster of Franz Haas we all received as we left

Another Day, Another Lunch

That tasting I mentioned last week in Ballymaloe was fantastic and with the risk of Silvia Allegrini thinking that I am stalking her, I think I’ll wait a while before the next wine dinner. Two Allegrini dinners within a week and in two different countries is a lot. As promised I present a new tale from my Italian odyssey and. One of the longer bus journeys of the trip took us up towards Austria and the Alps. It was to a meet a man named Franz Haas in a place called Montagna, which lies half way between Verona and Innsbruck.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine visits Franz Haas in Alto Adige

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine visits Franz Haas in Alto Adige

James Bond Elevator into the mountains

An impressive winery greets us, built into the side of the mountain. It looks tiny from the dangerous mountain road where it sits. However, the modest façade hides a labyrinth of cellars and tanks and an elevator that brings you high into the mountain and a dining room and tasting room that hangs over the edge of the world. Am I being a touch dramatic? Perhaps, but the wines were of a quality that really surprised me and made me wonder why I had chosen to ignore the Alto Adige region for so long.

Have you ever had Pinot Grigio? – Real Pinot Grigio

One of my best selling wines is a cheap and cheerful Pinot Grigio from Italy. It only costs 8.50 Euros and is all apples and pears and easy to drink. It is well made but not overly exciting but I understand why it is so popular. When my Pinot Grigio fans are in the shop I am going to ask them to taste Franz Haas’s version of Pinot Grigio. We will have it open from this weekend and on special. This is real Pinot Grigio just as Chablis and White Burgundy are real Chardonnays. By real, I mean the grapes are grown in a place where they belong and the full luscious fruit that Pinot Grigio is known for is fully expressed.

By all means, people can go back to their old style Pinot Grigio, but I would love them to at least know what it is supposed to taste like. Mr. Haas’s Pinot is straw yellow in colour with perfumes of flowers and rich almonds as the wine develops. On the palate it is ripe and full-bodied with a lifted acidity from the high vineyards, and has a lovely depth from the lees ageing. I will be running a special price on this to celebrate its arrival into the shop. Please call in to taste it.

Franz Haas treats us to a great dinner

Franz Haas treats us to a great dinner

So, other than his Pinot Grigio, what else is so special about Mr. Haas and his mountain wines? Well firstly, he has what we like to call pedigree or heritage. His family, and in particular each firstborn son (called Franz) has been doing this since 1880. The current Franz is the 7th in the long line.

The view from this vineyard is possibly the most beautiful I have ever seen, and I have been lucky enough to see lots of them. The man himself is quite a character and wears a Groucho Marx like moustache on this bald head. His mannerisms and movements are more like Harpo as he curtsied and bowed. He pretended not to speak very good English and came in and out of the visit as he was very busy.

The view from Franz Haas vines

The view from Franz Haas vines

We were gate crashing the harvest it must be said, so it would not have come as a surprise if we given the road. Instead we were treated like royalty and the panoramic vineyard tour was followed by a cellar visit and a chance to taste some freshly picked Sauvignon Blanc must from a fermenting barrel. Basically, it is like very concentrated sparkling grapefruit juice. A taste is enough, as it is very harsh on the stomach. A refreshing glass of Pinot Grigio brought us back to life. God Bless the bus driver. I normally spit my way around vineyards, but I could enjoy it a little bit more on this trip.

The cellar was followed by a delicious dinner in the aforementioned dining room. To all of my Tipperary Food Producer friends, can I suggest a new product? We had fennel bread with the lunch and it was just heaven. It may have something to do with a local saying, “Pane e vino fanno un bel bambino” which means “bread and wine make a beautiful baby”. Both are seen as essential nourishment. I am not recommending wine for a baby by the way. This magic bread was followed by the obligatory Risotto of course and a range of other local delicacies.

More Risotto ....

More Risotto ....

The Alto Adige region is strong with German roots but also with Venetian history and this offers a very different take on both styles. The Rhaetian Alps and the Dolomites wall this region in, and this is evident by the photo I took from the vineyard. Even if you don’t like wine, it is a beautiful place to visit. The wines of Mr. Haas are typical of the area and Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Nero (or Noir), Traminer join local varieties such as Lagrein, a delicious red wine.

