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20% OFF New Australian Wines

July 29th, 2011

It has taken a while, but Red Nose Wine has finally added Australia to the list of countries we are importing from. The container arrived recently and to celebrate, we are going to offer 20% off some of these wonderful wines, until the end of August.


The range on offer includes wines from Langmeil, Bleasdale and Woodstock.

The Langmeil wines from the Barossa Valley is a big hit with the critics and James Halliday just awarded his new scores ranging from 90 to 97 points. These are serious wines, and Shiraz, GSM Blends, Riesling as well as some high end superstars.

The Bleasdale Wine come from Langhorne Creek and offer Chardonnay, Cabernet, Shiraz & and a fascinating Shiraz-Cabernet-Malbec blend.

Let us not forget Woodstock from McLaren Vale and their classic Shiraz Cabernet blend. So get your shrimps, and fire up your barbies… prices start at €10.39 for these great examples of Australian Wines.


Article – Wedding Wines

March 2nd, 2011

“The Bells, the Bells”. I can hear them ringing in my head. That may be due to the amount of wine tastings I have been attending lately, but I think it is due to the wedding season being upon us. I was at a very lively wedding fair in the Clonmel Park recently and it was abuzz with innocence and youth.

I remember it well. I was married in Minella back in 2004. My wife never asked me to go to a wedding fair though. She knows me too well. I turned up and the hair was combed. My promise fulfilled.

Wines for all occasions

I love supplying the wines for weddings as people really care about the wine being good but are also on a budget. This is where small independent importers come into their own as we can offer consistent ‘direct from the vineyard’ prices for serious quality wine. The happy couple can also taste the wines and be confident in their selection. This approach has also worked for christenings, communions and confirmations.

But apart from all the obvious self promotion, the thing that people want to know about wedding wines ( apart from the price ) is what to serve. As much as I love Riesling, I would not serve it at a wedding and as much as I adore Pinot Noir, it is too expensive and most people won’t get it.


Its all about the bride people

I am going to abandon my normal position on being adventurous in your wine choices. In terms of large gatherings where the wine is very much down the agenda in terms of the day’s priority (It’s all about the bride), I would suggest being conservative. My advice is stick with a crowd pleaser, and I am not talking about the bride. Stick with what is popular and goes well with beef or salmon.

Sauvignon Blanc is popular for a reason but closing in on its popularity is Pinot Grigio. These are the two white varieties of choice at the moment. The poor old Chardonnay grape cannot get a look in but it’s a pity as it is great match with that old stalwart of Irish weddings, Salmon.

Chilean Merlot still seems to lead the charge with the reds but the French Languedoc Syrah-Grenache blends are doing very well as that whole authentic earthy style sits well with the Irish palate. Cabernet Sauvignon is still doing well as it goes so well with that other classic, beef.

We want the finest wines available to humanity

You can’t ignore the price issue and to be honest when it is a large gathering and costs are already astronomical, price is important. However, If you want to spoil your guests, I am ready to serve. I am still waiting for Richard E Grant to jump in the door of the shop and scream “We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now”. For those of you not familiar with it, it’s a scene from one of my favourite films, Withnail and I.


To sum up, keep it simple and keep it cheap with wedding wines but don’t poison your guests. They are bringing you presents after all so you need to treat them well. If the wine is bad they will tell everyone and they may not come to your next wedding.

Enough with the bloody politics

This is my last political commentary – I promise. By the time this is published, we will have a new Taoiseach. Hopefully at that point, we can move forward as a united country and build a future that works for Ireland. I think that maybe I should run in the next election.

As Jackie Healy Rae famously said that he represented “the people who eat their dinner in the middle of the day”, I could represent the people who drink wine with it. I should probably distance myself from those who drink wine in the middle of the day.

This week I met with some like minded importers from around the country at a little wine sampling / dinner in Ely Bar in Dublin. Lots of progress was made and a serious plan put in place for the year. We were able to confirm our new shared Spanish wine collection which starts at €8 Euros per bottle.


Don’t miss our current 20% Sale on Languedoc wines. Now that is value.

Who wants a coffee?

