Henry Jeffreys

The shocking truth about adulterated wine: it was delicious

In 2012 the esoteric world of wine connoisseurship made the news when the FBI raided the Californian home of an Indonesian national called Rudy Kurniawan. They found a factory for creating fake wines with bottles, corks, labels and even recipes. According to Rebecca Gibb in Vintage Crime, Kurniawan’s counterfeit Mouton Rothschild from the legendary 1945

The cult of the gilet

Last summer I attended a reunion at my prep school. The occasion was the leaving of a much-loved master. I thought that the appropriate thing to wear would be a tweed jacket in honour of prep-school masters everywhere. I found myself woefully overdressed. Pretty much all of my contemporaries were wearing gilets. It was a

How to make a royally good Dubonnet cocktail

The Platinum Jubilee celebrations look like boom time for the drinks industry, with various whisky, gin and port brands all releasing special commemorative bottles. But there’s one curious omission: Dubonnet, a liqueur that is said to be the Queen’s favourite. According to a spokesman from parent company Pernod Ricard, there’s nothing planned to celebrate 70

More than one bad apple: the sorry demise of English cider

Can you imagine if, in the 20th century, wine producers in France had switched from a product made (almost) entirely from grapes to something that was essentially grape-flavoured alcoholic sugar water? It’s inconceivable. In fact, they did just the opposite. To stamp out the growth of ersatz wines, the appellation contrôlée system was created, which,

With Henry Jeffreys

26 min listen

Henry Jeffreys is features editor of Masters of Malt, and author of The Cocktail Dictionary. On the podcast, he tells Lara and Livvy about living like the Goodfellas in Leeds, being ‘portly’ at university, and enjoying his mum’s apple and bramble pie.

Why Florence’s ‘wine windows’ are making a comeback

Stroll around Florence and you’ll notice little ornate openings embedded in the walls of Renaissance palazzos. They look like doorways for tiny people, though they would have to be quite athletic tiny people, as the openings are three feet off the ground. But they’re not entrances for Tuscan pixies — they’re for selling wine. There

Is this the end of the wine bottle?

Picture the world before the invention of the bottle: if you wanted a nice glass of claret at home, you’d have to send a boy round to the tavern to fill up a jug — unless you were rich enough to have a whole barrel in your cellar. Around 1630, a new tougher glass was

Tips for Christmas tipples

It’s telling that perhaps the best wine book of last year, Amber Revolution by Simon Woolf, was self-published, though you’d never guess from the quality of the design, photography or editing. Wine books are a tough slog for publishers unless they’re written by one of the big four: Clarke, Johnson, Robinson and Spurrier (sounds like

Home bars

When I mention to people that I have written a book about home bars, the most common response is, ‘my parents/grandparents/swinging uncle used to have one of those globe cocktail cabinets’. The other thing they mention is Only Fools and Horses. For years, having a bar in your home was seen as the height of

How to infuriate the French

Fine wine rarely makes it into the public consciousness, but one event in 1976 has proved of perennial interest: the so-called Judgment of Paris. It heralded the arrival of wine from the New World, but also tapped into popular prejudice. Who can resist French wine snobs being made to look foolish? So these memoirs by

In praise of bangers

I was collecting my daughter from school when my path was blocked by an enormous black Range Rover sitting in the middle of the road. As I squeezed past, one tyre on the pavement, I opened my window and asked, as gently as I could: ‘Why don’t you drive on your side of the road?’

Deathly prose

‘Reading makes the world better. It is how humans merge. How minds connect… Reading is love in action.’ Those are the words of the bestselling author Matt Haig and though I wouldn’t put it quite like that, I too feel that there is something inherently good about reading. Daniel Kalder has no such illusions. His

University Challenge

One programme that still shines out as a beacon of intellectual rigour among the sea of dross on television is University Challenge. As always, teams of four students from Britain’s best universities battle it out for the series championship. Rather than assuming the viewer is an idiot, like most factual programmes, it works on the

In vino veritas

Taste has a well-noted ability to evoke memory, so it is curious how infrequently most wine writers mine their pasts for inspiration. You wouldn’t think that some had ever fallen in love, read a novel or even got drunk. Instead they obsess over scores, sulphur and diurnal temperature variation. Thank heavens for Nina Caplan, who

Smoked salmon

I’m just about old enough to remember when smoked salmon was a rare treat. Then, around 1986 or 1987, suddenly it was everywhere. There were smoked salmon sandwiches at M&S, it was stuffed into lurid-looking canapés with cream cheese, and Christmas became a riot of salty fish. For me, smoked salmon is as emblematic of

Soho drinking clubs

When someone says ‘Let’s go for a drink at my club’, what do you imagine? A grand St James’s establishment like Boodle’s or White’s, or perhaps a media hangout such as the Groucho or Soho House? What you probably don’t think of is an unmarked door and a flight of rickety stairs. Yet through unpromising-looking

Kentish wine

As a wine bore, holidays abroad are a battle with the family to cram in as many vineyard visits as possible when all they want to do is go to the beach. But it’s only recently that I have begun to take advantage of the riches on my doorstep. I wonder how many Londoners realise