Category Archives: Ramblings and Rants

How to source wine for a UK charity event

Some thoughts on sourcing wine for charity, and this is by no means a definitive guide. Over the years, we’ve donated the wine for gala dinners, concert receptions, race evenings, lavish lunches, auction prizes – all sorts of things. Equally, we’ve had to turn down a lot of requests, and one of the main reasons (other than giving away precious stock) is the additional cost on top of the wine.

As we’ll see, a single case of 12 bottles of wine, with UK duty, shipping and delivery – and VAT on all those – costs £50, before counting the cost of the wine itself. Sparkling wine costs £8 a case more in extra duty. The donor therefore has to be pretty generous to stump up for the wine, with duty and delivery included, so it can make sense to split the bill: find a benefactor who will pay for the add-on part, and someone else to donate the wine. Keep reading

Wine for “the world’s toughest triathlon”

We all receive requests, from time to time, to support someone we know who’s putting themselves out to raise money for charity. Yet when some long standing customers, Bruce and Bridget Montgomery, asked us to support their son by donating the wine for a charity ball in London, we were blown away by what he’d set out to do. And now Paddy Montgomery, with his accomplice Seamus Crawford, has just completed the world’s toughest ‘triathlon’ by rowing across the Atlantic – 3000 miles from the Canaries to Antigua – braving waves of 40-50 feet and winds of over 40 knots. The ‘really brutal and horrible’ journey, according to Paddy, took 38 days, 22 hours, which was 2 days below the previous world record.

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Dry January and ‘the other half’

Here’s a suggestion if your other half is off the booze, or if you’re on your own at home and you want to enjoy a bottle of decent wine over two nights. Most of us don’t keep a supply of wine in half bottles, and that’s if you can find them. So you simply pour half the contents of a full bottle into a half bottle and seal the latter with the cork you’ve just pulled – at the start of the evening, not at the end. That’s the important bit.

I’ve had plenty of practice at this during during January over several years. This works primarily for full bottles sealed with a cork – there’s no need to do this with our screw-capped white, for example, as that will stay pretty fresh in the fridge for a few days once opened, with the cap back on.

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A freeze on duty – and why UK wine drinkers are paying enough

Within a week of the Budget we’re usually wincing at the new, higher rates of duty being charged on our wine as it leaves our Bonded warehouse near London to be delivered to customers. With just one exception in the last 15 years (in 2015, just before, ahem, the 2015 General Election), duty on wine has always gone up. So it’s a welcome relief that Philip Hammond decided to freeze the duty on wine in his Autumn Budget. Here are some insights and graphics as to why wine drinkers in the UK have been hit hard enough already.

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Our trip to Ypres for the Centenary

We made the trip to Ypres for the ceremony to commemorate the centenary of the death of Noel Chavasse, of the Royal Army Medical Corps and a double VC, on 4 August. I also wrote a number of fairly long posts about cousin Noel just before we made the journey, and on the way up (it’s 1000kms from Bordeaux), and soon after we returned. Once again, many thanks to the scores of people who got in touch. Here is a list of the articles and links in one place, as much for my reference as anyone else’s. Keep reading