As mentioned last week, Red Nose Wine is delighted to announce we have taken delivery of our first coffee. We are constantly expanding our range in wines, but we are now giving you another reason to call in. The coffee comes in full beans and ground bags and comes from Tipperary Food Producer Tommy Ryan of Ponaire. They have a fantastic roasting facility and have a range of flavours to choose from. We will be adding more quality coffee producers to the range in the coming weeks.

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“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Article – No sugar please, I’m sweet enough

August 13th, 2010

Dont mention the Trip

I will not mention travel, foreign food or even nice views from hot climate terraces in this piece. I think I have flogged my recent wine trip to within an inch of its life, if transient ramblings through vineyards exist as an entity, and actually have a life. Have I swallowed a dictionary or am I abusing a thesaurus again? Alas I have not. I ate a Pizza late last night and spent the night having mad, crazy dreams and my conclusion is that one of those dreams must have involved a duel with words. Suffice to say, I don’t remember my dreams and this is a very longwinded way of telling you that I will not talk about my trip to France.


Confusing Times in One’s Head

So what else can I talk about? Lots of things I hope you agree. For instance, rather than mention a wine, or a region or price or quality, I will attempt to answer a question that I get asked about regularly. How does one taste wine properly? One must first desist from referring to ones self in the 3rd person, for that gives the impression that one is full of one’s own importance, and this is one of the many regular battles we in the wine world are trying to change. So, we and oneself shall become myself, yourself and whoever else is tuning in. “Dear Doctor, come quickly. I am having the dreams in the daytime now”. Begone foul cheese dream monster and leave me in peace.


Tasting Wine

I have covered the topic of tasting wine before and at the risk of repeating myself ( as opposed to oneself ), I will attack it from a different angle. Even though the jelly bean test is a great way to reveal the importance of smell in tasting, I will refer to someone whom I have a lot of time for when in comes to wine, the first lady of the critics, Jancis Robinson MW. The MW means she is a Master of Wine, of which there are only 280 in the world today. Apart from all that, she is great at getting to the heart of a wine, and is very level headed about the hype and most important, she has a great palate. She has a book called, “How to Taste Wine”, and for someone who wants to go past the “I know what I like” stage of wine appreciation, this is a good place to start. It covers the basic questions and moves with consummate ease up through the more complex parts of tasting.


Sugar or Spice

The first thing she discusses is what formed the basis of the last article I wrote on tasting, which amounts to, “its all in the nose”. Hold your nose as you eat a pineapple and then release it as you chew. The huge rush of flavour comes from your nose and your sense of smell. Draw air in as you eat your food to enhance the flavours. I don’t have enough space to go into all the various aspects involved, but I think they are all important, so I will start with Sweetness in wine. Depending on how it is received, I will cover acidity, tannin, body, balance and the rest of the equation in later articles. Sweetness in wine is one of the most misunderstood descriptions of a wine. The tip of the tongue is the place where we assess how sweet something is, be it ice cream or wine. The science goes back to the basic principle that “grape juice becomes wine when yeasts act on the sugar in ripe grapes to convert some, or nearly all, of it into alcohol”. The sweetness is determines by the amount of sugar left in the juice, the residual sugar. This sugar varies between 1 and 200 grams per litre, and a ‘dry’ wine is a wine containing between 2 and 10g. You will see a lot of cheaper wines ( think Chilean and Austrian ) containing a lot of sugar, as the enhanced sweetness can often mask the rougher edges that might exist. The wine world wouldn’t be what it is if there was not a direct contradiction to this. In this instance, it is the wonderful sweet German wines and the desert wines of Sauternes and places like it. These are super sweet, and a million miles away from the commercial wines with added sugar. People talk about excessive sulphites giving them a hangover, but added sugar isn’t the best thing for your head either. Have you ever had a Coca Cola Sugar hangover? To sum up, most wines are dry and when you are asking for a sweet wine, as yourself if you want a sugary desert wine, or do you mean off dry.

Name the Wines

For reference, bone dry wines include Muscadet, Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc ( Sancerre ; Pouilly Fume ). Dry wines account for most of the wines out there, and they include most Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, white Burgundy, white Rhone & Provence wines, Pinot Grigio, and many more. To experience medium dry, you should look to my favourite white variety, Riesling, Viognier, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris and the German wines labelled Kabinett, Spätlese or Halbtrocken. You then move up to Medium Sweet with late harvest wines from Asti and Moscato or Tokay from Hungary. There are varying levels of Sweet and then very sweet above this with Sauternes being the standout wine. All of the above are white, and while Red Wines do vary in sweetness, 85% of them are Dry, but if you want a slightly sweeter one, try Pinot Noir, Chateauneuf du Pape or a juicy Australian Shiraz.

