Busy, busy, busy
It's been far too long since I last posted on this site. There's no real excuse other than I've been busy. Busy with the day job. Busy trying to get some house bits sorted. Busy spending quality time with my family, including an amazing holiday with virtually no wine. But I'm now busy getting ready for a full-on few months with lots of wine.
Wine isn't my day job. It's my side hustle, my passion. I host regular events for Birmingham Wine School as well doing private tastings and consultations. I study and learn and next month I'm off on another wine trip.
Because it's not my day job, I have to squeeze all these things into an already busy life. Hopefully one day I'll be in a position to make a living out of wine but, for now, I'll do long days and weeks and test on the patience of my wife and children.
Next month I'm heading to Bordeaux for a few days. I'm going with my wine drinking posse; my dad, brother and brother-in-law. We'll explore the region, drinking good wine and eating good food and they'll indulge in my geekiness to look at soils, vines and barrels.
Bordeaux is an area I've read a lot about. I've also explored the wines from afar but this trip will be the first time I've actually been there. It's a hugely historic region laying claim to some of the most exclusive wines on the planet. And for such a large production area, it's fairly compact. We'll spend time in Bordeaux itself and visit both sides of the estuary taking in the likes of Saint Emilion, Margaux and Pauilliac.
The last trip we went on was on four wheels so we were able to bring our full (post-Brexit) quota of wine home with us. This time around we're going by air to save time (remember all the squeezing in?) so we'll be limited in what we can bring back.
It should be fun and we're aiming to pack a lot in so I'll report back on this blog in the coming weeks. I did say I'd give a detailed account of our last sortie to France but life has so far got in the way. Maybe one day I'll write a guide book??
I've got a number of wine events for the Wine School booked in too, including an Australian and New Zealand night and a Fizz & Chips dinner later this month. I've also got a Burgundy vs Bordeaux event to host later in the autumn, so I'll be able to share my holiday snaps.
I buy the wine for all the events I host and I love doing it. I source them from various supermarkets and online retailers to prove to customers that good bottles are out there if they just look a little harder.
The problem with hosting so many events (and trying to accumulate a decent private collection at the same time) is that I often have a lot of bottles lying around at any one time. This wasn't a problem before we converted our garage into an extra living room. But recently I've had bottles scattered all over the place.
So a few weeks ago I ordered a couple of large wine cabinets, designed to keep bottles at the perfect storage conditions. These are basically large glass-fronted fridges where I can keep all my wine in one place.
The first one arrived a week or so ago and I've finally managed to clear my mother-in-law's garage where more than a dozen cases had spent the summer. I'm also going to be able to take delivery of quite a lot of bottles that have been kept in The Wine Society's warehouse since arriving in the country.
It also means that I can make the most of the various supermarket offers to stock up for events or for other customers. These come around fairly regularly and they are a great way to save money. I've posted on this before but getting 25% off six bottles is a great way to get bargains on Champagne, for example. Tip - follow @affordablewinehunter on various social media platforms to find out when the supermarkets are trying to clear stock.
But before I brush up on my Bordeaux wine knowledge ahead of my trip, let me share with you a couple of great supermarket wines I'll be pouring at events this month.
This is one of my go-to bottles of fizz. I always have a bottle or two nearby. It's a South African sparkler made in the same traditional method as Champagne. Graham Beck sell a lot of different versions but this is their standard Brut. It's bursting with freshness, apples and citrus acidity and a bit of the biscuity savoriness you get from the second fermentation happening in the bottle. Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama have been fans so if it's good enough for them...You can often pick this up for around £11 a bottle when the supermarkets have their offers on. I think this one was from Waitrose but Majestic also sells it.
I love Australian wine. A lot of the cheaper supermarket bottles don't have much complexity, especially the reds. They're full of fruit and alcohol and can really pack a punch. They serve a purpose and lots of them are really popular. But if you look slightly above the usual suspects you'll find some bargains, like this one from D'Arenberg.
Usually £12.50 at Tesco, I picked this up a couple of weeks ago for under a tenner and it's fantastic. There's a bit of age on this now and aside from the brilliant plum and raspberry flavours, it's softened into a delightfully complex wine with herby and earthy notes.
Pick them up when you next see them on offer and you can thank me later!