Bruce Anderson

Bruce Anderson is The Spectator's drink critic, and was the magazine's political editor

How to drown your sorrows

Age. At the Spectator party last week, the editor asked me how long I had been attending the festivity. I could not remember whether it had been since the late 1970s or not until the early 1980s. But change is not always for the worse. During the 1980s, dearly beloved Bron Waugh was in charge

The key to dealing with this election? Wine

An old friend phoned. Normally cheerful, he was fed up. One of his business partners was being more than usually incompetent. ‘I told him that I’d describe him as a halfwit, if I could find the half.’ We went on to discuss another couple of friends, both good men and true, who seem doomed to

A lunch good enough to lift Tory spirits 

Things could have been worse. My host was determined to lunch al fresco, and after all it was late June. Yet this is England and as everyone knows, even D-Day had to be postponed for 24 hours. In the event, we were fine. The elements were kindly. The temperature did not fall below 60, the

The joy of Portuguese wines

There was a wonderful old boy called John – Sir John – Wordie, who was a quintessential member of the establishment. A barrister, he spent much of his time defusing controversies before they had boiled over. In that enterprise, he never sought publicity, finding it much easier to dispense wise advice if no one knew

The best bottle to come from the Gigondas

One needs wine more than ever, yet when imbibing, it can be hard to concentrate. So much is going on. We were at table and the news came through about Slovakia. Was this an obscure incident, regrettable but below the level of geopolitics? Or would it become a second Sarajevo? Fortunately, that seems unlikely. In

How to become an old soak

Drink and longevity: there seems to have been a successful counter-attack against the puritans, prohibitionists and other health faddists. Indeed, there is virtually a consensus that red wine has almost medicinal properties. That said, a confusion about so-called units remains. When the measurement was explained to me, I said that it sounded adequate. ‘Really?’ ‘Yes,

The case for Churchillian drinking

Churchill. No disrespect to Andrew Roberts’s more recent work, but I set out to look up a point about drink in Roy Jenkins’s biography and ended up rereading it. I think that it is Roy’s best book and extremely well written. There are also passages where he slips in points from his own experience of

The glory of German wines

I have had three recent conversations, all lively if unrelated – and all well lubricated. The first concerned Anglo-Saxon England around ad 700. Recent discoveries of coin hoards suggested that economic activity during that period of the Dark Ages was more extensive than had been supposed. Without damaging the coins, it had been possible to

A fitting overture to Holy Week

Holy Week, but not everywhere. After reading that the diocese of Birmingham wanted to hire staff to help with deconstructing whiteness, only one conclusion is possible. Large parts of the C of E have become a theological and liturgical wilderness. The Devil is in charge and it is unholy week, 52 weeks a year. Anglican friends assure me

Idris Elba’s champagne makes the world seem less troubled

Gloom. Relentless rain out of a sullen sky enhanced an already pessimistic mood. We were talking geopolitics and agreeing that the West ought to brace itself for a hard landing. Try as we might, we could find no good news, anywhere. Where is the self-belief of the Reagan/Thatcher years? Instead, a culture war is taking

I’m a rosé convert

Paris is more than a city. It is a state of mind, an aspiration. Though it glorifies the military, it remains feminine and beguiling. Its heroes moved effortlessly from triumphs on the battlefield to triumphs in the boudoir. The very stones of Paris seem redolent of the dreams and ecstasies of past lovers, and of

The miracle of limoncello

Consider the paradox of lemons. In Italy, one associates them with scented groves. A few years ago, Helena Attlee wrote the book The Land Where Lemons Grow, in which citrus fruits become a golden thread running through the history of Italian agriculture. Yet though the lemon is arguably the most beautiful of fruits, its tart

I’m raising a glass to the Tory party’s future

Wine stimulates the wits, emboldens debate, and inspires the mind. Judicious quantities, abetted by judicious quality, encourage the participants to attack the important questions. Thus it has been over the past few days, discussing God and the Universe. I was talking to an astronomer, whose day is spent contemplating the vastness of interstellar space. Consider

My adventures in rosé

During the festive season, I usually spend far too much time thinking and talking about politics. But the latest was an exception. One hostess fixed me with a gimlet eye and announced that she had forbidden any discussion of Israel/Palestine. At a recent dinner party, the table had been repeatedly banged, someone had stormed out

Let’s hope for good cheer this Christmas

A couple of years ago, I saw a charming cartoon. A boy and a girl aged about seven were in an earnest conversation. ‘Of course I don’t believe in Father Christmas,’ said the boy. ‘But we’ve got to keep up the pretence for the sake of the parents.’ This Christmas, all over the world, many

The Swiss appetite for wine gives them a good name

A friend was in town, who rebuts two instances of dull conventional wisdom. The first is that although Swiss Germans may have many qualities – they make excellent bankers – they have no joie de vivre. The Calvinist heritage persists. Second, that the Swiss are an implacably martial race. Other armies, especially the British, use

The world is a mess. Why not find escapism through wine? 

In most children’s stories, the good characters live happily ever after. Works suitable for older readers tend to greater realism. Even ‘Gaudeamus Igitur’, that most joyous of drinking songs, presses the case for carpe diem. ‘Get stuck in to your pleasures laddie,’ it seems to be saying, ‘before it is too late.’ With the world

It’s time to take Italian wine seriously 

Tuscany: earth has not anything to show more fair. The landscape is charming. The gentle hills seem to smile down upon humanity. The inhabitants give the impression that they were already civilised when we British barely had enough woad to paint our backsides blue. There are also the grapes. From early on, Tuscany sent its