Jonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is The Spectator’s drinks editor.

Wine Club: another Spectator scoop from Chateau Musar

Whoop, whoop, it’s another Spectator scoop! Mighty Ch. Musar of Lebanon has just released its latest – 2017 – vintage, and wily Johnny Wheeler has ensured that readers are the first in the UK to get their hands on it. This wine is not available anywhere else until Easter and, with Musar repositioning the brand

The rise of women winemakers

Anna, the daughter of friends of mine, is in her final year at university and keen to enter the wine trade. Clearly, she is wise beyond her years because it’s a hugely engaging career. She will never get rich but will always be happy. Oh, and a glass of something tasty will never be far

Wine Club: a Hamilton Russell exclusive from Private Cellar

I don’t know how Laura Taylor does it. Private Cellar’s marketing director has managed – after a similar coup with the previous vintage – to snare an elusive and handsome parcel of 2022 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay and Pinot Noir especially for readers of The Spectator. You cannot buy these anywhere else yet. These are

Wine Club: six of the finest Rhônes from FromVineyardsDirect

I adore the wines of the Rhône. What wine lover doesn’t? There’s variety and there’s value, especially when compared with Bordeaux and Burgundy, and it’s possible to drink your fill without visiting the same well twice or fretting too much about the cost. Last time we had a small Rhône add-on to the main offer;

Wine Club: ridiculously pleasurable picks from Swig

So that’s it, a month on the wagon almost done and dusted. Hurrah! You might recall that owing to a spat over some liqueur chocolates, Mrs Ray declared that I was in clear breach of the Dry January code and promptly zapped me with a one-week penalty, now almost spent. Allies of mine – Dave

Wine Club: a bin-end bonanza from Mr Wheeler

Mrs Ray can be so sneaky. I thought that Dry January was all about spousal solidarity and mutual encouragement; she thought it was all about catching me out. It kicked off when she busted me sucking dry the liqueur chocolates I’d squirrelled away at Christmas and had come to rely upon. I said they didn’t

Wine Club: a Christmas treat from Corney & Barrow

So this is it folks, the last offer of the year. James Franklin of Corney & Barrow and I worked tirelessly to bring you the tastiest, most Yule-appropriate wines we could at the best possible prices. Indeed, so fine and so well-priced are they that I barely bothered the spittoon while tasting them and will

Wine Club: a peach-laden offer from Yapp Bros

I woke this morning to find blossom on our cherry tree. For a few blissful seconds I thought it was spring and that I’d slept through Christmas. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and I felt faint with joy. But reality – and Christmas Affected Doom, Depression and Despondency – soon kicked in:

Jonathan Ray

The secret to drinking Chardonnay

Chardonnay has fallen dramatically out of favour. It’s passé, old hat and, well, just that little bit naff. I’m referring, of course, to the girls name, twenty years ago, which was briefly in vogue in certain circles. Indeed, in 2003 – thanks to the popularity of Chardonnay Lane-Pascoe, a character in the ITV seriesFootballers’ Wives –

How to see Switzerland by train

As we all know, the Swiss love their clocks, their cheese and their chocolate. They also adore their railway. The trains are clean, comfortable, convenient and you can set your (Swiss) watch by them.  The system is 175 years old this year, a fact recently celebrated by the running of the world’s longest train through

Wine Club: mix and match, magnums and more from Tanners

Robert Boutflower of Tanners is a good, kind, generous man. All he and we want is your happiness and so, mindful of the wretched economic situation the twits in charge have landed us in and the ghastly spectre of dread Christmas on the horizon (my words, not his), he put up a deliciously varied selection

Wine Club: a glittering selection from Armit Wines

I shocked an old friend the other day when I confessed how much I drank per week. He shocked me by confessing how often he had sex. We sat in speechless astonishment before clearing our throats in a very English way and moving on to the weather. I’m not in the least bit proud of

Food and friendliness: Britain’s most welcoming restaurants

I went to a well-known Michelin-starred restaurant a few weeks ago and I hated every minute. The food was remarkable, of course, with every dish a picture and each morsel technically perfect. But the restaurant itself was ghastly and sterile. Fellow diners stared glassy-eyed at their plates, terrified of raising their voices. The prices were eye-watering and

What ‘partygate’ got wrong about wine

There is palpable public outrage about the flagrant lockdown rule flouting of 10 Downing Street during Partygate. But for oenophiles everywhere, by far the most disturbing revelation is not that the Prime Minister broke the rules (even though he made the rules) or that he might have lied about it, but that staff in No. 10 scuttled to the local Tesco

The art of choosing ‘healthy’ wine

I’m entirely convinced that, when drunk in moderation, wine is good for us, with its benefits far outweighing its potential harm. It certainly reduces stress, a contributory factor in around a fifth of all heart attacks, and helps us socialise, raising our ‘feel-good’ dopamine and serotonin levels. All of which should make us think twice

How to drink like a royal

Dubonnet, that staple of the Seventies drinks cabinet and toe-curling Abigail’s Party-like gatherings, has finally been awarded a royal warrant by the Queen. A royal warrant recognises those who have supplied goods or services to the royal households of either the Queen or the Prince of Wales (and, formerly, that of the Duke of Edinburgh) for

The art of drinking Pinot Noir

If you’re a lover of Pinot Noir and fine red burgundy you’re doubtless in a bit of a stew. You’re worried that although the about-to-be-launched 2020 vintage is an absolute cracker, the amount of Pinot produced was down by around 40 per cent and there ain’t going to be enough to go round. You’re also