Previous magazine Next magazine

Laugh now, but soon they could be in charge

Browse past issues

Featured articles


My 50 weddings

A couple of weekends ago, I went to my 50th wedding. Everyone I have mentioned this to has pulled a rather strange face, as though to say, ‘You count the weddings you go to? What unhinged variety of cross-eyed lunatic does that?’ But like so much of lasting value in life, this began with a

Notes on …Vodka

James Bond’s ‘Vodka martini, shaken, not stirred’ will never be a mark of sophistication for me because vodka and I go back too far. Our association began when I was nine or ten in that brief interlude after the second world war when Russia was still ‘our noble ally’. Vodka was simply one more new

Britain’s best one-liners, from Oxford’s 2013 edition

Modest about our national pride — and inordinately proud of our national modesty. —Ian Hislop I always invest in companies an idiot could run, because one day one will. —Warren Buffett I find it easy to portray businessmen. Being bland, rather cruel and incompetent comes naturally to me. —John Cleese I always wanted to be

More features

The joy of rum

Until a few years ago, I knew nothing about rum. There was the dark stuff, coveted by the pirates of Treasure Island, used by the Navy for grog on board warships and abused by Churchill in his sarcastic account of naval traditions: rum, sodomy and the lash. At least rum would be preferable to the

Rod Liddle: My career as a wine writer started out so well

Ah, this all started out so well, and with such good intentions. This attempt of mine to write seriously and informatively about wine. Well, to write about wine, full stop, really. There was always going to be a problem with someone who rather likes retsina, I suppose. My chief criteria for judging wine is quantity.

A grand tour in a glass

What a challenge. To travel across Italy in an afternoon of wines. I arrived at the soaring spaces of Lindley Hall in Victoria, where Berry Bros & Rudd had assembled 43 growers from 11 regions for its Grand Tour, Italy 2013. Master of ceremonies David Berry Green strolled among the tables tasting and gossiping, introducing

The joy of 1995 Lagavulin

In a small cupboard at the end of my office sits a bottle of 1995 Lagavulin, distilled in a Pedro Ximénez sherry cask. Just looking at it from my desk gives me immense pleasure. I can open it and smell the cork if I need inspiration. And sometimes, after The Spectator is put to bed, I

Italian red wine: The start of the affair

I was taught to admire and respect, even revere, the great red wines of France: the growths of Bordeaux, the crus of Burgundy, Hermitage, Côte Rotie. No one taught me to admire Italian red wines; I simply fell in love with them. The prelude to the affair was a wine tasting hosted by the occasional

Sorry, Champagne, but cider is the original fizz

It has become a commonplace fact, beloved of pub quizzes, that an Englishman, Christopher Merret, invented Champagne. There is even an element of truth to it: Merret gave a paper to the Royal Society in 1672 outlining how to make wine fizzy. But he wasn’t the first to induce bubbles in a bottle. In the

Auberon Waugh’s way with wine

The cellars at Combe Florey, the house in Somerset in which I grew up, were a place of mystery and fear. You walked down wide, shallow stone steps to a large door on which my father had stuck a postcard which read ‘I know who you are’ when, in a fit of paranoia, he decided


Transylvania Diary by Thomas W. Hodgkinson – diary

Ehe-Gefängnis. The word, strictly speaking (which is how one should always speak), means ‘marriage prison’, and refers to an austere cell maintained in some of the magnificent fortified Saxon churches of central Transylvania. When a local couple decided to divorce, they were first locked in this narrow room for several weeks. There was only one