Drink

The best way to celebrate the past? Uncork it

17 June 2017 9:00 am

I have been thinking about the Dark Ages. This has nothing to do with Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn. A…

The best way to view Jeremy Corbyn? Through rosé-tinted glasses

3 June 2017 9:00 am

It was a typical bank holiday. Usual English weather: glorious, until you leave home without a brolly. Then fickleness supervenes…

The 2016 Bordeaux vintage makes up for everything bad the French ever did

20 May 2017 9:00 am

‘That sweet enemy, France.’ It takes a poet to summarise centuries of military and diplomatic history. On a prosaic level,…

Can Rory Stewart MP save a very British bildung?

6 May 2017 9:00 am

Over the long weekend I read a couple of bildungs-romans; one a revisit after many years, the other a recent…

The world is all but lost – at least we’ve found some good caviar

22 April 2017 9:00 am

I argued that it was unnecessary to have made sacrifices during Lent in order to celebrate its conclusion. It is…

A toast to unsung heroes, the god of battles and the infinite desert stars

8 April 2017 9:00 am

We were talking about war, the desert and God. In the early Seventies, one of our number, Christopher James, had…

The charms of old Paris – and the naughtiest girl of the 20th century

25 March 2017 9:00 am

Paris used to be the most self-confident city in the world. Brash, assertive, boastful: Manhattan claimed to be the best.…

Burgundies that taste of T.S. Eliot

11 March 2017 9:00 am

Eliot. After 50 years trying to make sense of his verse, and at the risk of admitting to rampant philistinism,…

From kittens to claret: an ideal education

25 February 2017 9:00 am

Call me a sentimental old whatever, but watching a four-year old hearing The Tale of Samuel Whiskers for the first…

Bloody Marys and the funniest woman in the House of Lords

11 February 2017 9:00 am

To the Western Isles, or at least to its embassy in Belgravia. Boisdale restaurant always claims to be extra-territorial. There…

The only good thing about the Soviet Union was cheap caviar

28 January 2017 9:00 am

I know an immensely grand aristocratic lady, impeccably mannered, with a regal grace and presence, who cannot be trusted near…

A better year ahead? That’s what the tsar expected in 1917

14 January 2017 9:00 am

Someone came up with a century-old quotation plangent with irony and sadness: ‘The year 1916 was cursed: 1917 will surely…

Had someone deliberately messed up Lord Archer’s dinner?

31 December 2016 9:00 am

I first ate at the London version of Harry’s Bar in the early 1990s. Back then, Jeffrey Archer and I…

Want to understand Italy's economy? Look at its wines, not its GDP

10 December 2016 9:00 am

The other day, I had lunch with the grandest person I know. Forget 1066: Adrian Ziani de Ferranti can trace…

The Odd Bottles now have a paramilitary wing

3 December 2016 9:00 am

This is something to be said for starting to celebrate Christmas before the end of the grouse season. It provides…

What wine is worthy of white truffle? It took us a few tries to be sure

19 November 2016 9:00 am

A few days ago, on the Dorset/Somerset marches, autumn was still in orderly retreat. Although a pear tree’s leaves had…

Should Nato have embraced Russia?

5 November 2016 9:00 am

An aeon ago, when I was first invited to the odd City lunch, there was a standard formula: G&T, white,…

The sacred mission to stop real whisky becoming too popular

22 October 2016 9:00 am

A long-standing friend of mine is a lucky fellow. He has spent his career doing exactly what he was born…

With great wine comes great anxiety

8 October 2016 9:00 am

We were surpassing Sydney Smith. His idea of heaven was pâté de foie gras to the sound of trumpets. Our…

The no-nonsense greatness of Australian wine

24 September 2016 9:00 am

Any Australian who admits to not having convict ancestors loses caste. When granted a coat of arms, the smart ones…

The first grouse of autumn, and a debate begins afresh

10 September 2016 9:00 am

The autumn bank holiday is like the five-minute bell at the opera. The shades of the prison house loom. All…

A toast to the glories of Provence

27 August 2016 9:00 am

Friends have a house in Provence, near the foot of Mont Ventoux. Even in a region so full of charm…

Alexander McCall Smith’s Bruce Anderson – and me

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Will Lyons, a delightful companion, is not only a friend of mine. He has one of the finest palates in…

Glyndebourne on a summer’s eve was Arcadia

30 July 2016 9:00 am

I know little about human medicine: still less about the animal equivalent. So I had always assumed that vets were…

Why it takes more thinking to be a Tory than a socialist

16 July 2016 9:00 am

John Stuart Mill did not describe the Conservatives as the stupid party. He merely said that although not all Tories…