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⭐ Win a Community fine-wine favourite: 200-word writing competition



Bluebottle-buzzing heatwave, set for weeks to come. British brains parboiled, lethargy sets in.

The good lady invites a vintage selection of friends, makes delectable morsels. At 6pm the man of the house, hand on wine cooler, sighs in contented relief. The scene, a lightly oaked pond. Guests greeting, gently circling for places at the oasis. White wine. Fashion-led Felicity, be-Ray-Banned atop, (‘Doo call me Flick’).toasts each in turn, her grin caricatured, lopsided through her raised glass. The man thanks God for screw-tops. James and Jane, coming by car, are anxiously aware of each other’s consumption. As the day cools, the company warms. After the second glass, or the third, the brigadier, ineffable font of good graces, murmurs that the wine is indeed welcome, never more enjoyable than tonight. Words echo round the watering hole, praising temperature, freshness, it’s simply being here. For wine complements and enhances good company, and it is the Italians who know how to enjoy life outdoors as the sun sinks slowly lower. On such a Mediterranean night at water’s edge, the Society’s Verdicchio gently laps over all, cooling and warming, caressing those priceless moments shared with friends.


For many years Jonathan and I would invite each other to dinner and serve a wine, already decanted, for the other to identify. We had a good deal of fun and once, to my delight, I identified a Bonnes Mares.
A while later he produced another fine wine, in his beautiful vintage claret jug. It was indeed a delicious claret - so delicious I even thought it a Burgundy at first sip. Jonathan insisted I took another guess. I was hopeless lost. Italy? No. New World? Eventually I took the hint and guessed Bordeaux. It was indeed Bordeaux but then I gave up.
All I could say was that it was very good, but I had no idea what it was.
It was a bottle of 83 Prieure Lichine. Which I had taken him as a gift, six months earlier, from my own cellar.


A long hot day (we’ve had a few). Tired. Stressed. Looking for relief. I know, a “Big Red”! Pulled the cork. Pored the wine. Anticipate and take a sip…No! Wrong decision. So-so wine. All dodgy salesmanship and no reward.
A box in the corner. Wine Society. Relief at hand! “Simple Pleasures” it tells me. I scan the list. A white? A red? Chateau Haut Brianda Bourdeaux 2016. It leapt into my hand. “Juicy”, “Rounded”, “Friendly”. Made for a friend in mind. Poured and took in the heady scent. A sip…and breathe. Tension melting away. Loosen the tie. Take a deckchair in the garden. Taste the wine, smell the flowers. It’s good to be home!


It sounds like half a life time ago but it really was only some thirty five years. There were still stocks of UK bottled fine French wines in private cellars if not in many Wine Merchants lists with, perhaps the honourable exception of the Wine Society. A supper party and we had moved to the second red. The conversation droned on, my mind wandered and I picked up my white wine glass. The nose came roaring out and all the flavours had exploded—my hand crept across the table for the bottle. A little left of the 1959 UK bottled Meursault ; I was spotted and the red wines were forgotten for a while as we revisited the white Burgundy.


I forget the village, I forget the girl, but the wine…it was Chambertin.


The best wine is the wine recommended by a friend. A friend who knows that a cheap vinegary wine just wont impress, a friend who knows you well enough to recommend a wine you’d like, and can afford. For me, the friend who recommended the Hedonist Shiraz will remain a friend for life! The friend who shared his bottle of Apothic red will always be on my Christmas list. The lesson? Share your wine.


A pub meal in West Sussex with friends years ago introduced me to a fabulous dark, red Shiraz from Victoria. Even better, it was a bin end. Took the empty bottle home to help try to find a retailer. Found it in Australia and bought a case while I was there to store in our daughter’s house! Then, surprise, surprise, I found that the Wine Society stock it; Billi Billi Shiraz. Cheers!