Don’t forget that the Tipperary Food Producers Long Table dinner is coming up on August 25th in Chez Hans, The Old Convent, Inch House and Brocka on the Water. I’ll be representing the Network in Clogheen myself and look forward to a wonderful night with Christine and Dermot.

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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 Aug 12 2010

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Aug 12 2010

Offer – Buy 6 get 1 Free – New Zealand Wines

May 27th, 2010

Red Nose Wine are launching a very special and innovative new style of weekly promotion.
We strive to have the wines at the best prices we can, so there really isn’t a whole lot left to discount.
What we can do however, is offer you free stock. So, we will offer a different type of offer every week.
We will bring specific countries, areas, grape varieties, and styles together and give you the chance to get free wine.



Each week, there will be 3 Wines on Offer – of a shared theme.
Buy 6 get 1 free
You can mix and match the wines
You can choose all the one wine OR any mix of the 3 on offer each week.
You must choose a total of 6 in order to get the free one
It won’t suit you every week, but we’ll keep it fresh.

To start with – the 3 wines this week are :

New Zealand – A Taste of the Exotic

New Zealand Vineyard - Nelson

New Zealand Vineyard - Nelson

Tussock Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – Tropical, Delicious and Only €13
Greenhough Pinot Noir 2006 – Ripe black cherries & dark chocolate : Only €16
Waipara Springs Premo Dry Riesling – Fresh lemon zest & crisp green apples : Only €14.50

Buy 6 bottles : all of one, or any mix and get a 7th bottle free.

The details

Just order as normal online – pick a mix of the six online and tell us which one you want free
( if you get 12, you will get 2 free ).
Or you can pick your mix of 6 offer wines and any 6 other wines to make up a case.
The choice is yours.

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Mas de Daumas Gassac Tasting

April 16th, 2010

Slideshow of images

A Really great night was had in Clonmel with Samuel Guibert of Mas de Daumas Gassac. Samuel arrived on Tuesday and planned to leave on Thursday. The volcano in Iceland had something to say about that. In between all of this, we really had a special night’s tasting on Wednesday April 14th in the wonderful venue that is Nuala’s Cafe. Between the old style European venue, the sunshine, Samuel’s accent and the aperitif on arrival, we could really have been in a cafe in France.

Before the night’s tasting, I brought Samuel to see the Rock of Cashel. His brother Roman and I both were sentenced to a spell in nearby Rockwell College, and that is how we got talking when I met him in Paris originally.

Samuel at the Rock of Cashel

Samuel at the Rock of Cashel

Samuel spent some time in the warehouse – he was able to see for himself the growing selection at Red Nose Wine. I tried to get him to lift a few cases, but his phone got busy. :)

Samuel at Red Nose Wine

Samuel at Red Nose Wine

Gary Gubbins and Samuel Guibert

Gary Gubbins and Samuel Guibert

We started the tasting off with the Moulin de Gassac range which offers huge value starting from €9. The new Red Le Classic du Gassac also offered the Irish market a new red wine that will really offer huge value for money. Samuel did not get too technical with his presentation and spoke more about the history of Gassac and how his parents, Áime and Veronique started the vineyard after discovering Burgundy like soil in the middle of the Languedoc. Their drive and vision created a truly iconic wine. It has been hailed by many different commentators :

• The French magazine Gault-Milau called Daumas Gassac “Lafite Rothchild of the Languedoc-Roussillon”
• The London Times argued that it tasted like a “Latour”;
• Hugh Johnson called it “the only Grand Cru of the Midi”,
• Michael Broadbent wrote “One of the ten best wines in the world”
• Robert Parker claimed it to be “Exceptional” and “One of the most remarkable non-appellation wines of France.”
• The Wine Spectator’s 1994 article on this region concluded, “Only four wines rated outstanding, and they are all
from the same producer – Mas de Daumas Gassac, the undisputed star of the Languedoc-Roussillon.”

