Portuguese wine diary — chapter 3

In which Old Parn’s vinous travels continue, and he reflects upon the physically demanding business of wine tasting, as well as the peculiar lack of rampant commercialism in the world of Vinho Verde wine

Discarded wine bottles left on three tables, receding out of focus

Tasting wine can be pretty brutal. You might go so far as to call it an extreme sport, in fact. Because if you want to taste wines, you’ve got to be a frigging athlete, my friend. At the peak of physical condition.

Like me.

You’ve got to be supple. Because you’ll be wandering around with a glass in one hand, an increasingly voluminous and unwieldy sheaf of papers in the other and (if you’re a ponce like me) a DSLR camera slung over your shoulder.

So every time you bend your knees to spit out the wine you just tasted (yup), the camera swings round, scythe-like, in a vengeful arc. Hell, this is DEMANDING STUFF.

Day 3 kicked off with a tasting, see — a bunch of producers; us walking round ’em all, swishing and spitting their lovingly vinified creations. It was only thanks to my olympic levels of coordination that I didn’t send glasses and bottles flying all over the shop, thanks to my pendulous camera.

Then there’s the teeth. My chompers, by now, are fucking killing me. Because I am weak. Each time I suck in a breath of cool air, I have a small shudder. And eating a blinkin’ cream cracker is like torture.

(Ever been to a wine tasting? Crackers feature pretty heavily.)

So, yeah, like I said: only the truly resilient need apply.

A tan-coloured cow peers through metal barsQuinta das Arcas

After the collective tasting, we were bundled off to Quinta das Arcas. There were some cows there, which was fabulous (there’s nothing like seeing a dumb beast of a different species to lift my mood. And if you think I’m joking, you’re an idiot.) We had lunch at Quinta das Arcas, which involved sitting at a long, long table and getting more MASSIVE CHUNKS OF MEAT.

Indeed, as a number of my companions remarked, there is something of a disconnect between the recurring spiel of the winemakers we’ve met — that Vinho Verde whites are brilliant, light, fresh wines ideally suited to seafood, salads, simple, clean, light dishes — and the food that we actually get given. Which is, let me say, goddamn delicious. But not exactly what one would call light.

So be it.

Wine-wise — let’s talk about Vinho Verde red wines, shall we? Because these bad boys are not what most people are used to. (And, yes, they are in their element with aforesaid MASSIVE CHUNKS OF MEAT).

A shocking vermillion hue of wine swirled around a glass — inky stains

Typically, they are deepest vermillion in colour — dark, intense. Quinta das Arcas’s Herdade Penedo Gordo was one such example. It’s a fucking massive bundle of spice and chocolate and cherry and coffee — and it clonks you round the palate like a blunderbuss. Like almost all the reds we’ve tasted, it’s served somewhat chilled.

Unlike white Vinho Verde wines, the reds from the region are not typically exported; they’re made to sell to the local market only. It’s not all that hard to see why. Not because they’re terrible — but because, well, who outside the region is going to buy them? They are scary, scary beasts. Stick them alongside some local food and they make sense. But out of context? Pretty damn pant-soiling, to the (mildly incontinent) man on the street, I’d say.

A woman dressed in white gesticulates, describing her vineyard (shown in the background)Quinta da Raza

Waving farewell to the cows (well, I was, anyway. In my head), we then wound our way to the rather beautiful Quinta da Raza. Like many of the wineries we’ve visited, it’s very much a familial kind of deal — we’re greeted and served by the winemakers, who are often members (across several generations, potentially) of the same family.

And although the tasting may have a few trappings of formality (printed tasting notes, that kind of shebang), everything is conducted in the least commercial manner imaginable. In general, it’s rather lovely. But I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t also bizarrely naive: I struggle to imagine many industries that — faced with a roomful of relatively influential German/Swiss buyers (plus one aberrant weirdo from England) — would make so little effort to sculpt, to mould, to influence. Again, I’m not saying this is anything other than lovely. But surely these guys need to be trying to get a consistent message/brand out, rather than leaving it totally to chance? It seems odd to me. Cynical, commercial bastard that I clearly am.

Anyhow, yes. Once again, we tasted an array of zingy, citrusy, fresh white wines. Plenty of which I could gleefully drink a fine old torrent of. Plus an extremely accessible rose (big, fruity hoof to your nose, and a similar whoosh in your mouth) and another scary red.

Quinta de Carapecos

Then our final visit of the day — to cast our eyes across vineyards bathed in beautiful evening sunlight, and snaffle ourselves another tasting and dinner, courtesy of the fine folk of Quinta de Carapecos.

