Real Olives & Wine: The perfect pairings

Our resident wine expert, Grant Hedley, had the pleasure of being joined by olive-heads Charlie Chambers and Karin Andersson from The Real Olive Company for an evening of wine and olive tasting. At a time of year when the sun is shining (or supposed to be), we are enjoying picnics, lunches and dinners with families and friends, wine and olives are a perfect addition to all of these. We selected three of our delicious Italian wines to go with three, tasty and organic olive blends selected by The Real Olive Company.

If you couldn’t join us on the evening, we’ve included the carefully selected wine and olive pairings below as well as a recording from the evening so you can order the products to enjoy the tasting in your own time.

The Pairings

Nocellara del Belice Olives is paired with our Sentiero dei Pini Pinot Grigio, La Verde Olives with Garlic & Basil is paired with our Vesuvium Greco di Tufo and lastly we paired Siciliana Olives with Garlic, Peppers & Mustard Seeds with the excellent Villa dei Ladri

It’s time for you to sit back, pour a glass of wine, put your olives in a dish and enjoy.

A virtual evening in Vineyards and Olive Groves

You’re invited to an exciting virtual wine and olive tasting event on the 6th August, with our friends at The Real Olive Company. I’ll be joined by olive-heads Charlie Chambers and Karin Andersson, who are as passionate and informed about olives as we are about wines!

I’ve picked out some real Italian gems from our cellars and found the perfect pairing from The Real Olive Company’s delicious selection. With Charlie and Karin’s help of course!

It makes perfect sense to follow one of my favourite food matching principles: ‘what grows together, goes together’ and pair these delicious olives with a few of our favourite Italian wines. Plus, at a time of the year when the sun is shining and we are enjoying picnics, lunches and dinners with our families and friends, olives are the perfect addition to any meal.

So let us whisk you off for a mouth-watering hour, to the land of sunshine, vineyards and olive groves to taste some fabulous wines and delectable olives.

Here are the Pairings I have picked: Nocellara del Belice olives will be paired with our Sentiero dei Pini Pinot Grigio, La Verde Olives with Garlic & Basil will be paired with our Vesuvium Greco di Tufo and lastly we’ll be pairing Siciliana Olives with Garlic, Peppers & Mustard Seeds with the excellent Villa dei Ladri.

I hope to see you there.

Best wishes,

Grant, Wine Expert

Thursday 6th August 7pm

An evening of top Rioja with Tony Laithwaite

Javier Murúa and his dad Julián sold most of their wines locally before Tony met them – and fell head over heels for their wines. Today this father-and-son team are our No.1 Rioja producers.

Join Javier and Tony and share in a glass or two as they taste through the bestselling Barón de Barbón red and white. See their recorded chat from Wednesday 3rd June.

Bring a bottle!

Wine Live with Will Lyons: Food & Wine Matching

Last week, Sunday Times Wine Club Vice President Will Lyons, took to our Facebook page in another exciting live Q&A as part of the Wine Live with Will Lyons series. In the live, he answered questions from our viewers. This week, it was all about food and wine matches.

In case you couldn’t join us on the night, here’s what you missed…

You can purchase the wines Will enjoyed during the live to try yourself below:

Oliver Zeter Riesling 2018

Les Hauts de Morin-Langaran Picpoul de Pinet 2019

Stay up to date with all upcoming virtual events on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

Also on the blog:

Wine Live with Will Lyons and Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl

Will Lyons, The Sunday Times Wine Club Vice-President, was joined by Monika Schmid from Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl family winery live on our Facebook page from Germany in the latest episode of Wine Live with Will Lyons.

They caught up on how things have been in the vineyards and winery in recent weeks, life in confinement and also sipped some of the delicious wine produced by Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl. If you couldn’t join Will and Monika on Tuesday, pour yourself a glass of something nice and catch up on the 25-minute live stream below.

Look out on The Sunday Times Wine Club Facebook and Instagram pages for upcoming virtual events, Q&A’s and live interviews with Will Lyons and winemakers across the globe.

Stay safe and drink responsibly.

Wine Live with Will Lyons and Jean-Marc Sauboua

This week, Will Lyons was virtually joined by Haut-Brion trained winemaker Jean-Marc Sauboua, live from the vineyards in Bordeaux. Having a chat and general catch up on how things have been going with the growing season so far, plus tasting some delicious wines too.

In case you couldn’t join us on Tuesday night, here’s what they spoke about.

We do hope that you can join us in Wine Live with Will Lyons next Tuesday evening on Facebook.

Keep well and stay safe.

No half measures: why I choose to savour wine rather than abstain

Lent is upon us. A time for reflection, abstinence and preparations for the celebration of Easter.

I don’t know about you but I’m not too fond of giving up anything, let alone wine, or beer for that matter. All things in moderation or not so moderate, depending on your mood is my preference.

When I first started writing about wine, I used to give up alcohol in February on the advice of my first boss, “the shortest month,” he would say. “But beware of the leap years!” These days my tasting schedule is such that I simply can’t find the time for a month without wine and besides I enjoy a glass of wine with my evening meal, who doesn’t? But herein lies my point ‘a glass’ or maybe two.

Since January I have been keeping a watchful eye on how much I consume, nothing drastic just a gentle observation on portion sizes and how many glasses of wine I like to enjoy. I bought a little measuring jug and some weighing scales and as if by magic eight weeks in I’m nearly a stone lighter!

Six glasses in one bottle

One of the new habits I have enjoyed is pouring out a 100ml glass of wine to go with my evening meal. I have come to love this measure, it’s enough to give you a proper taste and experience of the wine you are serving, but it’s not enough to distract from your late evening activities whether that is catching up on writing, emailing friends or whatever. Of course, if you want a second glass or a third by all means pour it!

I recently wrote a column for The Sunday Times on half bottles and wrote that you can get 6 ‘generous’ glasses from a full bottle of wine and four ‘decent’ glasses from a half bottle of wine. This provoked a fair bit of feedback with some enthusiastic imbibers vehemently disagreeing.

A few days after the column was published a story appeared in The Times with the revelation that if you want to cut back on alcohol use smaller glasses. According to researchers from the University of Cambridge when restauranteurs placed 370ml glasses on the table, rather than 250ml, wine lovers drank 17% more!

Two glasses of red wine on a table with the beach in the background
There’s no need to fill those large glasses to the top

I was asked about it on Matthew Wright’s Talkradio ‘Wine Down Friday’ segment which you can listen to here. Over  a glass of the club’s excellent Santo Patrono from Bolivia I explained I’m all in favour of large glasses but small measures.

As an aside, preferably the wine glass should be made from very thin glass which doesn’t interfere with one’s enjoyment of the wine, Zalto and Riedel are my choice at home.

The traditional 125ml is a much-maligned serving of wine and shouldn’t be sniffed at. To prove my point at a recent dinner I asked the Sommelier to pour out 125ml in a large Zalto Bordeaux glass, my guests were quite surprised just how much it was. Like listening to a beautiful piece of music or faced with a wonderful natural landscape great wine can intoxicate both the senses and be an intoxicant. It is savouring the former which we should try and achieve in Lent. Far better than abstinence which makes it a very long time to Easter indeed!

P.S. I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter? Do you agree? What size do you feel is the ideal pour? Post a comment below and I shall reply.

Will Lyons

Sunday Times Wine Club Vice-President

Also on the blog

Join Will Lyons for an evening of Rothschild wines

For those fortunate enough to have made the journey from Beirut, crossing Mount Lebanon and the fertile soils of the Beqaa valley, the Temple of Bacchus is one of the most extraordinary and impressive temples of the Ancient world.

It’s the scale that hits you first, more than 100 feet rising above the ruins of Baalbeck. Constructed by the Romans, around the time of Nero, in the 1st century AD, walking underneath its ancient stone columns one cannot fail to be humbled by the sheer scale of this celebrated sanctuary to the God of Wine.

There are many ways in which you can appreciate the complex world of wine: geography, science, viticulture even the intricacies of taste. But history has always been close to my heart and it is through this particular lens that I gain my most enjoyment. And in wine there is a lot of it.

Will Lyons will host an evening of Rothschild Wine at Waddesdon Manor
The Waddesdon Manor cellar where Will Lyons will host an evening of Rothschild wines

It was the celebrated American wine writer, Matt Kramer, who pointed out earlier this year at the Sauvignon Blanc Symposium in Marlborough, that in the context of ‘vinous history’ New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is barely a day old. He’s right. Leaving aside the birth of commercial wine production in New Zealand (which stretches back around 40 years) and looking to some of the first plantings in the Victorian era in the early 1800s even this pales when placed aside the vineyards of Burgundy, the Rhône valley and Bordeaux. Regions which can chronicle their history in terms of centuries as opposed to decades.

Wine, history and the Rothschild’s

It is a little of this history that I would like to share with you at Waddesdon Manor. In October the club will be hosting a very special evening in the cellars of Waddesdon, a nineteenth century estate surrounded by history and home to one of the largest collections of Rothschild wines outside of France.

As wine dynasties go Rothschild is almost as impressive as the ancient sand coloured columns of the Temple of Bacchus. Boasting not just one but two Bordeaux First Growths in Châteaux Lafite and Mouton-Rothschild the dynasty also owns properties in Argentina and Chile which we will be tasting alongside their more famous cousins from France.

Will Lyons will host an evening of Rothschild Wine at Waddesdon Manor
Joana Vasconceleos created these candlesticks with bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild

To explain the wines we’ll be joined by Rothschild wine expert, Peter Tompkins, who will lead us on a tasting of eight different examples before we ascend upstairs for an autumnal three-course dinner with ingredients sourced from the estate.

Of course there will also be time to explore the grounds and gardens; home to two spectacular giant candlesticks made by Joana Vasconceleos with bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild. And there is even an exclusive opportunity to see the first major exhibition of British painter Eliot Hodgkin. Then there are the cellars themselves where there is an eighteenth-century figure of Bacchus himself – the God of Wine. I do hope you can come and join us. It should be a magical evening.

An evening of Rothschild wine on Saturday 12th October

Arrive at Waddesdon Manor from 6pm to enjoy the gardens, the Eliot Hodgkin exhibition and visit the aviary.

At 7pm enjoy a tasting in the Wine Cellars where Peter Tompkins (Rothschild Wine specialist) and Will Lyons will introduce a selection of eight Rothschild wines, followed by a three-course dinner served in the Manor Restaurant which will be inspired by autumn produce from Waddesdon Estate and Eythrope Garden. Rothschild Wines will be specially selected to suit each course during dinner.

For an additional fee hotel accommodation is available at Five Arrows Hotel, on Waddesdon Estate.

Waddesdon’s wine shop, stocking more than 129 Rothschild lines will be open and all sales on the night will be discounted by 10%.

See full details and book your tickets here.

Also on the blog

So you want to learn about wine?

It doesn’t matter where you are along the wine route there is always the opportunity to learn more. I’ve been tasting wine for more than 20 years and I’m still learning.

Part of the attraction of wine is that it can be drunk for both pleasure and conviviality, as part of a gathering of friends or family, or it can be gustatory. The focus of an intellectual discussion on its merits or faults. I happen to prefer the former but that’s probably because the day job requires me to don my analytical hat and form an informed opinion on a particular wine or wines. But knowledge is power and the more you taste, the more natural it is to want to learn more.

Will Lyons, Vice-President of Sunday Times Wine Club
Will Lyons, Vice-President of Sunday Times Wine Club

But where to start? Believe it or not my journey began in my last year at school where (going on 18) we had a particularly enthusiastic Geography master who taught us the early principles of wine tasting. Looking back it was a surprisingly serious course. But you don’t have to begin so early!

The obvious place to begin is with book learning, which will teach you the basics. The World Atlas of Wine now co-written by our President Hugh Johnson with Jancis Robinson will provide a solid foundation and clear grasp of where most of the world’s wines come from. I learned to taste through the lens of the classic wine regions of France and Europe. This gave me a good understanding of the benchmark styles that have now become internationally successful. But I wouldn’t say that was the right or wrong way. If you mastered the regions and styles of Australia that would be a fitting start.

Taste, taste, taste

The key is to develop your palate and taste, taste, taste. By this I mean learn to understand what you like and learn to understand the different taste and flavours of the major wine producing regions and grape varieties. There are shortcuts but it can be a long journey. I like to use the analogy of an old record shop, browsing through the racks of CDs and vinyls. If you haven’t listened to Mozart or Beethoven, the Beatles or The Rolling Stones you have no idea what they sound like, until you buy an album, take it home and play it. It is the same with wine. If you want to understand the difference between Bordeaux and Burgundy or Margaux and Pauillac you’ll need to buy a bottle to taste as well as read the textbooks.

In Britain, we are really spoilt for choice. London is home to the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. Their courses offer a very good technical basis. I completed my WSET exams in a cold lecture hall in Edinburgh when I was at University. It’s quite an academic approach, and can lead onto the Master of Wine – a self taught course for the fully committed.

Also on the blog

But for me wine is so much more than about the technicalities. It’s always nice to learn about what’s in the bottle, how it is made and what makes a good vintage. But I want to share some of the magic of the wine regions I have been luckily enough to visit. History, food, travel tips and the story behind the bottle always make their way into any of my wine tastings. Before that though I always teach people how to taste and develop their palate. The aim is to give you enough confidence to trust what you like and form your own opinion.

Before long you’ll be challenging my preconceptions and tasting like a professional. But don’t get too confident as, when it comes to wine we’re learning all the time.

Just keep on tasting!
Just keep on tasting!

Immerse yourself in the world of wine and join Sunday Times Wine Columnist and Vice President of The Sunday Times Wine Club, Will Lyons, as he shares his expert knowledge in his new evening and one-day wine masterclasses: thetimes.co.uk/winemasterclasses

The best photos from The Vintage Festival 2019

Thousands of guests came to join us at The Vintage Festival this year, trying hundreds of wines from around the world.

We had great fun celebrating with our customers, producers and staff, at what was the 40th event since it was first was launched back in 1980.

Hosts Tony Laithwaite, Hugh Johnson, Oz Clarke and Will Lyons loved meetings our guests and talking to them about their favourite wines when they joined us at Old Billingsgate on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May.

Sunday Times wine columnist Will led tasting sessions focusing on The Rhône, Tuscany, New Zealand and Argentina, while cheesemongers from Paxton & Whitfield ran classes on how to pair wine with cheese.

What’s more, we launched the first ever Vintage Festival Wine Awards to give guests a glimpse of the festival highlights, with Oz leading tours around the festival to introduce our customers to the winemakers behind the trophy winners.

Customers also voted for their favourite wines, crowning Harrow & Hope Blanc de Noirs 2013, Karl May Riesling Gutswein Trocken 2017, Riechsrat Von Buhl Riesling Brut Sekt 2016 and Royal Tokaji Blue Label 5 Puttonyos 2013 the Wines of the Show over the weekend.

Above are just a few of our favourite photos from the two days, but we’d love to see yours.

You can follow us on Facebook at The Sunday Times Wine Club or on Instagram by searching @sundaytimeswineclub to share your pictures with us, or use the #VintFest19 hashtag when you post them.

To find out about more events in the future go to www.sundaytimeswineclub.co.uk/events.

Also on the blog: