Oh NZ, you make me feel brand new

31 October, 2008

Mick Hucknall, the famous Sicilian winemaker who not many people realise is also the lead singer of Simply Red, is visiting Villa Maria's Auckland Winery in February to perform his greatest hits. Rolling Back the Beers Wines & Spirits Prices will doubtless join Margins Too Tight to Mention on the set list.

The concert takes place in "the beautiful surroundings of Villa Maria's Auckland Estate", according to the Kiwi producer. The setting is a "natural amphitheatre" and the park "sits inside the collapsed crater of an extinct volcano". That's what they're telling Mick, anyway. We can't wait to see the place erupt as he takes to the stage.

Plug pulled on Draughtmaster ad

There are some things you should never do in your garden, like use a fork while wearing flip-flops or stand on the top rung of a stepladder holding a chain saw. Now there's something else to add to the list of banned al fresco activities: operating a Carlsberg Draughtmaster.

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint about a TV ad for the device, which had featured a close-up shot of a man pulling a pint while a voiceover said: "Imagine pulling the perfect pint. At home."

It soon became clear that the man was standing in a garden, a point underlined by the final line: "Carlsberg Draughtmaster. Probably the best barbecue accessory in the world."

A viewer claimed the ad was misleading because the Draughtmaster instructions clearly state the device should not be operated outdoors. The ASA agreed, Carlsberg said sorry, and the ad was pulled.

We asked Carlsberg why the device is only suitable for indoor use. "It's got a plug because it's an electrical product," a spokesman said. "And if it rains ..."

If it rains, you call off the barbecue. Don't you?

Sheraton: iSue over myBeer

More proof that the world is going mad and that humanity is doomed. A legal spat has kicked off between iPhone application developer Steve Sheraton and Molson Coors over a piece of software which makes it look like your mobile contains beer, which can be virtually "swigged" to the amusement of any 12-year-olds in school playgrounds.

Sheraton claims he was contacted by Coors' UK ad agency to license his iBeer software, but the brewery later used another firm to create the rival iPint. He wants over $12.5 million in damages. And, we suggest, a big hug.

A case of your best crap, please

When a critic described a Beaujolais as "vin de merde", he ended up in court. But there's no law, even in France, against producers labelling their own products as "crap wine".

A co-op in Cignac, deep in the heart of Languedoc, has resorted to that measure for its rosé wine. It was more than slightly ironic - after all, the wine was put on sale at almost e7 a bottle.

Vin de Merde has been described as a "publicity stunt" and an "act of desperation". It's also a runaway success: the first 5,000 bottles had sold out within days and 7,500 more are being released to meet demand.

Youth alarm has a sting in its tail

Members of the Camden Youth Council descended on Dilip Patel's Regent's Park off-licence recently to demand his Mosquito alarm be torn down. The device had been installed, contrary to council policy, to disperse intimidating groups of youngsters who had been congregating around the store. The Mosquito sent such youths packing, perhaps not with a flea in their ear but certainly a high-pitched ringing noise inaudible to adults.

"We can say we have achieved something. We have made a difference," crowed Youth Council leader Eleanor Bley Griffiths, 16. The councillors said they had some sympathy for Dilip's position but joint leader Axel Landin, 17, pointed out: "It's a narrow-minded view of young people. If it was 60 businessmen in suits with briefcases hanging around outside, lots of other people would find them intimidating, but I bet he wouldn't switch on the alarm."

If your store is plagued by groups of intimidating businessmen in suits, please call the OLN helpline on 0825 700900.

One piggy didn't come to market

Hooray for the single market! Over a decade ago there were confident predictions that European unity would mean that duty levels were harmonised and everyone would happily buy their booze from their local shops. It hasn't quite worked like that.

The Irish are reeling from their biggest duty hike in years and are now encouraged to buy their drink from the relatively cheap north. The Scots, meanwhile, look hell-bent on imposing minimum pricing which will create a stampede to retailers in England. The English, for their part, are still loading up in Calais, despite the rising euro. It's all worked out beautifully, hasn't it?


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English wine: a happy harvest for Christmas

All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later they’re crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

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Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

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