We all know the wonders of the bouquet from a good wine, but only once have I experienced one with the power to cross a room. It was in the mid eighties and were were marking the wedding of two good friends in the legendary Croque-en-Bouche restaurant, alas no more, in Malvern, Worcestershire. I had never tasted red Hermitage, and being in celebratory mood seeing a Jaboulet Hermitage Le Chapelle 1970 on the list we decided to push the boat out.
The restaurateur Robin Jones opened the wine at the side. A sublime aroma slowly pervaded the room. Our fellow diners fell quiet, in awe. The taste? Words fail me. We had a second bottle, not quite so divine, but still superb.
I have sampled plenty of good wine since then, but the best is the enemy of the good.


My boys, aged 9 and 11, 25 years ago helped me organise a very special surprise of a 40th birthday party 25 years ago for my husband. We chose the Dorchester Hotel as it was always a place he wanted to dine at, invited 16 dear friends and family and discussed the menu and wines with the delightful manager of the Terrace Restaurant. One of the wines he suggested was a bottle called “Cloudy Bay”, a sauvignon which he thought we ought to try. Being a sailing family, the idea of a wine being called 'Cloudy Bay" made us all giggle and although we like our wines and sought out different types, I had then never heard of it.

Bearing in mind this was 1993, and New World Wines were a new phenomena, come the evening in question, we were all blown away with Cloudy Bay. Whilst the name also made fellow guests laugh when they were first introduced to it, and were marvelling at the beautifully cooked seabass it was served with, it was the wine which quickly took centre stage when it hit our tastebuds. The evening was a resounding success and my husband, children, I and friends still remark upon the birthday party when we were all introduced to such a stunning and memorable wine.


In the 1960’s I worked as a rep in Northern Ireland for Coleman & Co, wine shippers of Norwich - a great company, but now long gone. We had a good pub trade in South African “sherry”; cheap and not bad quality - so, whilst taking an order from the landlord of a bar in a provincial town, I noticed a dusty bottle on the top shelf, lurking amongst other assorted odds and ends. I asked could I have a look and the landlord took it down. It was Lafite 1955. How did it come to be there? He could not remember exactly, something to do with an order for some French people doing business in town - but anyway this was the last bottle. Would he sell it? Sure. How much? Would ten shillings be too much? The deal was done. I felt like a prospector who had found that record nugget! My wife and I drank this wine in the late 1960’s; it was at it’s peak, for 55 was a “fat” year. A superb combination of everything that makes a great claret - the cedar on the nose, the full soft pallet, the lingering floral after taste.
I have had the opportunity only few times in my life to taste grand crus, they are now well beyond what I can afford. That blessed bottle lives in my memory and when I say to my family “did I ever tell you about that bottle of Lafite 55?” They roll there eyes and smile -“yes dad, you did”.


Once a year my wife and I visit a beautiful, quiet pub with rooms in Wiltshire. We spend time relaxing, walking, running and enjoying each others company. We also enjoy the hospitality of said establishment as their food is first rate and they have a bottle shop in the nearby town, sometimes offering free corkage. A short, fresh walk found us in a nicely stocked wine shop deciding between two Pinot Noirs. One of them was Felton Road’s Bannockburn 2013 and if it was good enough for the Australian shop assistant to recommend it was good enough for us

Over dinner we asked the waitress to decant, which seemed a mistake as we were presented with a rather cloudy looking jug of plonk. My disappointment vanished when we tasted though. After hours of researching and tasting Pinots, I suddenly got it - this was the wine I had been looking for. Often I think back to that savoury delight. No Kiwi fruit bomb, much more sophisticated than that. Good structure but that truffle and mushroom umami will stay with me forever. I’ve been a regular Felton buyer since, but nothing beats that first revelation, especially from such modest expectation


Just after New Year in South Africa in 2003, I stood in the beautiful Buitenverwachting estate winery in Constantia, just outside Cape Town, surrounded by glistening steel fermentation tanks and listening to Estate owner Lars Maack explain the creation of Buitenverwachting’s Flagship Wine, the fabulous Cuvee Christine.

