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Wine Rambler Articles

While the Wine Rambler homepage displays all new content in chronological order, this section has just the blog posts (i.e. not the reviews of individual wines).

Posted by Torsten 24 Dec 2012

Munich. It is late on Christmas Eve. Snow falls, it is icy and families are sitting around the hearth. No, wait. There is no snow. There is no ice. It is not even cold. Earlier today I arrived in Germany to spend Christmas with my folks and found that summer rules in the lands of Bavaria. A record breaking 20.7C measured in the city centre of Munich! Goodbye to the German cliché of Christmas then, at least for this year. And goobye to the idea of decorating this Christmas post with an illustration of German Christmas Gemütlichkeit, as I had planned.

So I have to resort to an illustration of American Christmas cosiness - "here is one I have prepared earlier" (Newport Bridge, as seen from Jamestown CT a little over a week ago). Maybe not such a bad thing to be more international, after all our readers come from all over the world. So wherever you are this Christmas, the Wine Ramblers send their love and all the best wishes for a great holiday, health and good wine!

Posted by Torsten 19 Dec 2012

Some reviews seem to write themselves, in extreme cases even before you have had a detailed look at the product. I mean honestly, what could you possibly expect from a "wine country mystery" novel entitled The Riesling Retribution that blends the discovery of a body near a vineyard, a love triangle in a winery and old family secrets into a "combustible atmosphere" that also features "eerie ghost stories", "buried secrets" and "a most unexpected outcome"? Is it really a recommendation when the cover cites an inspired reviewer with the verdict "A crisp read that goes down smoothly with a pleasant finish"? Would you trust an author to produce great literature who titles her novels The Bordeaux Betrayal or The Viognier Vendetta?

Let's see if the reality of Ellen Crosby's The Riesling Retribution is quite as predictable as that.

Posted by Torsten 19 Nov 2012

Music does not taste. Wine does. Rather obvious, but not nearly as simple as you may think. What we perceive as the taste of wine is actually our brain combining all sorts of information and the tongue only plays a relatively small part in this. What we see, know or hear, everything has an influence on how we taste. And as music and wine are often enjoyed together Classic FM and Laithwaites Wine argue it may be worth thinking about how to match them.

tasting with musictasting with music

To make this point they hosted a wine and music tasting in London last week and the Wine Rambler went to investigate.

Posted by Torsten 22 Oct 2012

A map, a camera and a wine glass. These are the essential tools of the civilised traveller. The map will get you there, the camera will capture it - and the wine glass is used to enjoy the exciting wines you discover. Water, food, first aid kit, I hear someone say, are surely more important than a wine glass! Well, I thought so too. After all where there is wine there must also be a wine glass, you would think.

Sadly, you are wrong. Let me tell you a little story - a true story - that happened this summer. It involves yours truly, a map and no wine glass. And the Samos Wine Museum.

Posted by Torsten 07 Oct 2012

You and I have unfinished business. Don't be afraid, gentle reader, the unfinished business is not with you and I won't come after you with my katana - just to put those of you familiar with movie references at ease. My unfinished business was with Washington D.C., the capital of the richest, most powerful nation on earth. At the Wine Rambler, we don't do feuds small scale, nor do we forget. It had happened to me in 2009 in D.C., and three years later I armed myself properly, booked a flight and returned to settle the score.

Washington callingWashington calling

In the course of this mission I fought mighty lions, returned to the scene of my disgrace and (well prepared and armed) I did battle, restored our reputation and came home with molten Riesling gold, snatched from the dragon's lair.