Samuel explaining about where the wines come from

Samuel explaining about where the wines come from

Samuel obviously has his father’s famous charisma as he wowed the crowed and explained everything from the possibility of secondary fermentation in a sweeter white wine ( the fizzy white syndrome ) to the varying experiments with different grape varieties over the years. He tackled questions on sulphites and even got into Hungarian Oak at one stage. Through it all, the crowd sat mesmerized, and I think his invite to everyone to visit him at the Domaine might be taken up. The female side of the room in particular were checking their diaries. I have had 3 calls to date asking when he is coming back, and a number of people who did not attend and were complaining that i did not tell them about Samuel. My pride was hurt, as they knew I would be there, but the wines were the real stars of the night.

Samuel talks about the great Mas de Daumas Gassac

Samuel talks about the great Mas de Daumas Gassac

The wines tasted on the night were :

Rose Frizant – served as an aperitif

Guilhem White

Faune ( Viognier based wine )

Classic Red – the new wine that was launched on the night. Great wine for the price.


Mas de Daumas Gassac White 08

Mas de Daumas Gassac White 09

Mas de Daumas Gassac Red 07

Mas de Daumas Gassac Red 08

The stars i think were the Viognier dominated Faune and the 2007 Mas de Daumas Gassaec Rouge. The Albaran stood up as it always does, but can’t be compared to the Grand Cru.

The creamy undertones in the Mas de Daumas Gassac White 2008 contrasted with the sparkling freshness of the 2009. The Sauvignon lovers preferred 09 and the Riesling/Viognier lovers, 08.
All in all, it was a great night and I can’t wait for my trip in July to visit Samuel and his family in the wonderful Gassac Valley. I had a great time their last year.

A big thank you to Samuel for coming over to Clonmel. Also, a huge thank you to Nuala and Helen for all their work. Lastly, I would like to thank all the people who made the effort to come out. It was a great night.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine visiting Mas de Daumas Gassac

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine visiting Mas de Daumas Gassac


Video clips on the night

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

Liberty Wine Tasting Feb2010

February 25th, 2010

I am back behind the desk after a very tiring jaunt to Dublin. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and stay overnight. Tuesday night saw a bit of smoozing among my MBA fraternity colleagues as we listened to Robbie Kelliher of Davys Stockbrokers wax lyrical about all things equity. Fascinating stuff, lots of value out there with anyone who has a few pounds – although fine wine is a far better investment. Little too many ‘what ifs’ for my liking in his speech. God help us all if interest rates rise before we are ready, and some economists argue that they have to. Robbie didn’t think so. I hope he is right. Before and after that, I did a tour of wine bars and restaurants to see how the big smoke enjoys a wonderful array of choice when it comes to their wine night out. Ely was great and so was Olesya’s Wine Bar on Exchequer Street. I was with my brother and the night wore on a bit, so after all the wine and the prospect of more the next day, I decided i needed to detox. So I had a lovely pint of Guinness.

pint of Guinness

On to the reason for the post – The Liberty Wines Portfolio Tasting. While i import a lot of my wines myself, and have to say much prefer this route, the reality is that you can’t be all things to all people, and I rely on other experts to prop up the list. Liberty are definelty one of the better ones out there, and they have a huge selection, and I think that we benefit greatly from the fact that they are UK based, as it offers us a choice we might not see otherwise. We had an Italian Tasting with them in December and it was a huge success.

It was great to meet Lar Veale of and The Sunday Tribune and Kevin Crowley of Fenns Quay Restaurant in Cork city. We have been tweeting for a while now. Lar kindly asked me for an interview and i made it onto his blog post. Kevin was also interviewed, but there were creative differences about the script, judging on the photo.

Lar and Kevin in debate over content of interview

I also got to meet some of the people behind some of our most popular wines.
The utterly charming Victoria Curatolo of Villa Tonino in Sicily.
Victoria Curatolo of Villa Tonino

I only started stocking Allegrini before Christmas but even at the higher price point, they are very popular. The La Grola and the Palazzo della Torre are great wines, but I finally got to taste the Amarone yesterday and it was really special. They also had the Corte Giara range which were really interesting as well, and at a better price point.