A group of people bathed in warm evening sunlight — backlit with lens flare

Again, some delicious wines, including a lovely, almost indecently accessible rose (jailbait stuff) and — a curio — a sweet wine made from the Espadeiro grape. Which was as honeyed as you like, though its ebullient sweetness did seem to disintegrate somewhat into an unfocused candyfloss at the end.

But, then again, so did my brain, when we finally stumbled our way back to the minibus. Because, boy, was I tired.

I guess that’s pretty much how Roger Bannister must’ve felt on the evening of 6 May 1954.

The Wine Wide Web (pick’n’mix delights)

In which Old Parn presents a dainty assortment of candied (wine-flavoured) treats, lovingly gathered from the vast sweetshop of the world wide web

Numerous tubes of multicoloured sweets, arranged in a rainbow.

Right. First up, what you should do is get off your swollen arse and enter @wine90’s competition to win some doubtless gobcaressingly good Barolo.

(NB this may in fact prove easier if you stay on your swollen arse.)

You’re back. Good.

So, what’s the deal with this post?

Well, I’m tearing my sorrowful (yet somehow disturbingly lustful) eyes away from my own navel and directing them instead at the assorted goodies scattered elsewhere around this big ol’ internet. Think of it as me presenting you with a dainty assortment of candied (wine-flavoured) treats, lovingly gathered for you by my calloused old hands.

So, grab a hold of one of the aforementioned hands (I promise it’s hardly sweaty at all) and I’ll lead you on a brief tour of some good bits of the world wine web from the past week or so…

Avatar of Cambridge Wine BloggerNow, some of you may have observed that we’ve officially passed into the season of summer (even if, like me, you are permafrosted in a barren winter of the soul). Some reckless and bile-inducingly happy humans seem to like to mark this season with the consumption of outdoor food, which they may extravagantly pair with outdoor wine. For these sickening folk, I recommend the Cambridge Wine Blogger’s selection of Six Summer Picnic Wines from Naked (especially as he shares not only my christian name, but also my affection for Naked buy cialis united states Wines’ Picpoul de Pinet).

The Sediment Blog avatarSickening in quite another way, meanwhile, is wine writers’ widespread employment of impoverished, slackjawed synonyms for the simple verb ‘to drink’ — resulting in the kind of overuse of the word ‘quaff’ one would only otherwise encounter in a shit fantasy role-playing game. So say our friends over at the Sediment Blog, in any case, as they energetically skewer this demented quaffing and glugging.

(While you’re there, you should also read their fine review of M&S’s £5 house red.)

Quaffable avatarComing at you from the other side of the great quaff divide, though, is the nicely designed, impeccably tasteful, not remotely RPGish Quaffable — a blog with a focus on wine label and packaging design. Since I’m a designer and a wino, this is a subject close to my heart. Plus, you get to witness a random marsupial being given a deserved kicking.

(FOOKIN’ MARSUPIAL HAD IT COMIN’.)

Grape Escape avatarFinally, with even fewer words to strain your weary mind, there’s @grape_escape’s brilliantly-styled video of Beaujolais hijinks.

Which would make me yearn for a holiday, were I not, as I said, ensconsed like a (way less sexy) version of the White Witch in my own perpetual winter.

(Oh, where’s my Edmund? I’ve got fuckloads of Turkish Delight, believe me. Or fuckloads of Gewurtztraminer, which is pretty much the same thing.)

Photo by Josh Liba (Creative Commons)

Wine reviews vs restaurant reviews

In which Parn muses on the difference between restaurant reviewers and wine reviewers in the public eye

A question.

First, imagine you reviewed restaurants for a living. And when people asked about your job, you said to them, ‘I review restaurants.’

How many of them do you think would reply — with apparent awe — ‘Oh my god. I could never do that. I don’t know anything about restaurants’?

Now imagine the same exchange, but with ‘wines’ in the place of ‘restaurants’.

Five reasons to swear — about wine or anything else

In which Old Parn sets out his Manifesto For A Blogosphere Of Unrestrained Profanity — enumerating the reasons for which swearing in a blog post is not only justified, but positively to be encouraged

A youngish man with scrunched eyes screams an obsenity

1. The Kiddies Are Safe, Thank God!

Let’s get this boring one out of the way first: the only reason I can see for not swearing is that of exposing young children to THE AWFUL, AWFUL, CORROSIVE BADNESS of it. And I don’t think many young children are going to be reading sites like this.

