As unfamiliar to me as the word claret was, I had anticipated that I’d have to use it. Using it seemed to confer a certain savvy, it hinted at time spent by the fireside at a grandfather’s knee and gave the impression that the user was familiar with sixth form meals at public school and had spent time in the clubs of St James’s.

I could live with using the word claret, even though at first it only tripped awkwardly forth. Luncheon was another matter.

I just didn’t get it. We didn’t have breakfast wines, so why have luncheon ones? The only way to get over my reluctance to use the word would be through some form of behavioural therapy – where I’d use the word and in the process get used to using it. For that to work, however, I’d have to get round the word first and I’m admitting now that I couldn’t. I could never get the word out. Until, that is, yesterday.



I used the term for the first time yesterday.

We were having lunch in the garden with the family and a good family friend, Linn Rothstein of Merry Widows wine. She’d brought with her, amongst other things, a red from the Languedoc that she’d promised to taste. Unfortunately, when we opened the bottle, we discovered that it was corked. We needed something else. I scurried inside and grabbed a red from Bordeaux.

We opened it, it was in good condition and it worked well with the lamb I’d grilled on our barbecue – the first of the year.

Linn remarked on the wine and said that she loved the sweetness that was hiding in the wine behind soft tannins. She was right; the wine was very good with that faint smell of pencil shavings offsetting more generous aromas of blackcurrants. It was both interesting to drink and refreshing; light in its way but also full of delicate dimensions of taste and flavour.

As we drew our wine appreciation to a close I remarked that this wine was what I could have called a luncheon claret when I worked in the wine trade.

There, I’d said it, I’d said it out loud and it felt good.

TOP TIP: If you want to get a glimpse of why so many people make such a fuss about the reds of Bordeaux, but don’t want to have to sell your house to do so, I’d recommend that you look at some ‘second wines.’ All of the main producers will issue these second wines at prices considerably lower than they achieve for their first wines (although it must be said that these wines are still quite steep and not everyday wines by any means.)

There are lots of good examples, widely available; a favourite of mine is Alter Ego by Chateau Palmer. It gives a good impression of what the main wine of Chateau Palmer is like, at a fraction of the cost and I also like it because the label is the same as the one they use for their first wine, only in negative: with gold text on a black background.

Ewan also posts regular articles about  wine at

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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.


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