This will put Jerez on your chest.

 

This could mess up your Monday morning if you’re not careful so make sure to line your stomach well and drink plenty of fluids beforehand.

Come join us  down the road at Little Fitzroy on Sunday December 1st where we will showcase a bunch of boozy fortified wines, just as the nights turn proper wintry and thoughts turn to Christmas telly.

At our Mosel tasting a couple of days ago, talk somehow turned to sherry and a bunch of you seemed wildly enthusiastic at the idea of a brief primer on the world best value (and most versatile) wine.

Now Mark knows a thing or two about Sherry, so he’ll select a few of his favourite bottles alongside some of my favourite Ports (and maybe a curveball)

Things kick off at 7.30pm and tickets cost £19. These are only available over the counter at the shop ( we can only fit a dozen of you in, so there’s no point doing internet sales)

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IT’S OUR FIFTEENTH BIRTHDAY!

It was recently pointed out to me that my wife and I opened the doors of Cornelius at the start of November 2004. Now this seems as good an excuse as any to treat ourselves to a big end of year blow-out.

We normally have some sort of Christmas tasting/dinner this time of year, so we have decided to simply ramp things up a bit and blow most of the years tasting budget. There will be no theme to the drink, beyond “These are really good top-shelf wines that you should try”

If you’ve been to one of our Christmas do’s before then you have a good idea what to expect, but it it’s important to note two important differences.

New Location.

We will be partying at BODEGA on Leith Walk. Our local taqueria which has recently moved into shiny new premises (the old Tail End) The food is great and the new venue has quite a bit more space, so we can cram a lot more of you in.

New Time.

Things will kick off at the very civilised time of 4 pm on Sunday 8th Dec. Which means we can get to bed at a sensible time (or squeeze in a pint or two at the pub afterwards)

Tickets cost £35 quid and for that, you get three courses of Mex inspired grub and plenty of top quality booze. You can get them over the counter at the shop or by clicking HERE

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Rieslings to Be Cheerful.

(Yes, it’s a fairly obvious pun, but sod it- it’s late on Saturday and we’re well behind schedule with this)

Come join us  down the road at Little Fitzroy on Sunday November 3rd, where we will showcase half a dozen of the very best rieslings in the world (all German, natch)

Mark spent a week in the Mosel valley a month ago helping to open a winery and he’s going to tell us all about the region and just why it has such an affinity for aromatic, high acidity white wine. He also blagged visits to most of our German suppliers: So, to be frank, he knows these wines far better than me.

As an added bonus, we might end the evening with a glass of decent German beer.

Things kick off at 7.30pm and tickets cost £19. These are only available over the counter at the shop ( we can only fit a dozen of you in, so there’s no point doing internet sales)

 

 

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The Old Masters

I’m writing this on the first Saturday of the festival and once again I’m perplexed at how little impact the worlds biggest arts festival has on our little neighbourhood of Easter Road (seriously, we are at most half a mile from the action and there is naff all going on around here) This is not because we are a bunch of philistines (honest!) in fact we are something of an artistic hub. To prove it we have an arts festival of our very own.

The Colony Of Artists is an annual exhibition that takes over the Abbeyhill colonies for a weekend every September and is a highlight of the shops calendar. The many local artists throw their doors open to a bunch of strangers in the hope of selling some wares and for the first time this year we are going to take part.

Not that we have the talent or balls to exhibit anything ourselves, but we do have a bunch of booze. So on Sunday 22nd September, we will be in the Little Fitzroy Cafe pouring glasses some of very select, dusty, old, maybe past their prime- maybe spectacular wines.

to be honest, we are quite curious about how some of our older vintages are tasting, so this will be a bit of a journey of discovery for us too.

Because there is every possibility that some of this wine will be buggered, we will slip in replacement wines if anything has gone too far over the hill.

Tickets cost £19 and the evening kicks off at 7pm

We are not looking to make any profit out of this tasting, so your £19 will be 100% spent on furnishing you with seven glasses of really good plonk at below cost price.

If this sounds like your idea of a great way to cap a weekend of culture, you are going to have to pop into the shop to pick up a ticket (not bothering with eventbrite since we can only squeeze 12 of you in)

 

*illustration, Edvard Munch, Self Portrait With A Bottle Of Wine. 1906

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Let’s Be Natural

I know it might not look like it, but Mark and myself have been very busy this week. What prompted this sudden burst of activity is the opening of our new neighbourhood grocery, Easter Greens.

Although not vegan myself (like many of us, I’ve flirted with vegetarianism- but I’m never going to give up cheese) I genuinely believe that veganism is to be encouraged and that more vegans, being better catered for is not only better for society, it is a necessity if we are to alleviate the worst aspects of climate change.

