Friendly neighbourhood vineyard

21 March, 2008

Waitrose earned itself a polite round of applause from the wine trade when it announced recently that it would be planting its own vineyards. But was it really a first for the UK retail trade?

Not exactly. Visitors to Laithwaites' Theale headquarters will be familiar with the neat little plot that sits beside the ­giant shed and which helps produce 900 bottles of sparkling wine every year. And the company's relentless advance into viticulture doesn't end there: the Virginia Water shop also has its own tiny Merlot vineyard.

All of this is very groundbreaking and exciting but it must give the estates team an even bigger headache than they already have when identifying new store locations. The checklist presumably now includes "prime Home Counties location, on a main road, large floor area, favourable lease, ample car parking, and a well-drained southern slope with poor gravelly soil and minimal risk of spring frosts".

Try explaining that one

Fool's Gold star Matthew McConaughey wants to name his unborn son after his favourite beer. So what's it to be? Murphy? Foster? John, as in Smith? No. McConaughey Jr will be known as Bud, according to OLN's Hollywood correspondent.

According to our source: "Matthew's older brother Michael named his second son Miller Lyte because he loved the beer so much. And Matthew loved the name so much he really wants to name his son after his favourite beer. He is thinking of going for Bud after Budweiser."

Perhaps that's how the Corrs got their name. (No it isn't. Ed.)

Brain drain

We're assuming not many of our readers subscribe to Alcohol & Alcoholism so we can safely reprise one of its recent articles. Researchers at the University of Gottingen in Germany have discovered that wine damages the brain more than beer or spirits.

They have found that wine shrinks the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory. A small ­hippocampus can affect not only memory but also navigation and spatial awareness, and may cause feelings of disorientation. Yet another reason to tax wine to oblivion, we suppose.

Water's rising

Nip down to Tesco or Asda on Monday morning and you might never have guessed that beer had gone up 4p a pint. Premium bottled ales were on sale for £1.38 a bottle, but in case that seemed a bit steep Tesco was also offering 25% off six. Mind you, you should have seen the price of the water ...

Leap at leFROG

"Add alcohol to fruit juice and get an alcopop, but take alcohol from wine and get pretend wine which fools no one," say the nice people at Glass Half Full, a Winchester company which has developed a soft drink based on wine. "We select a number of wines, gently remove the alcohol, and carefully blend them into a proper, grown-up soft drink."

All sounds good, but the name isn't quite as "grown up" as the idea. A glass of leFROG, anyone?

Pimp your ride

Champagne Mumm has joined forces with Alfred Dunhill to offer an ­innovative personal Champagne delivery service during the two May bank holidays.

Dunhill customers spending over £250 in one of their London stores during April and May can opt to have a chilled bottle of Cordon Rouge Champagne delivered to them at a time of their choice anywhere within the M25 by a dashing Dunhill-clad motorcyclist.

And no, that isn't another way of saying he stinks of fags.

And another thing

If we had an award for the least helpful contribution to the national debate on responsible alcohol consumption, it would be won by

Name and Address Supplied , who put pen to paper last week to swell the Daily Record's letters page. "If I had my way I would close down every off-licence and take away the drink licences from the corner shops," he or she stormed. "I'm not saying they ALL serve kids but there is always an adult willing to get them booze." Isn't it great that there are such helpful suggestions floating around?




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