I always enjoy being surprised in the wine business and for everything I have learned about new wines and areas, there is so much more to learn. I know that most people will stick to their cheaper Pinot Grigio but all I can do is show you the difference, and ultimately it is up the consumer. Never was the old adage about the customer being always right truer than in wine.

Keep a date in your diary free. There is a Tipperary Food Producers Food Extravaganza in the Clonmel Park on November 10th with Bord Bia involvement. As well as the chefs on show,  Jane Boyce MW, once of only 4 Masters of Wine in Ireland will be giving a talk on food and wine pairing talk. She is not to be missed and will be worth the price of admission alone. She was on the trip to Italy and I tried to convince her to travel down for this important local event. On another note, another Tipperary Food Producer, Nuala Hickey has just won Gold at the Blas na hEireann Food Awards in Dingle. Well done to Nuala.

(There are much more photos available on Facebook and we will be posting video very soon )

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“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Oct 06 2010(

How tough is wine?

June 30th, 2010

The Tough Kid at School

We all knew the tough kids in school. If you were lucky enough to sit beside them in maths class you might have built up a rapport with them and by virtue of you doing their homework for them, you escaped the beatings, and they may have even given you unofficial protection as you wandered through the horrible world of adolescence. A recent incident involving a bottle of wine brought me to ask the following question – are some wines tougher than others?

Bouncy Bouncy

I had a bottle of wine in the sleeve of my laptop bag yesterday and as I arrived home to welcoming and jumping children, the bag slipped and the bottle slid from the pocket and fell to the cement ground. I waited for the smash, but the bottle bounced. I checked and double checked and all was well. Joy to the world. Considering the bottle was an expensive one - I was treating myself to after a bad week, I was most pleased, and relieved. In fact, to celebrate the survival of the bottle, I did the only decent thing that I could, I opened it. When I compared this bottle to the case of cheap Pinot Grigio that I dropped on the way to a restaurant, it is truly remarkable. The protective case was well made cardboard, but the bottles were thin and the minute it fell about six inches from the trolley, I could hear the smash. Three bottles met their maker, and as the apple and pear flavoured liquid drained down the nearby road, I knew they would cheer no more.

So, as many of us have dropped many wines I am sure, how many have you saved, and are some wines tougher than others? Are they supposed to survive and fulfill their noble destiny, i.e. be drank?

To be a little bit topical, one could compare the Tipperary South TD Mattie McGrath’sstand against the government as a bouncing of the bottle. Will it smash, or will he fulfill his destiny. As disenchanted as I am with the whole political scene, the ONLY sitting or wannabe TD that knocked on my door ( and I live fairly central ), was Mattie. He had a magic bus that swept in and out of South Tipperary and attacked the masses. They were like friendly dementors.

We’ll see how Mattie’s methaphorical bottle of wine surives. My feeling is he will have the last laugh at the next election.
Like I said, at least he called to the door and took my abuse. Back in 2007, at the tail end of an MBA and full of knowledge about the upcoming crash ( academia saw it a mile off ), I had a LOT to say.

Article – Italy, you really have a lot of wine

May 27th, 2010

Now and again the wine world and the political world collide, and politics being politics and collisions inevitable, this can mean one can find oneself treated to a wonderful all expenses paid event. One such collision took place in Cork last week, at the very comfortable Clarion Hotel. The Italian Trade Commission are trying to increase awareness of Italian Wine in Ireland, and with the help of Jean Smullen, a well known organiser of marquee wine trade events, they organised a tutored tasting. What is a tutored tasting as opposed to a regular tasting I hear you ask? A fine question, that someone somewhere surely has asked.

A Tasting vs A Tutored Tasting

A regular tasting involves tables full of wine, where everyone supposedly follows a very regimental anticlockwise routine, where we walk around a large hall talking to the importer or the winemakers, while supping and spitting. The true professionals make two trips, the first taking in the whites and the second the reds. I have not always been the true professional in this regard, and I would not suggest tasting a delicate Soave after a big Brunello di Montalcino. Anyway, this tasting was not of that type, for we sat at tables and had a neat array of tasting glasses in front of us. It was like being back at school. The glasses sat upon a mat and were numbered 1 to 6. There was a swarm of bottles to be seen but alas, our glasses were empty. Before the tasting, came the tutoring.

