Hello Wine!

 

Whether it is viewed as an ancient pagan feast or gaudy American import, I’m sure I’m not alone in finding Halloween a deeply embarassing festival. Despite having two children who inisist I construct elaborate Minecraft-themed costumes and working in an industry where I have to grudgingly serve the occasional party goer, I usually manage to avoid the worst of the late October nonsense.

However, this year I feel we should have a wee Halloween bash, primarily because Heather is going to spend the the next week in Romania on a wee buying trip. Which means that she’ll be able to tell us all about the differences between Fetească Albă and Tămâioasă Românească . At the moment we only have half a dozen different Romanian wines, but they are among our best sellers and uniformally brilliant. We’ve got a bunch more arriving in the next few days and I have no idea what Heather will manage to bring back with her, but you can be sure we will have enough of a range to host a bloody good dinner.

So join us at the Walnut on the last Sunday of October for an evening of SpoOOOoky wine, excellent food and moderately informed chat.

Tickets are £35, which gets you two courses, seven wines and some cheese.

Either pop into the shop, or click HERE to purchase yours.

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GET YER TEUTON!

 

 

When I started in the booze trade back in the mid-nineties, there was a truism that said that there were “Wine Nations & Beer Nations; but there was nowhere that managed to master both”

 

Utter bollocks, even back then and If there is one shining example of just how wrong it is, surely it’s Germany.

German booze might lack the variety of it’s neighbours, but the things Germany produces are honed to absolute perfection. Indisputably the finest Riesling in the world all comes from Germany, some of it sweet- yes, but a lot of the younger outfits are producing, poised, mineral, zesty whites as dry as a chablis.

Fancy, (maybe overpriced?) tinned, experimental beers have largely passed Germany by, instead German brewers continue to focus on producing the BEST DAMN BEER IN THE WORLD (don’t @me)

So come join us in The Walnut at the end of September for an evening of all things Germanic: Yes, there will be Riesling, but also Laaager, Spatburgunder, Rauchbier, Dopplebock and some stuff we haven’t finalised yet.

Tickets cost £35 for two courses & cheese alongside four wines and three beers.

And are available in the shop or this button HERE

 

 

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COME ALONG, KIDDIE WINKIES!

 

Okay, I’m having trouble writing this and I think you guys might have trouble reading it, but have you seen the evil shit that has been going down over in the States?

Godwin’s law has been well and truly shafted and “The West” is currently being led by a corrupt, senile, fascist, paedophile* who makes Mussolini look like Gladstone. The most remarkable thing about the current inhabitant of the White House is his ability to find ever lower depths to sink to.

In early July it became apparent that the White House was not only separating children from their parents (at the Southern border, natch) but it was also systematically destroying their papers and selling “orphans” through profit driven Christian evangelical agencies run by relatives of the administration.

If this isn’t your line in the sand, then I really don’t know what to say to you. Every human impulse is to reach out and try to alleviate some of the suffering caused by this confederacy of twunts. If (like myself) you want to help, but can only face doing the bare minimum, how about cracking open a bottle of our latest beer?

The Childcatcher was brewed for us by our friends at Campervan Brewing in Leith and Fallen Brewing in Stirling.

It’s bloody good beer (we would say that) the tins are full of a robust, malty, nutty foamy sweet golden ale and the bottles contain a light, sessionable IPA

All profits on the sale of these beers go to @RAICESTEXAS . I was tempted to donate the money to UK based charities, (after all we’re guilty of similar crimes, if not on the same scale)

But after a few moments thinking about it I thought it best to throw the cash towards the people who are dealing with these crimes over the pond. @RAICESTEXAS are currently arranging legal representation for the children and toddlers (!) currently being dragged before immigration courts.

We’ve had a bit of a break from doing these fundraising beers, partly because the way things are headed it sometime feels like arseing around with novelty beers seems somewhat pathetic given what we’re up against. But, hiding your head in your hands is exactly how this sort of evil manages to establish itself as the new norm. I can’t claim any credit for the resulting beer, because I was messing around in Denmark when it was all coming together, so can I take this opportunity to thank my colleague Heather for sorting it all out, Stan at Stink Designs for providing a label and the guys at Fallen and Campervan for brewing some awesome beer.

The beer is being launched on the 12th July to coincide with his latest visit to Scotland. It costs £3/33cl and is available through The Beer Hive in Cannonmills, Beer Zoo in Portobello and Cornelius on Easter Road.

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ARGENTINA YOUR FACE!

 

If you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve drunk a fair bit of Malbec.

The big, brambly, spice-bomb grape has cultivated quite a following over the last few years and with good reason: Boozy, indulgent, packed with character, but not too tannic, for many people it has become a “default” wine; The easy choice, when you’re shopping on a budget and you need to make an impression.

It’s popularity has totally overshadowed the rest of Argentina’s output, which is bit of a shame becuase it’s a BIG country, with some pretty awesome (and varied) wines.