Silvia Allegrini shows off her Amarone

Silvia Allegrini

We sell a lot of Chianti and Sangiovese in general. It was great to chat to Giacomo Alari who is behind wines such as the great value Cantina De Montalcino Sangiovese di Toscana, Da Vinci Chianti,Chianti Classico and both the Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino.

Giacomo Alari

The other stand out wines for me were Domaine Nicolas Girard Sancerre – very different with all of the grassy notes you would expect from a Sancerre, but still a little bit of a change from the norm. Domaine Pfister’s Riesling was long, dry and delicious. There was a Cotes du Rhone called Domaine Richaud that was mind blowing, but at an RRP of €21.99, too expensive to sell. There was a Primitivo di Puglia that was really interesting at the price. The Costa della Sesia and Lessona from Sperino were great examples of both blended and pure Nebbiolo. The Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir really surprised me and offers good value. The Capezzana Olive Oil really finished off a wonderful days tasting.

A little video tour of proceedings …

As well as Lar, I also managed to bump into some other members of the Irish Wine press and it was great to talk with the men behind the words. Tomás Clancy of the Sunday Business Post told me a great story about his meeting with Robert Parker, whom I studied inside and out for my thesis. Unlike Tomás, I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the man. It was also great to meet Kevin Ecock of the Free Running blog who gave me some good advice about the workings of the Irish Wine World.

Huge thanks to Gerry, Ben, David and the rest of the Liberty team who put on a great show. The lunch was delicious and the red wine Capezzana Barco Real, was one i stock as well, so great to see.

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.

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“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Feb 11 2010

Article – Rudolph the Red Nose Wine Deer

December 12th, 2009

I can hear the sleigh bells being tested and the elves are getting the big man match fit. He’s on a strict regime of fine wine and good food. He’s not sure who has been naughty or nice. He’s pretty sure there are a few ‘masters’ of commerce who have been very naughty indeed. Will they get a lump of coal this Christmas or will he take pity on them like the government (and by default, the taxpayer) have. To be honest, I have lost interest and am just looking forward to spending Christmas with my family. But before that can happen, there is much fine wine to sell and hopefully Christmas is the time when people can treat themselves to a bottle of real and authentic wine. Whether it is an Italian Pinot Grigio for €8.50, or a perfectly aged 1995 Chateauneuf du Pape for €39, the important thing is to enjoy it with family, friends and good food.

With so much food to be eaten this Christmas, I think it is high time I matched them to the right wines for you. Enough of my self indulgent rants; let’s talk turkey, and ham, duck, beef and maybe even Foie Gras if we have time. While I have lots of cheaper wines I can match, Christmas calls for something more. Wherever you buy your Christmas wine this year, I would hope you buy it from someone who can help you maximize your dining experience. You spend so much time, effort and money on the actual food; don’t ruin it by buying a poor or even average wine. Ask them about the wine they are selling you – challenge them to sell you something authentic and real. It’s going to be a bleak winter one way or another, so let’s allow ourselves the window of Christmas. Let us start with the big one – Turkey. It is quite a dry meat so matching this can be tricky – what you want to do is counteract that dryness with a wine that is rich and full of life from the start. While some would disagree, this is why very dry Bordeaux is not always a great match. What does fit the meat perfectly, in my opinion, is Pinot Noir. I have waxed lyrical about this grape variety on many occasions – it is a poorly kept secret that it is my favourite wine. It has very little tannin normally so will not overwhelm the meat. Unless you are serving a top end Burgundy, I would suggest serving the wine at what is known as cellar temperature, about 13 degrees. If you do go down the road of high end Pinot (and you really should), let it come up to room temperature and leave it open up for an hour or two before serving. You may even consider a decanter. It will make a huge difference. I can almost taste my dinner now. Personally, I am debating between a Burgundy Premier Cru Nuits St. Georges I have or the delicious Muddy Water Slowhand Pinot from New Zealand. The people who attended the recent tasting know what I am talking about there. It’s Christmas so I might have both. Another alternative is a fantastic New Zealand Pinot Noir I negotiated a good price on last summer with Christmas in mind – down from €21 to €16.