Let The Powerpoint Begin

There was a big screen set up and Helen Coburn, a well know authority on Italian wine, set about a very in-depth and fast as lightening PowerPoint assessment of the white wines of Italy. The range of grapes and regions and rules that are obeyed and rules that are ignored put instant validity to the need for a regional expert such as Helen. When many people think of Italian wines, they think Tuscany or Sicily or maybe the ever popular Pinot Grigio. That’s a fair enough assessment of what is popular in Italian wine, but like many things in life, there is always so much more. We flew through grapes such as Pinot Bianco, Cortese, Garganega, Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Greco di Tufo, Vermentino, Inzolia and Prosecco with speed and precision. For those planning a wine holiday, the regions included Trentino / Alto Adige, Piedmonte, Veneto, Lombardy, Marche, Umbria, Lazio, Tuscany, Campania, Sardinia and Sicily. So who thought there was only Pinot Grigio in Italy?

Italian Wine Map

Italian Wine Map

There are many other white wine varieties grown in Italy that were mentioned but the varieties above are what we eventually tasted. I have a mass of notes on each wine, and I was happy to see a number of Red Nose Wine selections amongst the mix. We have been working very hard this last year to improve our Italian selection. Our €8.50 Pinot Grigio’s big sales are testament to the fact that the public like what we are doing. Rather than bore you with individual tasting notes on all wines tasted (there are many others who specialise in this), I will list of some of the words scribbled down in the frenzied tasteathon. Creamy, High alcohol, medium acidity, nervy, grassy, yeasty, fresh, good price point, lemon tones, crisp, dry, not enough fruit to the fore, fills the mouth. These of course were for the whites. All wines were spat out.

The Matching of the Food & Wine

After the whites were tasted and rated, we were then invited to partake in a matching of food to wines with Lorenzo Loda, the Italian sommelier from Thorntons Restaurant in Dublin. Little tasting plates were given out, consisting of olive oil, basil, authentic Parmesan cheese, salami and some almond cake. We then were given some Moscato, Gewurztraminer, Brunello de Montalcino and Barbera d’Asti wine. The aromatic Gewurztraminer swamped the olive oil, but was delicious with the basil. The Salami could not stand up to the rich Brunello, but was divine with the Barbera, as was the Cheese. The expensive rich Brunello really needs something like meat to counterbalance it. The Moscato and the cake were a match made in Italian heaven. Some classic Italian Wine – Food pairings include Soave & Risotto; Amarone & Rabbit ; Chianti and Wild Boar ; Verdicchio and Sea Bass to name a few.

Lunch & Parisian Tiramsu

Italian Food

Italian Food

At this point, the little touches of food only made me realise that I was starving, and there was a very Italian lunch laid on, with some classic dishes. I went for two helpings of Lasagne and some Tiramisu. When I lived in Paris, there was a local Italian restaurant that had homemade Tiramisu ( in rue Claude Bernard ) and a guarantee that if it was not the best you ever tasted, you didn’t pay for it. All I can say is that I always paid for it, and will on my next visit. The Cork version was nice, but I can still taste that Paris one. Mind you, in Clonmel we are spoiled for Tiramisu. Both Catalapa and Befanis have delicious versions.

The famous @Grapes_of_Sloth aka Paul Kiernan

The famous @Grapes_of_Sloth aka Paul Kiernan

The Mighty Reds of Italy ( as opposed to Manchester )

Anyway, full up and weary, I still had to face the biggest challenge of the day. The rich reds which made Italy famous. It was obvious that the Italian Trade Commission were footing the bill because they really opened up some special bottles. Pinot Nero, Lagrein, Teroldego, Nebbiolo, Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, Sangiovese, Brunello di Montalcino ( Sangiovese clone), Montepulciano, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Allianico, Negroamaro, Primitive Salento, Nero d’Avola and even that old favourite Cabernet Sauvignon were all on show. The superstar regions like Barolo, Barberesco, Chianti Classico and Brunello stood side by side with the Lagrein and Lunelli wines of Trentino / Alto Aldige. The feast finally came to an end and I came out of the tasting a lot more knowledgeable than when I went in. I think that is one of the things that I really like about wine. While you might hold some assumption of knowledge on a particular area or variety, but there is still so much more to learn. Humility and the lack of assumption are two traits that I have found invaluable as I search for new wines. For anyone who wants to try these different Italian varieties ( or the traditional classics ), we have a very good range in stock, at all price points. You are more than welcome to visit and taste. The Italians have a wonderful saying, and Fellini made a film based on the saying, “La Dolce Vita”. In these trying times, we all need a little of the sweet life.

