I suppose my interest in wine and drink started after those initial supervised sips during dinners with my parents at a young age. As the years have passed a glass of wine has become my guilty pleasure, however sometimes trying to see past a verbose label on the rear of the bottle can be a bit of a headache. I therefore felt I needed to de-construct some of the language used to describe (and market) wine whilst finding out more about drink on level that you or I can understand! Hopefully all of this will be whilst having a bit of fun and extending all of our understanding of the drinks industry as a whole
philipgerhardt has written 31 posts for nononsensedrink

Nononsensedrink returns! Cornish Knockers and the future…

It’s official, after a length absence of some 6 month Nononsensedrink is back in town, this time for good!

Before going on I feel I should really apologise for my tardiness in posting; Nononsensedrink hasn’t been updated since September 2012! One massive house move and the chaos leading up to (and after) has been the major driver of this lack of communication to the outside world and all our followers. The good news is that we’re back with a vengeance! As I write this post I sip on a cool glass of Oxford Landing, Sauvingnon Blanc 2012 and reminisce about some of the posts of last year. So what’s the target  now? The answer’s simple;  to go one better.

To achieve this, we have the following exciting developments coming up over the next few months:

  • Updates from local guest ales from our local at @ParkTavern1 (our local). Their guest ales change on an astonishingly frequent basis. Keep your eyes peeled to discover some ale gems from a highly recommended pub in South East London.
  • August 2013: Live updates from California included recommended local wines and other tipples. Keep your eyes peeled as we tour California in the first two weeks of August (not to be missed assuming the internet connection keeps flowing like the wine!)
  • The usual wine and ale commentary from news items over the weeks and months.
  • Some special updates and reviews in addition to the focus for this year (which will be in the main wine and ales).


Cornwall’s Finest Knockers (or conkers)…?
Image courtesy of Skinner Brewery (skinnersbrewery.com)

With all this going on there is a lot to look forward to. Whilst I prep for my next post I will leave you with a discovery that a Cornish residing friend reminded me of, Cornish Knockers ale.

Check out Skinners Beers who claim to be the hoppiest beers in Cornwall. I can certainly vouch for the fact this is a hoppy pint but also smooth. Have a pint, what’s your thoughts? Bottles of this poison are easily available in your local Waitrose or other John Lewis Partnership Store

Great to be back blogging again, it’s been too long. I will be circulating thoughts, ideas and updates again very soon but in the meantime feel free to share the content, the more merrier! Lets get some contacts going

As always, Sante!


Vieux Chateu: A novel way of marketing wine or a gimmick?

Chatyes or Chatneu that is the question? Image courtesy of Washington Post

Wow how things come around. It was but a few months ago that I was complaining that a certain Malbec wine produced in the rolling hills of Kent had to be given away for free as the Euro technocrats stomped on this experiment after it was discovered that the grapes originated from Chile and were therefore not legal

Now it seems history is repeating itself, this time in America, this time in an argument over what can be classed as a château and what cannot (article found courtesy of my good friend The Oligarch Kings). So what exactly is all the fuss about? Well it appears that the French are getting particularly shirty after discovering American producers are trying to sell their wine in Europe under the guise of being produced in a ‘château’ when in fact the wine is being churned out of multi-million dollar processing style ‘châteaus’

I’m really in two mind about this. Whilst I completely understand the French point of view of wanting to preserve the name behind quality wine produced in the grounds of some off the oldest  prettiest and most historic buildings on the European mainland, we can’t overlook the fact that globalisation comes at a cost that can’t be ignored. If France really wants to be seen and respected on the global stage it must make concessions and allow the mass-produced American wine into their country. Their best customers and everyone else in the know will still know the difference between some $20 bog standard bottle and an excellent year of an exquisite château. Moreover the UK booze cruise will just get more feverish!

Wait! (I hear the opposition cry). What about protecting the value of French wine? My answer here is simple. Whilst I understand that plenty of English produce (such as Stilton) has protected origin of source clauses written in we cannot be expected to hold French wine in the same regard as the scale is so much larger and after all we are only talking about a name and not the product inside!

How can it therefore be one rule for the rest of Europe (who would be looked at with disdain if they boycotted a foreign product) have one rule applied and France another? If the French winemakers truly wish to be respected on the global stage they need to abandon this ridiculous isolationism as others already embrace the inevitable effects (and benefits) of globalisation

It  wouldn’t happen in the UK ……(just nobody mention the Windward Islands and bananas!)


