I've just spent possibly the most informative afternoon of my life with regards to wine and the drinking of wine and I didn't have to leave the house. I know a bit about wine, I know it comes in various colours and from different countries. France makes some good ones, so I'm told. Ok, bad jokes aside, I've drunk some pretty impressive wines in my time, I've been fortunate to have very gracious hosts who have introduced me to some of the really big hitters from France, Spain and the New World and been kind enough to explain what it is I was actually drinking. I've traveled in Rioja and Valdepenas and seen and tasted some beauties. But, actually despite all that I don't actually know a great deal about it. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing in this case it means stasis. The last few years I've drunk what I've previously tasted and liked and very rarely migrated into anything else.
This afternoon I spent my time reading the Corney and Barrow wine list for 05/06. They are an independent wine merchants and they have been around for centuries (1780 or something). However, they seemed to have dispensed with the stuffiness that you'd think that would entail and as far as I can see have a young passionate set of buyers and tasters that are on the look out for the good and the great. Of course you can spend four grand on a case if your that way inclined but most of their stuff is considerably cheaper and the tasting notes are top notch. The website is a touch antiquated and probably due for an update but there is still plenty of good stuff there including some very handy drinking guides, but if you can get hold of the printed version of the wine list then you're in for a treat with articles on the use of biodynamics in grape cultivation to that perennial argument on screw tops and corks.