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“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist May 27 2010

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist May 27 2010

Article – Confirmations & Communions

March 6th, 2010

The churches are getting ready and the new clothes are being bought in households up and down the country. The boys and girls of Ireland are preparing for their first holy communion and their confirmation. Mammy and Daddy are weighing up the options of a bouncy castle and a house party or maybe they will fill up the local pub. The pub is definitely my memory. There are pictures of my grandfather and myself having a drink in Carey’s Lounge circa 1981 – I was on the Lilt in case you are wondering. Bars of chocolate from Ma Welch’s shop and a 50pence piece were the presents of choice, if you were lucky. I am not sure how that would go down now. The level of expectancy may have grown with the Celtic Tiger. We have all seen the shows highlighting the fake tan and the horse drawn carriages for the princess and the huge bouncy castles that literally squeeze into the back lawn. I still like Dairy Milk and now and again, I have been known to nostalgically sip on a Lilt. I think though, you will see a little bit of restraint crawling back into society and the humble ham sandwich might make a comeback.

Whatever about the castles, I know that the increase in the popularity for wine will not fall back into the history books. We have a taste for the good stuff now and a person’s palate has a memory and there is no turning back now. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. With this in mind, my topic for this week is wines for a large family gathering where you don’t really want to break the bank. A communion, christening or confirmation would fall into this category. There are a few do’s and don’ts that I will attempt to cover and also suggest what wines might best suit this occasion. I am sure my colleague in the Tipperary Food Producers Network and in the Life section of the paper, Pat Whelan will have a plethora of food on offer for any of these auspicious occasions. Assuming the food in question is something along the lines of pork, chicken or beef, and with a curry, tomato or casserole style sauce, you can have some fun with the wine selection. God forbid we get some weather and attempt a barbeque. I am assuming fish is too hard to time successfully for a large group. Greater chefs than I will manage it in style, I have no doubt.

What you want to avoid for a mixed gathering of people, whose wine tastes you are not fully aware of, is being too adventurous. I personally do a serious background check on any potential friend or future family member and their wine tastes. I had to break off all communication with numerous friends and family over the years for careless comments made about certain wines and regions. But then I am very passionate when it comes to wine. One wine to potentially avoid is Chardonnay, and for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it can be a wine that people love or hate, and the cheaper versions of it are not quite as good as the cheaper versions of other varieties. If you are spoiling your guests with Chablis, Macon or Burgundy, then Chardonnay is an option, but if you want to keep it under €10 Euros a bottle, avoid the cheap stuff. Sauvignon Blanc is more neutral, but not always a great wine for a buffet style. It can be too dry for the general public. Another tip – never drink it the day after a wedding, as it will exploit your dodgy stomach at every opportunity. I would love to suggest my favourite white wine style, Riesling, but it is not for everyone. So, with a budget in mind and a large group to please, I would suggest Pinot Grigio, as it is easy drinking and is both dry and fruity at the same time. I will be doing a big promotion for the upcoming communions and confirmations with an easy drinking €8 euro bottle of Pinot Grigio one of the main attractions.