Straight from the chilled tanks he withdrew first some Cabernet Sauvignon, then added some Merlot and finally some Cabernet Franc. The wine wasn’t yet out of the womb, let alone kindergarten, but already the aromas were heady and the taste was tongue-tingling.

Tasting mature “Christine” in the winery’s restaurant a short while later, the magic of the grapes and the winemaker all came together in a mesmerizing, life-affirming first taste moment and I was hooked for life.

“Buitenverwachting” translates into English as “Beyond Expectation” - my first Cuvee Christine experience was thus perfectly described and has remained so ever since. Truly a “WOW”-wine-moment that I am delighted to refresh and cherish with each vintage fifteen years later.


Twenty-five years, I thought, who would believe it. You ordered the same wine, a Rosso di Montalcino. You said you loved the way it hovered between power and subtlety, with the slight scent of oaky blackberry. I nodded in agreement. All I could detect was a warming of the heart. How different from the first time.
On that bleak and wet Thursday evening, I’d sat in this same restaurant. Little has changed, apart from the absence of candles waxing their way down wicker covered Chianti bottles. Sixty-eight minutes I waited for him, nursing a Campari and Soda. Until you came across and understood my predicament, my sense of embarrassment. Your smile won me over even before you spoke. Okay so I was a woman on her own, but I still had to eat. I ordered the Veal Scaloppini and you suggested the Montalcino. I baulked at the idea of a whole bottle but as the other customers made their way home we shared that last glass.
I like to think you haven’t changed that much, a little heavier perhaps. Every year you remember. You buy me this sexy Sangiovese, and are still as sensitive as you were that first evening.


A warm summer’s evening in the shade of a willow tree in a garden in Alsace. Family, friends, and food over hot charcoal - skewers of rabbit; garlic prawns; herbed chicken. Pinot gris, and from up the hill in Albé, a pinot noir rosé. Off the beaten wine track, only the third vintage for its maker, Thomas Klein, but already bringing forth solid wines from the unusual schist vineyards. To finish, something from the village’s other young wine makers, the Barthel twins, learning the ropes from their father. Michel had related the story of a 2015 riesling vineyard, ripe and ready for harvest, thwarted by unwanted rains, berries bursting under the strain of water. But then nature relented, sun and winds drying the grapes, the gift of a late harvest wine that perfectly hit the sweet spot of sugar and acid, dried fruit and preserved lemons - « L’Inattendu », “The Unexpected”. Limited quantities, never to be repeated. Refreshing and satisfying, the perfect conclusion to the meal. And to eat? More inspiration from the younger generation. Our son produces « Cola Acide » marshmallows to toast. Miraculously, the heat intensifies the flavour, a gooey reflection of the wine, sugary and sappy. Unexpected wine, unexpected food. Wow!


I grew to appreciate Alsatian wines in the 80s when I was living in southern Germany just over the Rhine from this beautiful region of France that is blessed with both great food and superlative wines. I could drive to the very heart of the Alsatian wine district in less than an hour from my home in the Schwarzwald. I particularly loved the beautiful walled village of Riquewihr and I soon discovered the wines of Hugel & Fils who are based in this village. I return to Alsace as often as I can and I especially remember being there on a beautiful warm sunny September day in 2016 as I was making my pilgrimage to the Hugel shop. Of all the super wines I tasted there that day I will always remember tasting the stunning 2005 Gewürztraminer “Hugel” Selection de Grains Nobles. It thoroughly deserved its 97 Parker Score. It was, quite simply, sublime, and the delicious aroma and exquisite taste was enhanced by the surroundings given that I was only a few meters away from the Hugel vineyards that are just outside the walls of the village. Every time I drink this wine it reminds me of that special day in Alsace.