Sadly, the wine industry is a long way behind in all this and animal products (mostly fish derivatives and egg white) are still widely used for fining and filtration. What’s even more annoying is the wineries that don’t filter their wine, or use animal friendly fining agents can very rarely be bothered to advertise the fact (and those that do, will hardly ever get certified- meaning you have to take them at their word)

This is frustrating, because although I am confident that many of our wines are vegan. when a customer asks for one, we rarely have anything to back the claim up and have to resort to Googling stuff in front of them (not the best look)

So we took the bull by the horns and thoroughly checked the credentials of every bottle (currently) on our shelves. At time of writing the tally is 245, which is just over 40% of our stock: Not too bad, especially since this doesn’t include the many wines we suspect of being vegan friendly, but were unable to verify.

We also invested in a green pen and a sheet of sticky labels, meaning you can quickly spot the vegan wines for yourself.

 

Cheers!

 

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Portugal (again!)

Okay, it’s been far too long since we’ve done one of these.

Let’s all go to the Walnut, have a lovely meal and let me bore you with some wine chat.

I was lucky enough to visit three brilliant Portuguese wineries at the start of May and I’ve brought back some astonishingly good new booze I want to share with you: Vibrant, bone-dry, zesty as hell whites, dirty, smoky, earthy reds and some of that minimal intervention nonsense that’s all the rage.

Join us on Sunday 23rd June for an evening of exquisite Portuguesinesness.

Tickets cost £35.

For that you get two courses + cheese and seven wines.

BARGAIN.

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YER TICKETS (or pop into the shop)

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HUZZAH!

 

Uncharacteristically and unbelievably I am the bearer of glad tidings. After a couple of months of being short of both staff and cash, we are (possibly) on the brink of getting our shit together. You could almost say that Cornelius Beer & Wine is “Bouncing Back” (and I didn’t even have to drive to Dundee in bare feet whilst gorging on Toblerone)

Firstly (and most importantly)  we have managed to nab ourselves a new assistant manager. Some of you may know Mark as the tall, sardonic homebrewer who has been helping keep the good ship Oddbins afloat for the last couple of years. He’s a great bloke and knows his stuff, I’m really looking forward to working with him. Mark will be starting in June, sadly until then we will still be closed on Mondays.

Also we will be closed Sunday 5th, Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th opening late on Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th. This is because I’m sodding off to Portugal to buy some wine and learn about the cork industry (this counts as work-honest)

Finally, after FIVE YEARS of haggling with the landlord, I am on the brink of signing a new lease (touches every piece of wood in sight) So hopefully, if I can get the money together, I’ll start spending money on infrastructure (new signage/kitchen sink/blinds etc) It’s wont mean much to you guys, but it’s reassuring to know that we’re here to stay (in some form) for another decade.

 

Cheers!

 

James

 

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I Should Cocoa

Although a business should always endeavour to cater for its most knowledgeable customers, it’s far more important to make sure you are accessible to the casual, regular punter who is going to provide you with the vast bulk of your income.

Sometimes I forget this and stuff the shelves with high-end, esoteric booze which attracts a small fan base of collectors, but many folk find intimidating/bewildering. Which means that often, after the initial buzz has wound down, I’m left with a bunch of bottles that can be hard to shift.

In many instances this is no problem- Lambics and Imperial Stouts can age gracefully, so I’m not that bothered if they gather a patina of dust. However, some heavily hopped beers really are designed for immediate consumption and become dull & lifeless after a couple of months, also many bottle conditioned beers can get “gushy”

A prime example of the latter are the beers of Dany Prignon, founder and brewer of Fantome: Home to what many consider the world’s greatest saison.

At the end of last year, I Had to radically discount a few bottles of his beer owing to their age and explosive tendencies.

The reason they had sat around to get into this state is threefold.

  1. they ain’t cheap.
  2. They have “idiosyncratic” (ugly) labels
  3. They were full of weird & experimental nonsense.

(They were also absolutely banging)

Because I rarely learn from my mistakes, i have just splurged out and got in a stack more Fantome saisons, including what may be my most ill-advised purchase to date: The Fantome Chocolat

The bittersweet character of chocolate is a notable component of many stouts and porters, but adding it to a saison, which is all about balance, texture and mouthfeel, seems like a particularly bad idea. However I’m delighted to say that Dany (who specialises in bad ideas) has crafted something delicious.

My bottle poured a not particularly attractive hazy amber colour, with a small, off-white head, which sat happily on top of the beer all the time I was drinking. It’s highly carbonated, with a near constant stream of fine bubbles

It has a complex, earthy, funky nose. With aromas of leaf mulch, leather and a strange (but welcome) hint of peat smoke

The palate is dominated by complex layers of malt, biscuits, toasted lemon and cereal. It is weightier than most saisons with more body and length, but other than adding to the beers substance, the chocolate doesn’t make much of an impression: I had feared something Nesquicky, but it’s actually very subtle. It doesn’t even finish sweet; instead it leaves you with a little peppery bite from the addition of ancho chillies.