And then there were the Reds. I do not mean the mighty Reds of Old Trafford, or even the other mid table variety. I refer to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz or maybe even Malbec, but not Pinot Noir. Much like my beloved Riesling, this might also be a step too far. I did serve it at my wedding though, and got many compliments, but whether it can justify the price is a point of contention. I think you can be a little more adventurous with the Reds, and a blend is always a good option. Bordeaux Cabernet/Merlot can be too dry, but the spicy Shiraz/Grenache from the Languedoc offers a fruity vibrant red that should stand up nicely to most of the sauces. Unless you are having a barbeque, I think some of the bigger Australian Shiraz wines are too big. The softer Chilean Merlots are another option of course, but they might be more suited to sitting down to dinner, as opposed to the rough and tumble adventure that is balancing fighting children, trying to the sneak a peek at the match on TV, holding a plate and enjoying a wine. The joys of a family buffet dinner where seats are a luxury for the under forties and time passes so slowly. I will have a range of these reds as part of my promotion – coming soon to a local newspaper near you. Full details will also be online and deliveries nationwide. Now that the sales pitch is over, whatever occasion causes you to break bread with family and friends is a good one, and I hope yours passes without incident and that you enjoy a nice glass of wine to celebrate a very important part of a young person’s life. My grandfather passed away in 1986, but I still remember the Lilt in Mick Careys Lounge and being allowed to sit on a big stool beside my Grandad.

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For anyone who would like more information and can’t make it into the shop, please feel free to contact me at

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Mar 4 2010

Article – The Supermodel and the Parisian Toilet

February 12th, 2010

Last week the story left off after a very successful trip to the Milliseme Bio organic wine show in Montpellier. Good contacts were made and as I write there are samples ferrying their way across France for re-tasting. The trick is to leave them settle for a week or so after their journey. Wines don’t like to move and when they do, it is best to give them a little rest after the trip. If you ever open up a bottle of wine straight from the holiday suitcase, and it tasted a little tight, it will probably be the fault of the journey. I usually let any regulars who are in shop when I am tasting the wines take them away afterwards. My generosity knows no bounds. Giving away free samples after I have opened and tasted them. How will the multinationals compete? They are running for cover as they read this and the imaginary queues are leaving the supermarkets and forming at Red Nose Wine. I want to tell you two little stories this week, one which is wine related and the other is about this celebrity culture that we cannot escape. It is not about a Chelsea footballer.

After the show in Montpellier I was very hungry and I dined at Les Bains de Montpellier, a fantastic restaurant that is situated behind the opera in the famous Place de la Comedie. It was recommended by a number of wine makers, so I knew that the wine list would be good at the very least. It was, and when you have a list that is based around the food, you know you are in for a treat. I had fish the night before and was craving a steak, medium rare with a rich local wine to wash it down with. The matching of food and wine is often overplayed, and a good rule is to keep it simple. I had the sauce on the side, and let the wine flavour the meat, and vice versa. The wine was a top notch Cotes de Roussillon wine that cost €25 and was sublime. The proteins in the steak complimented the wine and I only went near the delicious sauce with the bread after the steak was demolished. I won’t go on about the value, even in the upmarket restaurants, that exists in France and the continent in general. As so many Irish restaurants are struggling at the moment, I don’t think it is fair to comment on the prices they are often forced to charge. But what I do lament is this constant instance to bring in inappropriate wines for the foods that they serve. They choose based on price and quality rarely comes into it. Even the expensive wines that they have don’t suit the menus. There are of course exceptions to this rule all over the country but what is the point in having a big strong Amarone in a fish restaurant? Why don’t more Oriental restaurants offer white wines like Riesling, where the sugar cools down and integrates with the spices? Why don’t we see more affordable Pinot Noir’s on the menus, as they go great with Chicken, which seems to have replaced potatoes as the staple of choice for the Irish people. I understand why people like Chilean Merlot and Italian Pinot Grigio, and I sell lots of them, but sit down with your wine supplier and by all means buy on price, but think of your customers and your food when making the choices. All that will happen is that the market will dictate a very narrow view on which wines are imported and we will go back to the old days. There are a few independent wine importers like myself who are bringing in something different. While the public are definitely open to the choice, the hotels and restaurants are proving harder to infiltrate. We need the public to demand something more from them, but they need to support them by eating out as well. Staying in is the new going out but we all need to get out of the house. The bad weather over the Christmas resulted in a lot of cabin fever in my house anyway.