They have better things to do, and I’m jealous of them for it.

I mean, hell, I was a massive fucking loser when I was a child (plus ca change), but even Young Parn wasn’t so much of a loser that he was reading wine blogs.

2. Swear Words Are Indecorous

Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori.

I don’t think the First World War poet Wilfred Owen was massively into decorum. Nor am I. The difference is, of course, that he was writing slightly (if understandably) iffy poetry about a vast human tragedy and I’m writing a slightly (and less understandably) iffy blog about alcoholic grape juice.

But I think we can agree, Wilf and I, nevertheless: decorum is a sham. Decorum is a wretched, weak-bladdered means by which to intimidate the uninitiated, to make the underling fall in line, to belittle the outsider. Decorum is a way to make you feel shame because you don’t know what the words are that the Proper People use. SO JUST SHUT UP, YOU IGNORANT SERF, AND GO STUFF MY CODPIECE.

The youngish Old Parn screams an obscenity once againIf I write that a wine is ‘fucking good’, I reckon that’s actually kind of inclusive. That’s what it’s meant to be, anyway. Because no way does anyone think that ‘fucking good’ is The Proper Way To Describe A Wine. To me, using language like this is like hanging up a big old sign saying, ‘In my book (and on my site) you don’t have to use the ‘correct’ words to express a valid opinion (just so long as you don’t use the word toothsome)’.

I mean, it’s obviously okay — really, truly, more than okay; it is the only thing that fucking matters in the slightest — to describe this wine stuff in any way you damn well please. And, yes, I must grudgingly admit that this even extends to use of the word ‘toothsome’. Even though, I reiterate, NOBODY KNOWS WHAT IT MEANS.

Anyone who relies on decorum is probably also quite stupid. Because decorum is a weapon of the stupid.

3. Swearwords Are Joyous

It feels fucking good to swear. I imagine you’ve tried it yourself. Isn’t it nice?

It’s a verbal ejaculation — yes, thank you, I can use that word — and as such it’s a thing of joy. It’s a trumpet-blast of feeling. It’s life-affirming, it’s defiant. It’s like all the best things about humanity in one deliciously blunt four-letter syllable. A buttery, crumpetty nugget of life.

Surely I can’t be the only one who finds verbal abandonment both fascinating and sexy? No, it turns out I’m not. It’s there — all over the fucking place — in Chaucer, in Shakespeare, in Joyce. Who’d’ve thought?

And if you should come across someone who mocks the revelry of your swearwords, pity them for the arid, joyless puritan they are.

Thus, the kind of fool who’d mockingly quote your swearword back at you (perhaps inserting, with a tin-eared editorial flourish, a double exclamation mark?) is probably also the kind of fool who’d try to insult you by paraphrasing a self-deprecating pun that you actually buy furosemide water tablets wrote yourself, as if that were somehow meant to achieve or prove something other than a chronic dearth of wit.

(My example is hypothetical.)

4. Swearwords Are Anglo-Saxon And Therefore They Are Awesome

Fuck. Cunt. Arse. Shit.

Don’t be afraid, I’m not about to start into that cringe-inducing ‘comedy’ scene from The King’s Speech. [Shudder.] No. But I am going to talk about Englishness.

Or Anglishness.

You see, all the best words in this sexy mongrel language of ours are Anglo-Saxon. Well, okay, maybe I should qualify ‘best’ — I guess I mean ‘most evocative’. Gerard Manley Hopkins, an English poet from back in the 1800s, is good on this: he pretty much refused to use anything but Anglo-Saxon-derived words in his poetry, because words derived from Latin (words like ‘derived’, in fact — or ‘evocative’ or ‘refused’ or ‘exclamation’ or ‘deprived’ or ‘misguided’) have a clinical, cold, precise, impersonal feel to them. They’re somehow more remote, more official, less affecting.

Profile of our hero halfway through exclaiming a word beginning 'sh—'They’re not where the music is, in other words; not where the gut-punch is.

No, the music is in the old, old words. In the fist-clouting, axe-bitten, mud-tramping Anglo-Saxon stuff.

And right up there at the top of the pile are the most defiantly Saxon of them all: the swearwords. Old as the soil and the blood and the rock and the shit of England before it was even England.

Show me an English swearword that’s not Anglo-Saxon and I’ll show you a shit swearword.

5. Swearwords Are Just Words

Yes. I know. I’m wheeking this one at you from left-field. But those words that we call swearwords are still, in fact, just words. The clue is in the ‘word’ part of the word ‘swearword’. If you look carefully, it’s there. At the end, after the ‘swear’ bit. Stop me if I’m going too fast (Jesus, stop me) or using the word ‘word’ in a way that you find confusing, ambiguous and/or offensive.