What about white I hear you shout. White meat demands white wine it has been said. Not always I would suggest. If you prefer white and have a Turkey to enjoy, I would suggest something with a little more body, such as a good Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay or a Pinot Gris ( as opposed to Pinot Grigio ). Chablis is always popular as is Pouilly Fuisse. Good French Chardonnay, while popular, also tends to be pricier than its Australian equivalent. The tendency with ‘modern’ Chardonnay is to over oak. It became popular for a while but the market overdid it. The wine floods came as they so often do and the market changes as it so often does. Chardonnay is not currently a popular wine when compared to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. Personally, I can’t understand why Riesling is not the top white wine in the world. Then again, Pinot Noir is not the top Red. That is the beauty of personal preference.

If you are having something different such as duck, I can recommend a wonderful wine that Delboy Trotter of “Only Foods and Horses” fame used to use as an expletive when something went wrong. “Chateauneuf du Pape”. This is an absolute perfect match of food and wine. If you can let it open for a few hours or even better, get your hands on a bottle with some age, the flavour, fruit and magic will be multiplied. I have a limited amount of 1995 and 2000 wine from this most magic of appellations. Be very careful of dodgy vintages – when they get it right, they really do, but there have been some horror stories as well. It is all about who makes the wine and what year it was harvested. Whatever you do this Christmas with your dinner, try and match the food and wine as best you can, because it will make a difference. Do we have time for Foie Gras – there is always time for Foie Gras, well at least at Christmas. Champagne or chilled Sauternes would be my recommendations. I have both wines for sale, but the hard part is actually finding good Foie Gras. I was in France 2 weeks ago and got some – the trick is now to convince my family that they won’t like it. I only bought a single block, and there are 7 adults at dinner. If I find some locally, I’ll post it on the blog. Happy matching.

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“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”


Good Food and Wine and how to match them

December 10th, 2009

A great time was had last night in the Clonmel Park Hotel where a cookery demonstration was held by James Whelan Butchers and Jenny Flynn of The Sweetest Thing. Red Nose Wine were on hand to match the foods to wine. It was no surprise that Christmas dinner was on the agenda. Of course with this in mind, i pushed the boat out with the wines. Everyone was greeted with a glasss of Domaine des Anges Red and White on arrival and the chattering amongst the crowd intenstified as Jenny and Pat and their team got everything in place. I poured the wine as quickly as I could, but I had to go to back to the van quicker than I anticipated. The ladies ( for there was not one man in the audience ) were out for a good night and that is what they got. Jenny and Alaister ( one of Pat’s senior butchers ) chopped and prep’d their way through a feast. In between courses I would jump up and try and control the crowd with talk of the best wines for turkey and ham and then duck. We opened Vincent Chidaine’s magnificant Vouvray and it went down a treat. This wine is full bodied for a white and offers a good match for a white drinker who is taking on all of the turkey trimmings. We then brought out GreenHough New Zealand Pinot Noir. I was considering bringing a Premier Cru Burgundy, but it’s hard to go back once you have tasted it. No need to be cruel. Turkey is difficult because it has light and dark meat and the meat can be earthy & dry so needs a wine with lots of flavour. Pinot Noire also matches well to the gravy especially if you use giblets for more flavour, which Jenny did ( I think ).
For the gamier food I decanted some Chateauneuf du Pape and it needed the 2 hours open. It was worth the wait though as all who tasted it were enchanted. This is a real example of traditional CDP and I told them all about my greatest ever meal. It was in a small family resteraunt in the village of Chateauneuf du Pape and I had wild duck with a bottle of CDP. I can still taste both. Anyway, back to reality and the basic points about matching the right wine with your foods are :

Match the weight & texture of the food to the weight & texture of the wine, such as Sole with a light wine like Pinot Grigio but Salmon could take on a more full bodied Chardonnay.

Balance the intensity of flavors in the food and wine – plain turkey requires a very different wine to turkey with all the trimmings

Balance Tastes – Salty and sour will make a wine taste milder, but Sweet & savoury will make a wine taste stronger. e.g. Beef tames a wine’s tannin, but chocolate brings it out

Match flavours – Roast duck with plum sauce like red wines with plum flavours

Counterpoint flavours – The opposite to matching flavours can also be true. Spicy oriental dish should not be matched with a high alchol red as the heat in the dish ignites the alchol in the wine. A low alchol wine is better, and a Riesling will frame and tame the spicy flavours. The added sugar will also help cool down the dish.

Alaister getting ready

Alaister getting ready