After this great meal in Montpellier I managed to eat a very dodgy sandwich on the TGV the next day. If you add to this, that the seat was facing the wrong way for the 3 ½ hour journey to Paris, I was very queasy by the time we rolled into Gare de Lyon in central Paris. After checking into the hotel I went for a short stroll around my old haunting ground of the 5th and 6th arrondissements. I was passing Odeon and fell into a crowded entrance where there were loads of paparazzi and a string of limos and fancy taxis pulling up. I stopped to look and it turns out if was Paris Fashion week and there was a party on here for Jean Paul Gautier. It was funny to watch the people who stepped out of the cars looking for the paparazzi and the quick look and even quicker rejection by the paps, when they realised the mutton dressed up as lamb was not worth a photo. I was about to leave when the paps suddenly went bananas and attacked a car where a 7ft skinny blonde model appeared. I recognised her, but could not be sure who she is exactly. Its a few years since I followed the fashion model scene. I did manage to capture the Odeon fashion scene on video ( I have a small camera for the live blogs from the shows ). If you want to have a look and see if you can identify the model, log on to and hazard a guess. I just missed Dita Von Teese and Kate Moss but my sandwich was starting to do its work, and I had to rush back to the smallest hotel room in Paris. I was due to eat in an old haunt and meet up with some people to watch the Manchester United match. My stomach informed that all bets were off and without going into too much of the graphic detail; I spent the next 12 hours going from the bed to the bathroom. I crawled out of bed in the morning and took a taxi to the airport and finally came back to Cork, and on to Clonmel.

Don’t forget St. Valentine’s Day next Sunday. You can surprise your loved one with a €12 bottle of Chateau Valentine ( a lovely Bordeaux Red from the great 2005 vintage ) which we will be promoting and tasting this week. We also have some lovely gift packs which hold a bottle of bubbly and 2 champagne flutes. What could be more romantic? Congratulations to the owners of the local horse that won at 18-1 in Leopardstown last weekend. For once, I did get the tip and had money on. There was also some great news for one of my favourite producers this week as Nicolas Boiron of Bosquet des Papes in Chateauneuf du Papes won the 5 star Decanter awards for the 2007 vintage with his very special cuvee Chante Le Merle. A lot of my regulars know his wines as the Cotes du Rhone and his traditional Chateauneuf are very popular. I often get people into the shop who love to tell me about the amazing price they paid for a Chateauneuf that they bought somewhere else. Considering the time and oak involved in making a traditional one, I always suggest that they taste the difference. There is just no comparison of flavour, length and power. Now, some people don’t like a wine so complicated, so the light weight Chateauneuf might suit their palate more. That’s fine and a matter of taste, but if that is the case, then they should try a Cotes du Rhone, or something made for their style. One thing that should always be the case for a wine be it an €8.50 Pinot Grigio or a €24 Chateauneuf is that the fruit, alcohol and acidity must be in balance. That is very often the problem with large scale commodity wines and why the cheaper wines from the serious winemakers ( like Nicolas ) are often the very best value.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at or follow the ranting on Twitter –

For anyone who would like more information and can’t make it into the shop, please feel free to contact me at

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Feb 11 2010

Red Nose News

February 5th, 2010

Hello Wine Lovers

A bright start to the day so lets hope it carries through to the weekend and holds for the rugby.
A really different wine is new to the shop – I only got a couple of cases, but so far the wine is proving popular. For does of you who like Barolo or Barbera d’Alba but don’t want to wait for it to mature ( or pay the prices ), may I suggest Dolcetto d’Alba. It literally means “the little sweet one” and has black cherry and licorice undertones as a general rule. We have a biodynamic version called Le Ghiaie and we are selling it for €19.50, which is great value when compared to the Nebbiolo varieties.

The German Pinot Gris is also back in the shop after a little break. I know a lot of you were looking for it.

For a limited time only, we are giving away a choice of the following when you spend €75 or more in the shop ( or online ).

- A pack of handcrafted coffee from Ponaire Coffee – artisan coffee and part of the Tipperary Food Producers Network

- Handmade chocolate truffles from the wonderful Lorge Chocolatier ( a French cooking genius who lives in Kerry )

- Handmade chocolate bars from the wonderful Lorge Chocolatier ( a French cooking genius who lives in Kerry )

A very talented artist ( Barry Keegan ) put together a profile picture for the twitter,facebook, website profile. It can be seen here
It is a very typical scene on my trips … if only !!!!

We are opening up wines again as the weather is a little better, so please call in for a taste.

Lots of wines on offer still.