But — listen! It’s about to get good! — they really are just words. And anyone who’s an adult and relatively well-adjusted surely ought to realise that they’re no more or less legitimate (or indeed remarkable) than any other means of expression. And that pointing them out and making an issue of them causes you to look like a child squealing and giggling at his first potty shit.

What I mean to say, I suppose, is —

A high-contrast photo of a youngish man shouting a swearword at the camera

THEY’RE WORDS FOR PITY’S SAKE JUST WORDS MADE OUT OF LETTERS WHICH ARE JUST SHAPES MADE OUT OF LINES WHICH IMITATE SOUNDS THAT ARE MADE BY OUR MOUTHS JUST LIKE ANY OTHER SOUNDS FOR PITY’S SAKE SOUNDS MADE FROM NOISE WHICH IS MADE BY AIR AND MOVING PARTS OF OUR BODIES WHICH ARE MADE OF SKIN AND BEARDS AND TEETH AND OTHER THINGS AND YES I’LL GRANT YOU SKIN IS SOMETIMES A LITTLE BIT RUDE SOMETIMES BECAUSE SOMETIMES IT SOMETIMES MEANS SEX AND THINGS WHICH ARE EMBARRASSING AND REGRETTABLE AND GIVE ME NO PLEASURE AT ALL TO RAISE OR DISCUSS IN THIS FORUM OR INDEED ANY FORUM BUT STILL IT IS JUST SKIN FOR PITY’S SAKE WHICH IS MADE OF MOLECULES AND ATOMS AND HAIR AND ALSO FOOD AND HOW CAN ANYTHING MADE OUT OF FOOD BE BAD OR EVEN DEBATABLE?

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case.

Wine writing is broken

In which Old Parn launches into a tirade at the leprous state of wine writing in 2011, and the miserable failure of its practitioners, en masse, to inspire, engage or reach out through their words

A splintered pane of glass makes a crescent. In the background, obscure, dark colours

Here’s what’s wrong.

The world of wine writing is insular. It treasures its own elitist terminology. It prizes information before communication. It jealously, gleefully guards its own exclusivity — a hideous, smugly masturbating gatekeeper — crooning and babbling, gollum-like, at its own shrivelled genitals.

(So. That’s the metaphor over with, eh?)

See, it’s my opinion that far too little wine writing reaches out to the uninitiated. Next time you’re reading an article about wine, ask yourself: if I were new to wine — if I knew none of the terminology — would this mean anything to me? Would I find it engaging? Indeed, would I even have read this far in the first place? Far, far too often, the answer is no.

I am staggered — actually, I’m fucking angry — that something so many people love is still largely written about either in patronising and insipid ‘buy this one not this one’ columns, or in exhaustive, geekily inaccessible prose.

Of course there are exceptions. But where is wine writing’s Giles Coren, wine writing’s AA Gill? Hell, where’s wine writing’s Michael fucking Winner, come to that? Or where’s wine writing’s Jeremy Clarkson? I can’t fucking stand Clarkson. But at least I’m not indifferent to him. At least he gets my attention.

And how? Let’s see. Does Clarkson’s weekly column go like this?: ‘A common feature of many cars is air conditioning. [Insert dumbed-down, humourless technical explanation of air conditioning and its origins]. So this week we’re going to look at three cars with air conditioning and write a few tired adjectives about each one, then tell you where you can buy them and what kind of roads you might like to drive them down’

Not it does fucking not.

There are scandalously few people in the mainstream writing about wine with passion and verve. Our public face is timid, introverted, gawky, dull, apologetic. Geeky. But without the leftfield charm.

If I’m a casual wine-drinker, I am not going to be captivated by information about terroir, viticulture, grape varietals. Chances are, I have far better things to do than memorise the French classification system. If I wanted to know this stuff, I’ve got a whole bloody internet to search. Or there are books on this stuff, aren’t there? I don’t need to be educated in tiresome, condescending, uninspired weekly instalments. Not to say that there’s no place for this information. But on its own — as the main feature — it’s both boring and alienating.

And here’s another thing: don’t ever tell me a wine is ‘toothsome’. What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Seriously. Does anyone ever use that word except wine writers? Toothsome? Fuckoffsome.

In fact, allow me to propose a simple mechanism for wine writers. If there’s a simpler alternative to the word you’re using and yet you’ve decided to stick with the more complex, ask yourself the following question: ‘Am I James Joyce?’

