Wine Club

Our nine merchant partners – Armit Wines, Corney & Barrow, FromVineyardsDirect, Honest Grapes, Mr Wheeler, Private Cellar, Swig, Tanners and Yapp Bros – represent the cream of the UK’s independents and boast centuries of experience between them. They all have particular areas of expertise and stock wines that you would never be able to find on the supermarket shelves or local off-licence.

Vinous highlights from a lush year, courtesy of Private Cellar

It has been a gloriously wine-soaked year for us lushes at the Spectator Wine Club, during which we have worked closely with our chums at Private Cellar, the leading independent merchant based on the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens. PC’s marketing director, Laura Taylor, was not only headteacher at this year’s Spectator Wine School, she

Six tempting South American bottles from Honest Grapes

Our Spectator Wine Time Friday/BYOB lunch last week was a belter, with 15 of us managing to see off 21 bottles quite comfortably and with no apparent ill effects. Indeed, we all left pretty much as steadily as we arrived, and I was proud that several readers still had it in them to enjoy a

There’s only one way to break sober October

So how’s your sober October going? No, nor mine. I ticked two consecutive days off the calendar, which is more than I’ve managed since, gosh, January. Baby steps, I know, but it’s bloody difficult. Mrs Ray is not helping. One minute she’s chiding me for being a lush with no self-control; the next she’s hovering

A delectable selection of wines from Bordeaux

Phew, we made it in one piece. Nobody was seasick, nobody fell overboard, and nobody got shot. I’m talking, of course, of our Spectator Clays, Claret and Cognac Cruise in Thames sailing barge Will, during which 30 or so readers and a crack Spectator team blasted at clays with pump action shotguns and blunderbusses before

Good, honest French wines: a selection from Yapp Bros.

It was the mighty Andrew Edmunds’s memorial last week – he of the eponymous restaurant and the Academy Club, those last vestiges of old Soho. All the great and the louche were there paying their respects to this delightful man of many parts – restaurateur, clubman, wine lover, fine print purveyor, flower arranger, fly fisherman

Private Cellar have winkled out some real wonders

I’m just back from a week in Alsace and I can’t stop grinning. It’s my favourite of all French wine regions, ridiculously pretty and warmly welcoming. The winemakers are just so genial and – unlike many other regions we can all think of – inherently collaborative, forever bigging up the wares of their rivals, who

A tasty offer from Italian specialists Honest Grapes

So, there we were, my chum and I, nearing the bottom of our second bottle of perfectly chilled Franciacorta, that wonderful Italian fizz that knocks spots off prosecco. It was a gorgeous wine, we both agreed, from a gorgeous country, full of gorgeous people, eating gorgeous food and living gorgeous lives. In a perfect world,

Wine Club: a super summer sale to beat the alcohol duty increase

Hey you there on your sun lounger! Take a gander at this summer sale, courtesy of our chums at FromVineyardsDirect. These are extremely toothsome bin-ends and overstocks at pre-duty increase prices. I’ve tasted them, rejected the also-rans and beaten FVD down on price as much as I can. There are some cracking mystery cases included

Wine Club: great value picks from Argentina’s Penedo Borges

Well, crikey, that was fun! The recent inaugural Spectator tour of Champagne, that is. We had a hoot, visiting five producers and enjoying two first-rate dinners courtesy of Taittinger and Pol Roger. We learned lots, laughed lots, drank lots and I don’t think a single spittoon was sullied during the entire trip. Bravo! Oh, and

Wine Club: perfect summer fare from Swig

There are worse ways of spending the late May bank holiday than tasting a dozen or so wines from Swig, the merchant beloved of my sainted predecessors Messrs Waugh and Hoggart. Mrs Ray did question why I had to start so early, finish so late and ask so many neighbours to help but then she,

Wine Club: a fine Italian selection from Mr Wheeler

Feeling desperately fragile after a cocktail-soaked long weekend with Lunch Club in Berlin, I tried to appease an exasperated, eye-rolling Mrs Ray by vowing never to drink again. Wouldn’t touch a drop. As I rallied, though, and the Berliner katzenjammer slowly cleared, I pulled myself together and pointed out that there was work to do