Some news and Barack’s Beer the recipe for Presidential Success

Before I begin I feel I should note that going forward ‘nononsense’ wine will become ‘nononsensedrink’ as I branch out and move into other drink markets. So why this move you may ask? The answer boils down to the fact that there are so many other interesting ales and other drinks out there which this blog (by it’s very name) could not cover. Hopefully this change will allow me to discuss, make links and explore ideas far beyond the current scope with some hoppy real ale stories within my line of sight!

So this change will also hopefully explain the lengthy absence since the last post but without any further ado let’s get down to some interesting drink related news stories….

With the American Presidential Race reaching it’s hiatus, enthusiasm is mounting and the candidates are exploring any vote winning option that springs to mind. Mr Obama’s interesting approach is to brew his of special batch of ‘White House Beer’ using the special ingredient of Honey from the bees in the Whitehouse Garden. He has stressed that he has bought the equipment out of his own pocket and not from the pocket of the American taxpayer and let’s be honest Mr Obama is indeed playing to his strengths. The far right weren’t going to vote for him anyway and these are the same people who A. believe he is the devil and B. believe that drink was made by the devil so he doesn’t really have much to worry about on this front. He has however opened up himself and the Whitehouse to a majority of middle class democrat America who A. love drinking and B. would do it themselves if they could.

“So it may be the very bees in the garden of the Whitehouse that bring Barack back to the Whitehouse. Let’s hope so…”

Keep your eyes peeled for broader drink related posts to come…


English Sparkling wine on the up or on a road to nowhere?

So with the Olympics over its time to turn to the latest news stories rocking the wine world. So what did I stumble across this week, yep you guessed it, more english wine news and also here from 2011 in the Guardian.

It turns out even a panel of European wine magnates couldn’t knock English wine, with one Spanish wine expert going as far as saying the wine was excellent! So what next for England? Could we be the new player on the global sparkling market, boosting the economy in the process? I think not.

“When you buy a bottle of champagne you are not only buying into the wine itself, you are also buying into a romantic notion, a craftsman’s dream.”

Whilst we all love to see a bottle of local English line on the shelf of our local delicatessan, there is one thing that we seem to lack, the passion and craftsmanship that is seen elsewhere in the world. Let’s take the scenario of a French wine-making village. You can imagine it now, a quaint river babbling through the centre of the village, a dog lying under a shady tree in the village square and group of older men playing boules and generally being merry. OK so this image is a little cliched but it’s supposed to be as I am of course making a point.

Yes we can make a decent bottle of wine that impresses the Europeans and yes we would probably buy it but lets be honest the romanticism stops there. When you buy a bottle of champagne you are not only buying into the wine itself, you are also buying into a romantic notion, a craftsman’s dream. In England when you try to do the same you can only think of an abandoned shopping trolley in the babbling brook and a sprawling supermarket in which crime is rife an on the up. Again this image is a little stereotyped but I of course once again make a point. Lets hope that England wine making finds that something else to hang its hat on; it’s possible think of Bombardier ale, country life butter or Hovis bread.

I for one look forward to this time!


Olympics unearth foreign delights: Where should you go to fulfil a food and wine lover’s dream?

Welcome to the Alps of London
Picture courtesy of houseofswitzerland.org

Continuing with the Olympic theme, there seems to have been some kind of Olympic food and wine revolution that has swept across London. With participants and representatives from a plethora of countries around the world, what better time to showcase the wares of each nation?

Of course included in this ‘revolution’ that has descended on the capital for the summer is wine from many of the countries. Many of these ‘houses’ for each nation’s Olympic teams are nestled at the heart of some of the cultural centres and markets of the capital and must surely not just do wonders for the local economy, but also for the communities in these areas. So where are they?

Switzerland: Nestled in Glasier’s Hall in the heart of Borough market (nearest tube London Bridge) is the official house of the Swiss team. Serving up everything form rösti to fondue, a glass of Swiss Chablais also doesn’t go amiss. Borough market is a hip and bustling place; a kind of creative quarter nestled underneath the railway arches of London Bridge aone not to miss! If you fancy picking up a decent bottle pop by to the Wine Pantry (@WinePantry) and pick up an excellent bottle in an excellent enclave.

Germany: Have taken over the Museum of London in the Docklands to showcase their club vibes. No doubt the building is now more akin to 80s Hamburg, however this official German House is a short walk from the German VIP ship currently moored in Canary Wharf. Again food and culture are the name of the game, and no doubt an excellent Reisling is on offer both in the building and on the VIP boat (nearest tube/DLR Canary Wharf)

Ireland: Trust the Irish to have made their house in the basement of a pub! Apparently they’ve changed it into mock up of Father Ted’s house. The pub itself, (the Big Chill House in Kings Cross) is an excellent venue (take it from me, I lived next to it for two years). With an Irish themed basement and a roof top terrace what more would you want to celebrate winning medals in style. Just a couple of minutes walk from Kings Cross tube and not a bad wine list too. Live music Friday and weekends too but £10 entry throughout the course of the Olympics .

