“You know Shakespeare? To be or not to be… with irrigation it is not to be!” 

In part 1 Colombo discusses the use of irrigation by wineries who are often in drought stricken areas and touches on how global warming is changing the world of wine, sometimes for the better and othertimes (obviously) not.


I find myself eating far less meat than ever before for the main reasons that a lot of what we consume is poor quality, mass produced and environmentally damaging. That said, it is hard not to get excited in the colder months about the abundance of game meats that we have in Britain. What’s more is that they make the perfect accompaniment to a variety of wines.  

Many wine apps have set out to please mobile users but often have ended up in the trashcan as lack of necessity trumps usefulness. Is the new “sommelier in your pocket” app, Corkscrew, about to change that?  

Looking for a new horizon of wine buying adventure? Discover your vinous Indiana Jones alter ego by venturing into online auction, GrapePip.com

Auctions are a funny thing; intimidating to those who have never been, whilst intoxicating and addictive to those that buy from them. Sales of wine online are rising exponentially and all the consumer buying data suggests huge growth potential. But what does that mean for us drinkers?

I hadn’t given the wine auction model much thought until I had lunch with Caspar Bowes, CEO of Grape Pip, the “Ebay for wine” (his words). He explained that Grape Pip isn’t really rocket science, but it does have a place in the landscape of wine buying. As we chatted I started to see his point. The wine drinker may have a few regular benchmark bottles that are ordered with reassuring regularity, but there's also another very human desire we hanker after, a mental itch perhaps, that needs satiating: adventure.

beaune 1er cru
Rossignol-Trapet - Beaune 1er Cru Les Teurons - 2010 - "Retro chic"

The beauty of auction buying is that you are momentarily suspended into the realm of the treasure hunter. The idea of the great unknown, or in this case, the great undrunk, is the driving motivation to scour long listings looking for small parcels of joy. The adventure lies in the bargain buying but also in the quest for tasting new experiences.

Fine Wine or Fools Gold?

Of course the auction has always been a place of inherent risk. My rock solid example is Roger Moore in the 80’s Bond classic, Octopussy. Bond buys the famed faberge egg only to find out that he has been duped. Luckily he was bidding with taxpayers money so it didn’t matter but that’s not the case for the rest of us!

Although much has been made of faking bluechip wines in books such as Billionaire’s Vinegar, or, more recently, the documentary ‘Sour Grapes’, the real concern for many is how the wines have been stored. An old bottle with mottled label may look the bee’s knees but if it’s hanging around under the former owners stairs next to the boiler for ten years, then the buyer may get a bout of disappointment when it is uncorked.

I put this question of risk to Caspar who inhales confidently from his glass of 2009 Domaine Morey-Coffinet Morgeot Fairendes, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, and goes onto explain that only fine wine that has full provenance can find its way into the listings (I’m quite sure he has the same policy for his glass too). Grape Pip claims to be very stringent in its adherence to this policy as a best practice to protect the customer. Afterall, adventures can at times turn awry but in this instance, we’d prefer our rejection of a wine to be based on preference of style or taste than because it tastes of bitter cardboard.

So I set off to checkout the site for myself and thought that I’d begin by price checking what’s in the listings with Wine-Searcher.com’s copious volumes of international records. I was actually relieved to see that Grape Pip had second guessed this step and actually put a link on the listing page so that I could bring it straight up. The wines I checked certainly did represent a bargain in the auction and I was starting to whet my thirst for… well, port… and burgundy…. and, and, and….

Going once, going twice…

Since lunching with Caspar I have been away quite a it but am looking forward to getting online over the Christmas period and placing an order that will be delivered in time for when January’s boil of abstinence will need to be lanced. It’s cold outside and I do have port on my mind so that will be my foray order. I am going to get some mates to have a go too and am looking forward to reporting on their feedback sometime soon.

If you have a try then please email your feedback to be added to the mix!

You can conduct your own due diligence here: www.grapepip.com or...

For a slightly more interesting Christmas gift voucher: https://www.grapepip.com/p/Vouchers


The suave wine store and eatery combined, located in the Zig Zag Building on London’s Victoria Street, M Wine has just installed a pair of draught taps for customers to drop in and get refills of two deliciously drinking wines that could see a change in the way consumers buy their everyday drinking wines.


Another fun Pink Lady Food Photography award ceremony at the MALL Galleries. As the wine and champagne, supplied by Taittinger and Errazuriz, flowed freely, accompanied by delicious pictures and bites of food, a good crowd turned out to enjoy the event.


It’s an old truism that if you supply very good wine at a party then people will drink more as a response. This is a double edged sword: on the one hand your reputation for having good taste soars, however, it is likely the bill for the occasion will too. So what to do? We all want great value, quality and quantity when it comes to a once in a lifetime event such as one’s wedding. Having people wince in agony as they toast your nuptials is not good for the photos. Whispers of malcontent at the great wine in short supply is not desirable either. Then of course there is the food to consider. There has to be a degree of versatility in the wine. If you are celebrating in Britain then you’ll have no idea whether it’ll be raining cats and dogs, blowing a gale, or burning the exposed aged pates under the heat of the sun.

wedding wine tipsChoosing Wine Is A Job For Both The Bride & The Groom... 

When I recently asked the UK’s top wedding planner, Mark Niemierko how he tackles the wine issue, he stated, “We would normally advise a client to attend a tasting with a sommelier, that we’d arrange. That way they can be walked through a range of styles and tastes and work to their budget. Ultimately you want wines that are easy to drink, because you’ll have one or two hundred different palates to cater for. The wine must also be versatile to pair with whatever menu the chef will be preparing.”

Although spending an afternoon with a sommelier is an attractive idea, it may not be suitable for everyone. However, Niemierko’s points about finding a style that is easy to drink as well as versatile, is worth keeping in mind. It maybe that you go to your local wine merchant and ask for a range of options within your budget, specifically asking for “good food wines” and easy drinking. It may also be that you consider a red and a white for your food that is particularly styled towards the food and perhaps a little more per bottle than the wine that is drunk after the meal. Make sure you taste the options before you buy. That is crucial. Also, if you have traveled and sampled wines from a particular place that you recall fondly, see if you can find an example from the region, and drop it into the speech. The audience will look on the liquid with even fonder eyes!

When it comes to the fizz then Champagne is always an obvious choice but perhaps you might be a bit more considered in your selection. For instance, Brits should be willing to show off the exceptionally high quality sparkling wines the UK is producing these days. Our sparkling wines are hauling in many International medals against champagne, much to their credit. Of course, there are now so many countries and regions producing high quality sparkling wine that no matter where you come from, you should be able to find a sparkling wine that heralds from not too far away. Find out what it is and get your hands on a glass to see what it is like.

Ultimately, buying wine for the wedding should be a fun job, and not just the “work” of the groom and his consorts. Ladies also have a good palate for wine and should ensure they’re drinking their preferred tipple too!

How much should you buy? You’ve got a mixed bunch coming. Some people don’t drink and others certainly do. You need to strike a balance. It is likely best to allocate around one bottle per head, so half a red and half a white, with some slack in case the tastebuds swing hard in one direction. Choosing well is crucial again; if the white is grim and the red good, you know what will run out fast! With the fizzy, expect your guests will guzzle down more than their fare share and keep in mind that you’ll need at least a splash left for everyone by the time the speeches come round.

With the wine in hand you can focus your attention back on your beloved and know that your guests will be delightfully oiled enough to dance to the worst pop music known to humanity. Enjoy!

Nick Breeze@NickGBReeze
with thanks to Mark Niemierko



Instagram Photos from the Bouzy Cruise in Paris, May 2016