Why not spend a boozy summer evening with us at The Walnut and taste a bunch of the very best Argentina has to offer?

We’ve got a bunch of goodies lined up from Domaine Bousquet Argentina’s top organic winery.

Crunchy Bordeaux blends (and Malbec)

Delicate Provencal rose (and Malbec)

Old-school, oaky Chardonnay (and Malbec)

Pungent, burgundy-style Pinot (and Malbec)

Boozy fortifieds (and Malbec)

Tickets cost £35 and for that you get seven wines, two courses and cheese.

Tickets are available HERE or in the shop

Things kick of at 7.30pm on Sunday 5th August

(maybe you can catch some Fringe nonsense afterwards)

HASTA LUEGO GRINGOS!

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Edinburgh Beer Week.

 Chances are, you’re well aware of Edinburgh Beer Week. There are loads of events and tastings going on in town throughout the last week of May and of course, we’ll be getting in on the action. We are delighted to be hosting the guys from the Two Roads brewery.

Join us from 5pm on Thursday 24th May as we welcome Dan and Ryan (freshly air freighted from Connecticut) for a tasting through Worker’s Comp, Lil Heaven, Zero 2 Sixty, and the latest in the Tanker Truck series: Sauvignon Blanc Gose. Ryan has also promised to raid their Vault for some of their cellar aged goodies too. Any donations to the Cornelius Food Bank drive will be rewarded with a can of Lil Heaven.

We will also be upping our stocks of Two Roads beer in preparation for this evening, so expect to see some beer tweets as new lines start arriving next week.

The tasting is free to everyone (as long as you behave) and will probably last until 5pm (or until Dan & Ryan are bored of my jokes)

 

Be seeing you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MAY WE HAVE YOUR ATTENTION.

Back in the closing weeks of 2017, at the instigation of Heather, we started collecting donations for the local food bank. To say we were inundated with donations would be putting it mildly: the generosity of our regulars was gobsmacking. We managed to fill several carloads (probably totalling at least two pallets worth) of food and necessities for redistribution to Leith folk in need of a bit of assistance over the festive period. If you donated yourself thank you, you’re a bloody star.

Although, we have carried on accepting goods, it is fair to say that donations have dried up to a trickle. This is totally understandable; the weather is a bit warmer, the festive spirit is long gone and the plight of those going through a rough patch can seem a little bit less urgent. Sadly though, people are still struggling to make ends meet and it’s this time of year that charities have to shout to get your attention.

To give the food bank a boost, we’ve decided to resort to bribery. During May and June, if you bring to the shop any boxed donation* from this list.

  • Cereal
  • Soup
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Pasta sauce
  • Lentils, beans and pulses
  • Tinned meat
  • Tinned vegetables
  • Tea/coffee
  • Tinned fruit
  • Biscuits
  • UHT milk
  • Fruit juice
  • Toiletries – deodorant, toilet paper, shower gel, shaving gel, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, tooth paste, hand wipes
  • Household items – laundry liquid detergent, laundry powder, washing up liquid
  • Feminine products – sanitary towels and tampons
  • Baby supplies – nappies, baby wipes and baby food.

Then we will reward you with a bottle or tin of FREE BEER.

And not skunky, out of date shelf turds, either, just good beer (of our choice) We’ve put a few cases aside for this purpose already and we’ve already been offered a slab from our Edinburgh Beer Week guests. (more on them later this afternoon)

Thanks for listening.

 

*We ask that donations are in-date, unopened and well packaged, but otherwise, feel free to abuse this idea. If you want to swap us a single bogroll for a bottle of beer, then we will honour it, but you will burn in a pee-pee soaked heck hole for all eternity.

 

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GRENACHE!

 

We love Grenache.

Despite being a cheap workmanlike grape, it somehow manages to be the backbone of some of the world finest wine. It’s spiritual home is the Lower Rhone ( or maybe Northern Spain ) but it’s grown with great success all over the world. Being soft in tannin, high in booze and ( relatively ) easy to grow.

So why dont you join us on Sunday 24th June, for an evening dedicated to all things Grenache?

Our in-house expert ( Heather ) will select seven different awesome wines that showcase different facets of this wonderful grape ( and it’s cousins Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris )

As ever, food will be provided by the ever-reliable Walnut.

Tickets will set you back 35 quid for two courses and cheese. with 7 glasses of red, white, sweet (and possibly rose)

Get your mitts on them HERE!

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Origin Unknown

Get your nanoviolins at the ready, because I am going to open this piece with a long gestating compliant on behalf of the booze retail community.

It goes without saying, that when deciding what to fill our shelves with, we sample the wares of new and unfamiliar breweries. Thankfully, the breweries are keen to help us out with this and there are usually a few new bottles kicking around the office

Sadly though, sometimes these samples are unsolicited and occasionally awful. (when this occurs, they usually end up as raffle prizes or down the sink) This makes me feel like an ungrateful heel, but there’s no way we can stock every brewery that approaches us like this.