Nigeria: Have taken up residence in the Stratford theatre Royal just a stones throw from the venue. Take a short walk from Stratford station to Nigeria House and get a real idea of Nigerian Culture

So it would seem that London is really a food and wine paradise for all. I’ll certainly be out and about and looking out for more, but in the meantime enjoy the party all!

In the meantime..


Olympic Wines: A gold medal or a wooden spoon?

Sampling the Olympic wine but what about the glass?
Image courtesy of London Evening Standard 2012

With the Olympics just around the corner the eyes of the world are going to be on London over the coming weeks. As a transport worker I for one am going to be exceptionally busy over the next month or so, and with this comes the worry that the Olympics will pass me by like a through train at some dreary station on a wet spring afternoon. If this does happen then so be it as long as I get a bottle of Olympic wine! Yes you heard it, there is going to be an Olympic wine on sale during the games!

As it turns out in the article there are lots of Olympic links to the wines chosen so in an equally cringe worthy fashion I will be making tenuous Olympic links in this article (I apologise in advance).

So the first question that has to be asked I suppose it what exactly are the Olympic wines of choice and what is so special that makes them of ‘gold’ standard (I told you it would be bad)? Well as it turns out the red is a Brazilian Tempranillo of excellent vintage in honour of the next venue of the games in 2016. The white and rose are South African (I am unsure of the link here). As it happens about one million bottles of the stuff will be winging their way to all but a few games venues. Moreover their low alcohol content at 12.5% apparently promoted responsible drinking for games spectators (presumably so that they don’t streak and give Usain Bolt a run for his money).

So what do I think of all this Olympic vintage discussion? Well the first hurdle (note another Olympic reference) i’m assuming that the producers had to overcome was whether to serve the wine in a plastic or glass bottle. No doubt LOCOG have demanded plastic bottles to protect punters from being shanked in a similar way  to at festivals, however this automatically seems to make the wine taste distinctly different. I would of course expect LOCOG to restrict alcohol being sold to a select few suppliers (in the same way that you can only use a Visa card or eat at Mcdonalds at the venues) but all of this does seem a little over thought in the grand scheme of thing.

There will be no other wine on offer for spectators to chose from so it doesn’t really matter how excellent the wine is or how well it is plugged as ‘responsible’, spectators are going to drink it by the gallon either way. Why therefore does Olympic wine have raised up as yet another stalwart of the Olympic dream when it is probably just quaffable plonk? Nevertheless I don’t care about all of this, I just want to get my hands on a bottle for posterity although this does seem to nullify the point of my argument so far. This doesn’t matter, no doubt you won’t be able to take a bottle out of the venues in case it upsets a local happy seagull so the point stands….




Zniber: Les Trois Domaines 2007 (Moroccan)

It was yesterday afternoon whilst discussing with some friends that  that I remembered two points. Firstly I have yet to follow up on some appropriate locations where one can purchase some quaff able wine on the continent for al altogether decent price. You can be assured I am working on this!

The second point is again my lack of wine tasting critique in recent weeks. This said I have found a solution to my vintners block (and it’s a cracker). One a recent trip to one of our favourite Morrocan restaurants, Kasbah in Clapham we discovered a bottle of what can only be classed as Moroccan genius.

The Zniber family vineyard was the producer of the hallowed bottle. Produced in the Middle Atlas (in mountain foothills) at an elevation ranging from 580 to 700 meters, the moderate rainfall and generous sunshine all provide these vineyards with an exceptional site unrivaled in Morocco (apparently).

So how does it rate….?

Taste: 7/10 – When we initially had the first sips the taste was fairly dry and bland, however this grew on us. The fruitiness and acidity came out as the bottle went down which makes this bottle an excellent companion to see food as the sharpness cuts through. The one criticism here is the time is takes to appreciate the wine, it is not an instant classic and reminded me of a bottle of Swiss Chablis before we got into it.

Value: 9/10 – This isn’t to be laughed at. Around £10 (in a restaurant) is excellent value and is likely to be substantially cheaper elsewhere. Have a look at local Morrocan supermarkets to see 

Overall: 8/10  – Ok so it won’t really give many of the French whites a run for their money but after a few glasses this was an overall decent bottle. So with a good taste and excellent value then why aren’t we all rushing out to buy a slice of Moroccan heaven? I’d think the availability is the main issue here with only specialist stores being the places where you can pick  

So yes a real gem, comes highly recommended. Keep posted for more posts to come!