If the answer is no, I recommend you spare us and just use the bloody simple one.

(Toothsome?)

You see, when I read about something (by choice, in my leisure time) I want to be inspired. Or tickled. Or shocked. Or provoked. I don’t want drab, dusty sentences or bland, self-effaced meanderings.

So why are there so few inspiring wine writers? Or, at least, why are the most visible wine writers generally so uninspiring?

If we love something, are we not capable of transcending jargon, pedantry and narrow-horizoned pedestrianism — to emblazon our love, bold on paper?

Until more wine writers are writing to inspire — whilst we’re still belching out our mass-produced £4.99 prose — how the hell do we have the nerve to castigate the buyers of £4.99 bottles?

Edit: I should perhaps clarify that the above is very much concerned with wine writing for public consumption — in the mainstream print & online press, particularly — and not wine writing for a niche/expert/obsessive audience, whose demands and appetites are clearly quite another kettle of wotsits. —OP

You can’t tell the difference between cheap and expensive wine? Rejoice!

In which we address the news item of the day: people’s alleged inability to taste the wheat amidst the chaff.

Macro photograph of a wooden-handled corkscrew. The metal screw is in focus; the wooden handle out.

Someone’s screwed. But I don’t think it’s the consumer.

So, big news in the wine world (if that’s not an immediate contradiction in terms) is that a recent psychological study demonstrated that ‘people just [can’t] tell the difference between cheap and expensive wine,’ in the words of Richard Wiseman, who conducted the survey at Hertfordshire University.

You can read more about the story on the Guardian, but the gist is that people were, overall, only able correctly to identify the more expensive wine from a pair 50% of the time. In other words, they might as well’ve flipped a coin.

Predictably, this story is the cause of much wino hullabaloo. On Twitter, I’ve read a good number of tweets in which wine industry members and/or wine bloggers see this as a problem to be overcome.

And I’m not sure I agree. Because, in my view, if people are getting the same amount of pleasure from a £5 wine as they are from a £20 wine, MORE POWER TO THEM. They win. And can use the £15 they’ve saved to buy sex/drugs/rock & roll.

I agree it’s a problem for the wine industry, which wants to make money. That includes retailers and producers of wine. But can anyone tell me why it’s a problem for the consumer who can’t tell the difference?

Moroccan wine and food in Marrakech

… in which Old Parn chronicles his imbibitions during a brief sojourn to the city of Marrakech in Morocco — including Medaillon Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon

Three women in colourful Moroccan dress walk along a road shiny with recent rainfall

I return to your screen, dear reader, revitalised by a brief sojourn to the city of Marrakech. A city where the streets are narrow and the mopeds are fast.

Composite image. On the left, a man rides his moped through a crowded Moroccan souk; on the right, a narrow Marrakech street

This is not the place for an exhaustive travel diary (indeed, there is no place for an exhaustive travel diary. Because that crap is boring as hell.) So I’ll limit myself to the tastes of Marrakech.

And what tastes, what tastes.

I think of bitter lacings of the chargrill, the zing of salt and lemon, the matt tang of cheese. Cinnamon, sugar, prune and lamb. Thrilling collisions of sweet and savoury.

An array of Moroccan starters in beautiful, multicoloured earthenware bowls

And the wine? Well.

Wine ain’t all that easy to come by in Morocco. Religion’n’all, y’know? But most any restaurant seems to have a few bottles around.

A golden-labelled bottle of Medaillon wine, as served in a Marrakech restaurantSo, during our stay, we sampled Medaillon Sauvignon Blanc, Medaillon Cabernet Sauvignon and a Syrah the name of which I foolishly neglected to note. All were Moroccan.

Impressions? Curious beasts, the lot of ’em — the white perhaps most odd of all (a slight tingle of fizz, stewy fruit, decaying blossoms), but all far from usual. A common feature seemed to be a whopping old dose of residual sugar (both reds had a mild whiff of communion wine to them), meaning that all three were far sweeter than you’d expect.

Finesse-wise, they were sorely lacking. But, you know what? In the context, they were damn nice. Perhaps simply because, after a day of being harangued, near-run-over, sun-beaten and bewildered, an alcoholic relaxant was delicious in any form. But also, I suspect, because Moroccan cuisine is so impressive in its marrying of the sweet and the savoury that many finer wines would’ve been entirely out of their depth. Paired with the food, all that sugar actually made a lot more sense.