I was prepared to hate this stuff, but I’d be very happy to drink a few more bottles.

(which is handy, because it’s hardly going to fly off the shelves)

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Gettin’ Jaggy With It.

I think we are in broad agreement that the 21st century has had a pretty rough first couple of decades. Our institutions, finances, social fabric and bodies have all aged terribly these last few years. But few things have changed quite like the public perception of cider has.
When I was a child “cider” meant either the litre bottle of White Lightning you smuggled into a sixth form party, or the tart, flat, golden drink that I will forever associate with a beer garden in blazing sunshine. Since then, the big branded macro ciders, have fallen in and out of favour a few times and high strength, white cider has nearly been killed off by minimum pricing legislation. Meanwhile, although mass-market “fruit ciders” (in reality, alcopops) are no way near as popular as they once were, they have proven mightily resilient and I suppose we’ll have to accept they’ll always be with us. At the other end of the scale, the past year has seen an explosion in the availability of single varietal and mixed fermentation “craft” (*sigh*) ciders.
This is all a long-winded way of saying that (other than an alcoholic drink derived from fermented orchard fruit) there’s little agreement about what cider actually is.

Except for what’s in my glass right now. that’s definitely cider with a capital C. It couldn’t be more cidery if it came in a hollowed out apple whilst singing the Wurzels.
This is the Jaggy Thistle by Thistly Cross, the first attempt (to the best of my knowledge) at a Scottish scrumpy in the traditional West Country style. It’s been available for a couple of years, but shamefully I’m only just getting around to sampling it.
It pours flat, but with a surprisingly clear, brilliant gold colour for a scrumpy that has been unfiltered, unpasteurised and cask conditioned. The nose is rich, sweet and boozy, with aromas of baked apple, raisin, balsa wood and PVA glue. The palate is sharp, dry and acidic with some earthy, funky flavours and a squirt of lemon. The finish is long with lots of warming alcohol and a proper dollop of apple juice
It’s a stronger, drier and far more grown drink than the standard Thistly Cross cider and isn’t widely available. This is partly due to the fact that it’s made only with local, East Lothian apples, with no bulk juice and partly due to it not being a particularly popular style.
Sadly, they have never made enough of the stuff to bottle it themselves. It’s occasionally available at the better pubs in town, but maybe the better option would be to come to us, where we will fill your bottle or “growler” for the more than reasonable price of £1.85/50cls . (Given that it comes in at 7.4% abv, this is as cheap as we’re allowed to sell it)

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I ♥ The Eighties

Way back in the mists of time, when what is now the Scottish Parliament was an abandoned brewery and pubs still reeked of baccy, I was a fresh-faced art student determined to drink my way around Edinburgh in as cost effective a fashion as possible.
Back then, spending an evening in the pub was actually a reasonably cheap night out and drinking options were far more limited than today, so when you found a beer that worked for you, chances are you would be drinking a whole lot more of it before kicking out time.
Most pubs would offer Deuchars, Guinness, Belhaven Best, a range of interchangeable lagers and if you were lucky an eighty shilling.
I would tend to gravitate towards the 80/- (possibly because it was always among the cheapest offerings at the bar) and nine times out of ten this would mean a pint of Caley.
Sadly, Caledonian Eighty Shilling has since rebranded itself as “Edinburgh Castle” and is nowhere near as ubiquitous as it was twenty years ago. Malty, session strength beers, with only a delicate hop character are far from fashionable these days: To my shame, there have been times when a customer has asked for something of that ilk and I’ve had nothing to offer among the several hundred beers in the shop.
Thank heavens then for Dalkeith’s very own Crossborders brewery who are keeping the malty flame alive, with their own 80/-, The Heavy.
Over Christmas the Heavy was promoted to part of Crossborders core range, a move which should see it available at a lot more pubs and offies in 2019.
It’s a very attractive beer; A deep, burnished, amber red colour with a proper head of delicate off-white foam. Rather fruity on the nose, with aromas of dried peel, quince, earl grey and ginger nuts. The palate is medium weight, clean and superbly balanced; With sweet caramel notes, mild bitterness and a definite (but not at all unpleasant) metallic zing of acidity on the finish.
At a smidgen over 4% it is eminently boshable and a 33cl tin should set you back about £2.50.
I’m writing this on Burns night and I can attest that a mild, fruity beer like this is precisely what is needed to wash down a salty, fatty dish like haggis (handy that)

Cheers!

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