Posted by Torsten 24 Aug 2012

2012 is the year of Britishness. We had the long weekend of celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. We have the success of the London 2012 Olympics. And a public sphere proclaiming a rebirth of Britishness. British wine drinkers apparently felt the same: the Jubilee weekend meant record sales for British wine. All is good then, expect for the fact that I will now face a very stern talking to from about every representative of the wine industry in this country for calling their product British. It may be English, it may be Welsh, in the future it even may be Scottish - but don't you dare call it British.

the colours of English winethe colours of English wine

This distinction is so important to the industry - and for good reason, as we will discover later - that the first ever English wine consumer class held at the WSET started with explaining it. More importantly perhaps it was a great introduction to English wine, and a necessary one as the quality of English wine will still come as a surprise to many a seasoned wine drinker, foreign or British.

Posted by Torsten 10 Aug 2012

The principles of good customer service are the same in any industry, be it the wine trade - or media and cable services. Issues may and will arise, it is how you deal with them. Over the past four months, Virgin Media have failed me in an impressive way with regards to customer service. Whether sharing my story via this open email will make Virgin Media reconsider their approach I am not sure, but at least it should inform or, all else failing, entertain others.

Dear Virgin Media,

This is a lengthy email, but it also chronicles a lengthy story of bad service, broken promises and days of my time wasted by Virgin Media – all for nothing.

"Deal or Deal", Gene Hunt, CC BY 2.0"Deal or Deal", Gene Hunt, CC BY 2.0

The short version starts with a ‘special’ deal to recognise me having been with Virgin for almost five years and ends after 7 visits of Virgin engineers, days wasted waiting, hours on the phone and broken promises – only to be finally told that my issue could not be addressed as Virgin Media is not capable of delivering clear TV quality anyway. Needless to say it also involves me paying money for this loyalty reward.

Posted by Torsten 29 Jul 2012

Wine is nothing without people. It is people who make wine. It is the company of the right people that makes for a great evening with wine. And it is people's stories that make for engaging wine writing. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting a man who not only makes excellent wine but who also talks about it in such an engaging way that there is only my writing to blame if you don't walk away from this article at least a little inspired.

I certainly left inspired after my encounter with Nik Weiss, the owner of the St. Urbans-Hof estate in the Mosel wine region of Germany. It made me think about the magic that happens when you fall in love with a piece of land and the produce you bring forth from it. It is a magic that over thousands of years has transformed the land but it also transforms the people who work it. This is a story about how the Mosel transformed a man and how he in turn set out to transform his part of the Mosel - and about a little magic that happened when I spent an evening with him and his Riesling.

Posted by Julian 26 Jun 2012

When we first launched the Wine Rambler, we anticipated, rather optimistically, that wineries might at some point in the future might send us samples to review. But we also always insisted, a touch self-defeatingly perhaps, that we would be very strict about ethics and transparency in doing this. And we are. But the good people of the Terras Gauda winery of Spain, which makes and markets a range of wines from different regions of northwestern Spain did not let themselves be deterred by this, much to their credit, and were kind enough to send us a six bottle sample to review. And it fell to the Munich branch of the blog to do it.

How to go about such a task? I decided on the following course of action: I would not research anyone else's reviews, ratings or scores beforehand. I would not research prices either, which means I could not comment on value, but I wouldn't be influenced by it either. I would also not set up a single tasting where I would compare them in a professional setting. Instead, we would drink the wines at Munich HQ, one at the time, over a couple of weeks, like almost anyone who buys them would: On the kitchen table, after a day's work, with food.

Posted by Torsten 12 Jun 2012

Even sensible people shy away from dentists. I have never quite understood this, after all the pain will only get worse if you don't go, but it is a fact of life I have learned to accept. So I am aware that my next sentence risks damaging the reputation of a respected German winemaker, but the truth has to come out: Georg Rumpf wanted nothing more than to become a dentist. I wasn't aware of this when I visited the Kruger-Rumpf winery last October, but it provided an important piece of the puzzle for understanding the role of family in winemaking as part of my investigation into death, dreams and destiny.

Georg RumpfGeorg Rumpf

Luckily, neither death nor dentists will feature in the following story, but lots of good Riesling, great food and a little something on the philosophy of winemaking. It won't hurt a bit. Promise!