And, y’know, sometimes (yes, it may sound heretical, but I’ll say it) — sometimes, the wine is just a backdrop.

Anyhow, normal reviewing service will be resumed shortly. Meanwhile, I cordially invite you to peruse my photographs of Marrakech, should you so desire…

The winner of last week’s Wine Competition

In which Old Parn reveals the lucky winner of his first wine competition

Thank you to everyone for your entries, first of all. I had fun reading hundreds of identical messages on Twitter, and methodically noting them all down.

But (as the cliche rumbles) there has to be a winner. And, on this occasion, I’m overjoyed to proclaim that the prize of 5 bottles of Wine Society goodness will go to Martin McCann, aka bar1ibrary.

Congratulations to the aforementioned gentleman, whose first words (tweeted) to the assembled press pack upon hearing the news were as follows:

‘I’m honoured. Actually I’m flabbergasted. Thank you and thank the random number generator.’

Indeed.

Anyhow, it was heaps of fun, wasn’t it? And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I were to run another buy clomid online safely wine competition in the future. So y’all should subscribe (by email or RSS) to make sure you don’t miss it. Yah?

The method

In case you’re interested, here’s how I randomly selected the winner. I’d been logging each entrant (monitored via Tweetdeck hashtag alerts) in a spreadsheet.

I then used this handy online random number generator to, well, generate a random number — between 1 and 250 (the number of entries). The number it threw up (8, as it happened) corresponded to the row of the spreadsheet in which our friend bar1ibrary’s entry was logged.

So now you know.

Come with me to a new and wholesome land!

In which Old Parn introduces the masses to his newly designed blog

A painting depicting a family of pioneers in a verdant rural landscape Okay, what’s happening?

This is what’s happening.

You remember how I promised the advent of a great and mighty wonder — in a fashion not wholly unlike that of John the Baptist — a few weeks ago? Well, that wonder has come to pass.

I have made a new blog design. Wiv me own bare ‘ands.

(That’s why it all looks diffrunt, loike.)

All my new reviews (and there are some goodies on the way, I promise) will only be posted on this new site. The old site? Well, try and go there if you wish; you’ll be ushered (gently yet firmly) across to the new’n.

A reassuring word to my beloved subscribers

If you’re reading this post via an RSS feed or an email subscription, fear not: you don’t need to do anything and your subscription will simply move across to the new site. Indeed, all being well, it probably already has. Woo.

(In passing, allow me to encourage those of you who aren’t to get with the cool kids and subscribe, too. Imagine! Old Parn’s winey ramblings straight to your inbox/reader. Bliss unparalleled, I tell ye.)

And, finally, a smidgin of waffle about the redesign, for those waffle-lovers amongst you

Yeah, as well as drinking alcohol and scattering words about like a shredded dictionary in a wind-tunnel, I also design websites and brochures and logos and things. And I deemed it a little ridiculous that a designer of things should have a crap-looking blog based on an off-the-peg template.

So that’s how it came about.

I’ve designed the site in such a way as to put emphasis on the reviews. I didn’t want to clutter them up with loads of sidebars and links, so all that gubbins is annexed off to the bottom. I’ve also made the text big. Because you probably want to read it, and big text is good to read, innit?

I also wanted it to look different from most wine blogs.

I’d be delighted to read yo’ comments on the redesign. Or, indeed, on anything else.

I ain’t fussy.

Change is coming to Old Parn

In which the eponymous Old Parn tantalises his readers with distant prospects and promises

Thanks for accompanying me through the blooming and withering of the flower that was 2010. I raise my glass to you (if you could see me, I guarantee I would be raising my glass. Or at least gulping from it, madly.)

Back when I started Old Parn’s Wine Reviews, in the murky depths of, um, September 2010, I had no idea how much I’d enjoy having a cast-iron excuse to drink lots of wine writing a wine blog.

So I’m stepping things up a bit.

A closed, partially-derelict wine bar in Belfast with a distinctive pink facade

Old Parn’s Wine Reviews, then, will be changing soon. First up, it’ll be moving priligy dapoxetine canada from Blogger to WordPress. But more importantly, it will be metamorphosing. I am — even now — hard at work in my secret laboratory, designing the new Old Parn.

So your days of looking at this site’s over-yellow and JPG-artifact-ridden background are (mercifully) numbered. A new and prettier site is on the way. And this one will be brought to you — bespoke — by my own fair hand. Not grabbed off the peg.

Stick with me till then, won’tcha? I’ve a Pinot Blanc and a Christmas Bordeaux to tell y’about in the meanwhile…