villa maria 2010 private bin There are wines for tasting, savouring and generally making a bit of noise about and there are wines for drinking and trying to get as much conversation out between gulps as is humanly possible.  The latter seems to me the most prevalent in the life I lead and yet I still like to know that what I am drinking will titillate me whilst the brain seeks to engage my companion.

The relationship between chatting and wine is symbiotic.  One lends the other lubricated motivation and the other gives form to what would otherwise be solitary chemical reactions articulated by thought.

In the chatting and drinking business I am often interested to not mention the wine, despite being excited to try it, yet intrigued to see the reaction, physical and occasionally verbal, to what is being consumed.

Last night I had a friend over for dinner.  I quickly fried some fresh squid in olive oil, mixed with juice of a lemon and some chilli flakes.  Then emptied it onto two beds of rocket and parsley salad and served with a very chilled bottle of 2010 Vintage Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc.

The wines from this region are now so bench mark sauvignon blank that familiarity often breeds expectation and desire.  The mind longs for the crispness of the acidity and the mouthful of gooseberry and hints of something slightly tropical (whatever!).  Sure enough, the wine was opened, poured and we assumed the consuming position.  A quick chink and "nice to see you" later and we take our first guzzle. 

I adopt a totally neutral response, though lingering a moment longer than I meant to, suggesting contemplation.  My friend, clocking this pause, looked back at the wine and let out a "uuummm" in praise.  This was followed by a quick clasp of the bottle and gander at the side of it.  Then on placing it back on the table, "that's nice, do you drink much wine from New Zealand?" 

The wine itself was nice, very refreshing and everything that I expected but slightly better than the slightly cheaper bottles from the same or similar regions on sale everywhere.  This wine in particular is meant to be a better quality wine and it is.  The fruits come out offering puckering acidity that is really pleasurable.  I'd order it anywhere on a hot day or with a wide range of dishes in a restaurant or for a picnic (and so on and so forth).

But what I found more interesting was that a slightly predictable response from my friend had almost become necessary courtesy to the host.  I didn't mind one way or the other but the wine by virtue had to punctuate our main conversation.  We had to acknowledge its presence.  Modern wine drinking rituals are developing.  Gone are the libations to the deities (which is a shame) but we now have libations to the wine itself (not calling it blood) and compliments to each other.  Very civilised and just as it should be… just as this rather good wine deserves!

Follow us on social media:

Secret Sommelier on TwitterSecret Sommelier on Instagramfacebook 001linkedin 001youtube 001

COPOUT Book by Nick Breeze

Climate change podcast

Last week a picture was posted on Twitter of vines in Shabo, a large estate that lies to the west of Odesa on southern Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline. The image seemed benign at face value but the reality, of course, is that the city of Odesa has been bracing itself for attack by Russian forces. 


As COVID-19 conspires with the grimmest of winds and rain to force a societal retreat behind our own front doors, the word ennui springs to mind. The muddle of displeasure is pierced when Natalia hands me a large bulbous glass of a liquid I do not recognise.



Britain’s lamentable exit

On the eve of Britain’s official departure from the EU, my partner and I decided to explore a small town on the Italian Riviera where thewintry cold doesn’t feel so much like cold war bite.

I had warned my significant other that I would be having an inverse departure party, a release of the sanity valve if you like!


Sitting inside the ancient castle walls inside the town of Soave, a short drive from Verona in northern Italy, the unique slightly almond aroma of the indigenous grape, Garganega, rises gently from my glass. The castle sprawls up the side of an extinct volcano that gives the region its variant soil structures that mark out the better quality of Soave wines.


Tanisha Townsend decided to move to Paris 4 years ago after regularly passing through the city en route to the world’s most famous vineyards. In fact, it was about 2 years ago at the Printemps de Champagne Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims that I saw (who we shall now refer to as) GirlMeetsGlass chirpily speaking to her web followers on Snapchat.


The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.


We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of this site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

  I accept cookies from this site.
EU Cookie Directive plugin by