Jonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is The Spectator’s drinks editor.

The secret to drinking rum

There is surely no better way of passing the time than by doing nothing at all, fuelled by a large well-chilled drink. Nothing beats hanging out with a couple of similarly empty-headed chums in a warm patch of sun, glass in hand, watching the world go by. It turns out that those past-masters of taking it easy,

Wines to get you through the British summer

The odd torrential thunderstorm aside, the summer is in full swing. Hurrah! Of course, most of us are going to have to enjoy it here in Blighty rather than sur le continong or in the Maldives or Mauritius, so ridiculously complex and uncertain does travel abroad remain. But, heck, if we can’t neck fine Provencal rosé

Father’s Day drinks to make Dad merry

Father’s Day is rarely observed in our house for some reason, unless you count that time I was let off dishwasher duty a decade or so ago. Mother’s Day, on the other hand, is greeted with bells, whistles and klaxons, my boys having had it drummed into them that flowers, breakfast in bed, a spa

Does Her Majesty’s Sloe Gin pass the taste test?

After the miserable, heart-wrenching year that she’s had, it would be little wonder if The Queen sought solace in alcohol. That the alcohol most likely to bring a smile to the regal chops might be the monarch’s own brand is perhaps more of a surprise. The royal bean counters charged with refilling the post-Covid coffers

How mead became cool again

The last time I drank mead was 7 April 1978. It was my 18th birthday and —unforgettably — it was snowing heavily. My chum Mark had bought me a bottle of Lindisfarne Mead which I knocked back on top of several Tequila Sunrises, a bottle of Black Tower and a few Brandy Alexanders. This toxic

How to drink like James Bond

Alas, the latest instalment of Bond has been pushed back yet again to the autumn of 2021. So what are die hard 007 fans to do for nine months while their patience is tested by Covid delays yet again? A tipple from Bond’s drinks cabinet might be just the thing to help the months pass. Although No Time to

About Wine Club and our partners

The Spectator Wine Club is a club without sub. In fact it isn’t really a club at all, since no membership is required; no proposing, no seconding and no minimum order. Our nine merchant partners – Armit Wines, Corney & Barrow, FromVineyardsDirect, Honest Grapes, Mr Wheeler, Private Cellar, Swig, Tanners and Yapp Bros – represent

Wine Club 1 February

So that’s January done and dusted. Phew! I don’t know about you, but the wretched water wagon — to which I clung by my fingernails as always – is but a grim memory and I’m raring to go.jonath Happily, my abstinence proved to Mrs Ray that I’m not a complete dipso; my liver had a

Will Kent conquer Champagne?

Driving home through Kent the other day, I was struck by how much the topography has changed. When I was growing up there in the 1970s, first in Rolvenden and then in Hawkhurst, there were hop gardens. Today there are vineyards. I’m not sure Alfred Jingle would recognise the county about which he stated in

Wine Club 23 November

At dinner the other night, our host spotted a well-priced magnum of fizz on the list and beckoned the sommelier. Alas, it turned out the magnums were no more, the last one having been sold two nights previously. ‘Oh dear,’ sighed my chum. ‘I guess we’d better have it by the half-magnum, then, and see

Wine Club 16 November

Reports of the demise of our old chums at FromVineyardsDirect are grossly exaggerated. Indeed, those many readers who expressed concern as to their health will be delighted to learn that Esme and David are alive and kicking as part of the Wine Company stable along with that other Speccie partner, Mr Wheeler. And here they

Wine Club 9 November

Those naughty Yapp Brothers (actually, proprietors Jason Yapp and Tom Ashworth are naughty stepbrothers) are well known for preying upon unwary drinks writers and leading them astray. One day I’ll tell you about that bull fight in Dax with the bottle-of-rosé-a-head breakfast, the beer and pigs’ trotter lunch and the subsequent salsa festival where —

Wine Club 2 November

Our second offer from Naked Wines, the iconoclastic online merchant that funds selected winemakers via so-called angels — wine lovers who pay a sub for distribution to said vignerons in return for fine vino. Since there’s no marketing, advertising, agents, wholesalers etc, RRPs are said to be as low as possible. I’m not entirely convinced

“Clays, Claret and Cognac Cruise 2019 review”

Well, that’s a sight that will live with me for a long time, that of our esteemed business editor, Martin Vander Weyer, being knocked almost completely over by the ferocious recoil of an ancient and cacophonous blunderbuss. He was vainly trying to get to grips with the weapon in a doomed effort to pepper a

Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 26 October

We head to Italy this week and the wines of Castello Banfi. The much-admired estate was founded in 1978 by brothers John and Harry Mariani, and remarkably boasts Europe’s biggest contiguous vineyard, stretching from Tuscany to Piedmont. The 2018 Banfi ‘San Angelo’ Pinot Grigio (1) shows just how tasty this grape can be. I love,

Wine Club 5 October

As you settle down to read this over your boiled egg and soldiers, three dozen or so hardy Spectator readers will be messing about in a boat during our annual ‘Clays, Claret and Cognac’ cruise up and down the Thames. They will be aboard Thames sailing barge Will, blasting at clays (which, fret not, are

Wine Club 21 September

One of the jolliest of our recent Spectator Winemaker Lunches was that hosted by Maria Urrutia, fifth–generation director of the family-owned Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España, better known as CVNE, producers of exemplary Rioja since 1879. Fine Rioja is, famously, one of the most accessible of all wines and the most fairly priced, especially

Wine Club 7 September

A very tasty offer this week from guest partner Honest Grapes, the multi-award-winning online merchant founded five years ago by Nathan Hill and Tom Harrow, aka ‘Winechap’, celebrated as the nattiest dresser in the wine trade. HG is the antithesis of the aloof, pin-striped wine merchant of yore and the boys are whatever the diametric

Wine Club 17 August

Everyone loves Beaujolais. Now come on, don’t be like that! Of course they do! I’m not talking about ropey old Beaujolais Nouveau, that vin ordinaire — vin very ordinaire — of 1980s notoriety; I’m talking about the pukka, old-vine, low-yield, top-notch Beaujolais from one of the ten crus of the region. At their best, these