Please ensure that you return your Trolley after use….to France?

It’s a strange old world. One minute it seems it’s too expensive to go abroad the next apparently we’re going to France like there’s no tomorrow!  In my previous posts I showed that you could pick up some pretty decent wines from the continent so this resurgence in day trips to France has to be a good thing. If you do go perhaps steer clear from the ‘Tesco copies’ in Calais (which are designed for the bulk British buyer) unless you’re planning to stock up on vats of the stuff and aren’t that concerned with quality. If you’re happy to spend a little more then perhaps head inland a but more and find the more local supermarches or out of town French Majestic. Here you are more likely to find some decent bottles but still at a much better price and avaliability than in the UK (after all you are going there to save money)

With austerity biting the booze cruise seemed a thing of the past, however with the strengthening pound ans cheap ferry tickets means there is a form of resurgence from this [much loved] British bargain expedition. This could however be a double edged sword. Whilst we wont turn down the bargain offerings, small quality wine merchants back in the UK are likely to start struggling again.

One can only hope that this does not happen……

Hopefully trying some more wines over the coming days, will keep you posted. Remember you can follow Nononsensewine on Facebook here or on Twitter here


Piccini Tuscancy: Chianti 2010

With some fava beans perhaps...?Having been confined to my bed for the last couple of days it got me thinking, I haven’t blogged about specific  a wine for a period of time. Admittedly I actually haven’t been in the mood to sample any wine recently due to a pesky virus however now fully recovered a nice glass of Chianti last night didn’t go amiss. This bottle was the ‘coverted’ orange label of the Piccini family (full details here) and it certainly went down fine. So what do the producing Piccini family say about this wine?

“Chianti Orange is the flagship of Piccini wines. The orange label marks an unique moment not only in the history of Piccini family, but also in the history of Chianti in the world: it marks the first modern image of Chianti for the 21st century. For the first time, in 2000 the Chianti label was simple to the point of minimalism. But the real CHANGE was brought up by the colour: ORANGE is a family legacy as it symbolizes all the energy, youth and passion that characterize our family.” (Piccini, 2012)

Admittedly everytime I drink Chianti I can’t help but make the usual Hannibal jokes, however I shan’t dwell on this and instead will get down to reviewing.

Taste: 6/10. So the bottle was rich and fruity but it was lacking some pizazz. Ripe and fruity (the label agrees) whilst incredibly smooth but i’ll be honest it wasn’t anything more special than this.

Value: 8/10. This was part of a multi-buy deal in Sainsburys back in January. It was great value since it should have been around £7-£9 but we got it for far less. A recommended buy if part of a deal, if not its probably not worth it unless you want lost of satisfactory quality booze.

Overall: 6.5/10. An generally all round OK bottle which  was great value. Defintely a recommended buy but if you’re looking for some high quality wine to drink with some friends, etc then chose your poison carefully. OK so you could get a few bottles of quaffable wine  if you went for this deal, but the old saying comes to mind that sometimes a little is better of an superior product. Indeed there are plenty of other alternatives out there.

Lets hope I don’t get ill again so I can keep on blogging….



Asia: An unlikely wine capital

Asia is quickly becoming one of the biggest wine consuming areas in the world

Image courtesy of http://www.bbc.co.uk

I’ve always wanted to visit the sites of Asia. The Great wall, the Palm Julmera, etc all spring to mind as impressive attractions on an impressive continent but I have yet to make it there.

What is also impressive is Asia’s surge in wine appreciation in recent years. Surprisingly it’s not just the rich taste of many European wines helping to supplement some of Asia’s foods that is the major pull, it is also the ‘health benefits’. This said, only a few weeks ago I commented on the non-committal health fads that seem to be rife in society today, however in Asia it seems that it is there very health recommendations that drive wine consumption. Indeed expensive goods have long been the guilty pleasure of the middle classes, however it seems that the notion of a more expensive good being good for you has gone the mileage in Asia.

Globalisation appears to have brought the exotic to the Orient but at what cost?”

There is one other thing to take from this, new markets that span the world are emerging as legitimate centres of wine enjoyment. This said it is ironic that an area once referred to as the Orient is now not as ‘exotic’ as it once was as European wine now becomes the new desire for many. What a role reversal, globalisation now appears to have brought the exotic to the Oritent but at what cost?

Keep your eyes peeled for news, tastings and articles to come


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