So I barely raised an eyebrow, when I came into work one day to find a case of assorted beers from a brewery that I was totally unfamiliar with.

The beer came from a brewery called Farm Yard Ales, who hailed from…, where exactly?

The bottles and tins had no details about their origins at all, which was unusual (and of dubious legality) and as far as Googling goes, calling your company “Farm Yard Ales” is only slightly better than calling it “The Real Ale Company” or “Craft Beer Co”.

In very small print on the back label, it did say “from the farmyard”

: real helpful guys.

After a good twenty minutes of internet browsing, I finally ascertained that Farm Yard Ales are based in Lancashire and are yet to break out into the wider UK.

The reason why I was keen to find out where they came from, is because despite my reservations, the beer was actually, rather excellent (if not exactly groundbreaking).

Top of their range is a lovely, crisp, sessionable, tinned pilsner and a very old school, bottled best bitter.

The bitter was a particularly good example of the style: Not too effervescent or boozy, nicely balanced with a chewy, nutty, malted character and a clean finish. I could easily imagine myself sinking a few pints of it over the course of an evening.

So, I’m going to endeavour to get some of these beers up to Edinburgh and by the time this sees print they should be gracing our shelves. Its good beer and it’s well priced.

I just wish they were a bit clearer about where it comes from.

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Grin and Bear It

 

When I was first enlisted into the army of Bacchus, ( over a quarter of a century ago now- bloody hell! ) my recruiting sergeant came in the form of a pork pie hat wearing, brown bear called George

It was the pre-Loaded era, and when not swaggering about as and early exemplar of what came to be known as lad culture, the bear was the mascot of Hofmeister- a cheap macro lager that was briefly popular in the late eighties and early nineties.

Hofmeister, like most commercial lager, could very broadly be defined as a Munich helles; – light, gassy and with less bitterness than a pilsner. Although it has been recently revived as a true Bavarian beer, originally it was as British as Bullseye. The bear has long been a symbol of German Beer (although confusingly, it is more readily associated with Berlin rather than Munich) and presumably that is how George came about (ad agencies do, occasionally think these things through)

I was put in this nostalgic frame of mind whist downing a couple of cans of my current favourite go-to pils The Dancing Bear by Magic Rock Brewing in Huddersfield. There is always at least a can or two of this sitting in the back of my fridge. It is well-priced, relatively easy to get hold of and I do appreciate a decent laaaager occasionally.

It pours a bright, clear gold, throws a slight, but attractive head of creamy bubbles. The nose has a slightly piney, resinous aroma as well as the more expected shortbread and lemon. The palate has a rather nice, creamy and mellow texture and a crisp, light, finish.

To be honest, there’s not much more I can say about it, it’s just a decent lager and unless you’re a Mormon, you know exactly what to expect; – It’s just cleaner, fresher and better made than most. I’ve had better lagers, but not at anything like this price.

I’ve recently started to eschew all the fancy-pant kettle sours and imperial pastry stouts and began evaluating breweries by how well they can do the basics.

Judged by the amount of Dancing Bear I drink, Magic Rock are very talented outfit indee

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Don’t have Lao Khao, man.

A couple of weeks ago a good friend and colleague returned from a family holiday in Thailand bearing gifts- a couple of innocuous looking bottles of Thai booze. I naively assumed they would just be your bog-standard domestic lager in a fancy foreign bottle, but I was very wrong.

Once in the glass, it was immediately apparent that the still, brilliantly clear, slightly viscous liquid was a spirit of some kind. This was my first (and hopefully last) experience of Lao Khao.

This is the justly feared and celebrated rice-spirit of Thailand and the nearest thing the country has to a national drink. Distilled from sticky rice and broadly between 35-55% abv, it has much in common with other semi-legal moonshines, but it has a slight sweetness to the palate and a strange oily-creamy lactose edge to the finish. To be honest, it’s far from the worst thing to reach my tongue- but the smell!

It’s pungent stuff, the immediate hit is of turpentine with an off-putting undernote of garage forecourt. Maybe, if I was being generous, I would say there was a very slight hint of coconut. The palate burns and offers little flavour to hide the fact that your drinking what is basically neat alcohol. When compared with say, a Polish rectified spirit it is, as the young people say, Rough AF.

I had a bunch of mates help me polish off a wee bottle and even then my hangover was one of those dentist drill & waltzer combos.

So, whilst I was very grateful to my friend for letting me experience the pleasures of Lao Khao first hand – I don’t think I can really recommend it to anyone else.

Key to Lao Khao’s popularity is price, a 33cl bottle will set you back a handful of baht- about the same as the cheapest available lager. This is mostly because beer production in Thailand is over-regulated and over-taxed. But whatever the reason, the cheapest available alcohol is also the most potent.

If, heaven forbid, a similar situation were to arise in Scotland, it would be like a bottle of vodka being the same price as a tin of Tennants and it’s easy enough to imagine the social and economic implications of that.

So if anyone offers you a bottle of Lao Khao all I can suggest is that you make like Zammo and just say no.

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