Many years ago I worked as personal assistant to the chairman. He was an
important and cultured bachelor who had lived for years in a untidy old
flat in Mayfair. He decided to move to somewhere more convenient and asked
me to help clear out his flat. A big task with all kinds of forgotten things
turning up. At the back of one cupboard we found two wine bottles covered in
dust and he gave them to me. One of them was Chateau Leoville-Poyferre 1929!
I knew enough about cru classes to know this was very special so carefully
kept on one side for a suitable occasion.

Not long after I married Diana. One evening we found ourselves at home with
nothing special to do. Inspiration! That bottle had been waiting to be
opened for 40 years. Diana’s meals are always delicious and worthy of a
great wine. We opened it carefully (cork still in good condition) and the
bouquet of that wine came out to greet us. It was amazing, so fragrant and
neither before nor since have we experienced such a wine. In our time we
have enjoyed some great wines but that Leoville-Poyferre remains our back


Set the time machine controls to Paris, 1985. I visited the Paris office regularly. Usually a day trip from the UK. Daniel the French manager and I got on well. His father had been in the wine trade, driving his van to vineyards then returning to Paris fully loaded. We had a plan whereby I would drive a van to Paris then he and I would emulate his father. It never happened.

Daniel only gave me one bottle of wine during the years I knew him. It was a St. Emilion and it was a gem. It was rich, balanced and it had a flavour that was new to me. I liked it immensely.
I am no wine expert (in 1985 google or online ordering were not available) so my simple plan was to buy St. Emilion in the UK to repeat the experience. Although I enjoyed many of those purchases they did not get close to replicating the bottle I was given. I should have taken the van on the vineyard tour.

I am consoled by the thought that wines that reach a mythical status in our memories are likely to be those we taste only once.


After radiotherapy my sense of taste deteriorated. Cheese, chocolate and coffee were all downgraded on my palette. The radioactive scorch that cured also blighted. When I brought a glass of wine to my lips – young, fresh, red – my brain said ‘no’. Headache and nausea threatened – I could not let the wine pass my lips.
Four years later the family gathered on the terrace of a house in Umbria. The sun had begun to set and its golden rays reflected Italian warmth from stone walls. A bottle of local red wine was opened . What the hell - I can deal with a headache later.
For some reason I took a generous mouthful. Instead of the anticipated nausea, my senses exploded. I felt my brain register the warm glow of the fermented grape. As I started to swallow, a searing intensity reached not just my throat, but my shoulders, lungs and entire upper body. It coursed through every vein, its richness filling every cavity of my being. It hymned its way through my stomach to my heart. It was confirmation that life can return with so much more to offer than had ever seemed possible.


In 1982 my partner Chris bought three bottles of wine in Paris, knowing little about their provenance. Two were plonk, but one was a Domaine de Chevalier 1978. Discovering how good it was meant to be, he kept it.

Fast-forward to 1993: because of US visa problems we moved suddenly from California to Leicester. We were dead broke, with little teaching work and a four-figure Inland Revenue bill. We lived in a rented terraced house with no furniture other than a foam pad doubling as bed and sofa (my furniture was being shipped from the US). But we could still try to see the New Year in in style: roast duck, I think. And the Domaine de Chevalier? Dare we drink it? Reader, we did! It was well worth the wait; wonderful, great notes followed by the longest finish we had ever experienced. We spent ages over this bottle. And 1994 saw in a change in our fortunes—the tax bill turned out to be in error, the furniture arrived, work returned. Most important, we married. As a Wine Society member since 1988, I could buy wine again, though we still can’t afford Domaine de Chevalier…


Can I just say a huge WOW at the entries we’ve had so far - not only the sheer number of people taking part, but the effort you’ve gone to in order to share such a special wine moment with us! :smiley:

I’ve enjoyed reading every single one of these! And I hope all of you newer faces will enjoy joining in with some of the other topics here, such as our Weekly Drinking topic (and the weekend one will start tomorrow!), the #twstaste virtual tastings (a new one is being announced VERY soon) and maybe even sharing your favourite UK wine bar!

There’s still just over a week left to get your entries in, so I look forward to reading more of your wow-factor wine moments. :slight_smile: