Bonarda: it isn’t Malbec

Mairena labelIntroducing Bonarda

Around fifteen years ago I wrote a feature called something like ‘red grapes of Bordeaux at home and abroad’. In it I mentioned a grape called Malbec, saying that although many readers wouldn’t be familiar with it, and although it was only a minor constituent in some red Bordeaux, in Argentina* it was the dominant grape. I added that, unlikely though it might seem, some Argentinian wine really was very good, and excellent value. Today neither the description nor the reassurance would be necessary; Malbec, especially Argentinian Malbec, is commonplace and deservedly popular. Continue reading

An Interview with Andy Hamilton

andy-hamilton-wpcf_216x216An Interview with Andy Hamilton. I talk to Andy about becoming a writer, free booze, the future of beer and what he plans to write next. My interview for Nudge .


Andy Hamilton is an author, broadcaster, foraging guide and accidental expert—he has an unusual dedication to following wherever his interests take him. Mostly this has been to the areas of alcohol and self-sufficiency, frequently in the overlap between the two. His published books include The Selfsufficient-ish Bible (2009, co-authored with his twin brother), Booze for Free (2011) and Brewing Britain (2013).

Andy contributes to various TV and radio shows on subjects ranging from survival and foraging through to home brewing and gardening. Highlights include telling BBC Radio 2’s Simon Mayo how to make the perfect elderflower champagne and nearly taking the Autumnwatch cast’s teeth out with his toffee apples. His most recent appearance was on BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme (‘Wild Booze’). He regularly blogs about home brewing, beer, foraging and gardening on his website, while you can also follow him on Twitter.

Read the full interview on Nudge

The sweetness of life and the bitter herbs of death: Campari

Campari-sunrise
Campari sunrise. Liking often comes with an epiphany.

I first tried Campari with soda. We were sitting outside a restaurant, looking at the menu and thinking about lunch. For a moment the taste was fresh, clean, easily enjoyable; then came the choking bitterness. I drank again, just to make sure. Yes, it really was partially decocted from the bitter herbs of death. So I took the remainder down in one, like medicine. I never thought I’d return to it. Continue reading