Changing the way people drink wine here in the UK is an exciting challenge and one that we accept wholeheartedly. If you’re a like-minded soul who shares our passion for great Italian craft wine that defies taste expectations – and want to keep track of the boxed wine revolution via – you can also sign up to receive our monthly news round-ups.

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UPCOMING EVENTS – Chat and taste with us at;

Cheltenham Wine FestivalSaturday 1st April 2017, The Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham

Cheltenham Food & Drink FestivalFriday to Sunday 9th – 11th June 2017, Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham

The Wine Gang, Summer FestivalSaturday 17th June 2017, HAC London

Confessions of a home worker

working from homeThere can’t be many of us who haven’t yet chuckled over the clip of a BBC interview with a rather straight laced expert on South Korea being ruined by his kids, and if you ever work from home and have a family it will have struck a particular chord.

But beyond the laughter, this clip makes a couple of serious points. 1) Why should he be so mortified by his kids appearing? (it happens, just pop them on your lap and solider on for a bit) and 2) I’ve seen plenty of comments about him refusing to change position because he was wearing pyjama trousers beneath the suit jacket (why on earth shouldn’t he?) . Possibly his reaction, and certainly the internet’s reaction, shows – despite the huge tech advances that make it possible – just how persistent are myths about working from home. Or are they myths?

I’ve been working from home full time on When in Rome now for just over three months, and here are my confessions. Bless me Father, for I have:

– Worked all day in my pyjamas

– Deliberately booked evening Skype calls to avoid the kids’ bedtime

– Not had a shower for two days running

– Enjoyed listening to awful traffic reports on the radio from the comfort of my kitchen

That said, we’ve just spent two months preparing to launch the Glitterati, the UK’s (& possibly the world’s) first box wine club, and I’ve worked several weekends and many evenings until the small hours. Thanks to not commuting, this is actually compatible with family life and doesn’t make me miserable. I’ve also had some great ideas for the future of the business thanks to comments from my wife, neighbours and kids (“but what if people don’t like wine Daddy?”) .

In short, for those of you who don’t work from home, all your suspicions about those who do are true, but if it makes you a more productive and happy employee, so what?

As When in Rome continues to grow, we’ll shortly be looking for an office (as, probably, will accidental internet sensation Robert Kelly), but I’ll continue to keep home working in the mix for me and everyone else on the team.

La Box Epoque – France’s love affair with the wine box

I5DYJO841_web France is the epitome of civilisation – the bread is so natural you have to run home from the bakers to eat it before it turns stale, strangers kiss each other on the cheeks when they first meet, they all use bidets.

But something very sinister is going on in their supermarkets, and not just in the cheese aisle, where lumps of furry not-quite-dead stuff look you straight in the eye and dare you to buy them. It’s worse. Wine bottles are disappearing.

At When in Rome we spend a lot of our time (and marketing budget) reminding people that the fabulous wine they drank in Italy probably came from a carafe, but there’s an even more tangible example closer to home. Box wine in France. When did you last go in to a French supermarket? Did you notice that almost half the wine aisle proudly displayed boxes? Yep. Box wine now accounts for fully 38% of retail wine sales in France, compared to just 3% in the UK.

Sure, some of it is plonk. But increasingly, it is really good too – take a look at Bibovino, whose top of the range wine box costs over €100 and who counts Gerard Depardieu amongst its fans (thank God a man who drinks 14 bottles a day has finally switch to boxes!). Whereas box wine in the UK was a passing fad in the 1980s (just like the bidet), in France it has firmly taken root and continues to go from strength to strength. There’s even an annual best-wine-in-box competition, which When in Rome has just entered.

Of course, the French know nothing about wine. If the Romans hadn’t have invaded and shown them how to make it, France would only be known for its temperamental bread and cheese. But if, like me, you quietly admire the French for both their joie de vivre and their savoir vivre, isn’t it time you tried box wine?

Stop doing coke. Start reusing glass bottles

glass recycling EU environmental legislation is a prime example of Brussels “red tape” that many hope will be removed after Brexit. So hang on to your shares in Coca Cola UK, whose extensive lobbying against the EU’s planned Deposit Return Schemes has recently been exposed by Sky News. DRS are an attempt to return to times gone by, when people could collect a modest deposit for returning glass bottles to the point of purchase. Great for the environment, but terrible for the likes of Coca Cola, who’d incur a lot of cost and inconvenience shipping bottles back to their bottling plants.

Hang on though, isn’t most glass recycled these days anyway – so why do you need a DRS? The answer is, because reuse is better than recycling. In green speak, recycling is the last of the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. And this is especially true of glass.

Ok, I admit glass is cool. Glass in windows, example, is great. It lasts almost forever, lets the sunshine in (passive solar heating in yet more green speak) and gives people the joy of watching the beautiful outside world from the comfort of their home. Glass can be used to make solar panels. Glass is also infinitely recyclable, whereas plastic is technically downcycled i.e. drink containers turned into carpets etc

The problem is the glass wrapped around your favourite drink. When opening a bottle of wine or any other drink, the chances are you’re more concerned about the quality of its contents than the packaging. Yet drinks bottles account for the overwhelming majority of the glass that’s recycled – which in turn uses a gargantuan amount of energy , because glass generally melts at a temperature above 1000°C, making it more energy intensive to recycle even than aluminium, which melts at 660°C.

So it’s time to start reusing glass bottles! At When in Rome, we’d obviously love you to use ours, again and again. Even for water. And we also love Milk bottles, which are used an average of 13 times before being recycled. But in reality , we need a nationwide DRS to encourage reuse, reduce litter and dave energy. Let’s hope there’s room for it even after we leave the EU. Oh, and stop drinking Coke, that’ll do you some good.

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Dry January? Or drink as the Italians do?

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You won’t need a finely tuned nose to detect a whiff of desperation for people to buy more wine in January in this article. That’s because January is a terrible month to work in the wine industry – you hardly sell a drop, yet for some reason your staff and suppliers still ask to be paid. Of course, I can’t claim this is unfair. January is the famine that follows December’s feast.

Whether or not you believe in detox – I don’t (especially now I work in the wine industry) and there are many in the medical profession who would agree – it’s most common in January because December is the time when Britain’s problem with binge drinking looms largest. All year round, in fact, over half of all the alcohol consumed by adults in the UK is consumed during a binge drinking session. To corroborate this, I could show you the expressions on many peoples’ faces when I tell them that a 5-litre box of wine can last for up to six weeks after opening.

Encouragingly – whether it’s because of social media, less disposable income or better education – young Brits seem to be developing much more sensible drinking habits. Though still not as smart as the Italians. Of the 28 nationalities in the EU, Italians are the most likely to have a drink every day, yet the least likely to binge drink (I’m not going to tell you where the UK sits in this table, but suffice to say that if Brexit ever happens, the EU average is going to look a whole lot better).

In short, I encourage you to do as the Italians do: drink one or two glasses of wine a day all year round – preferably Italian and preferably from a box – but don’t get drunk unless the occasion really, really merits it. My recommendation for Dry January? A nice dry Cortese or a Barbera perhaps?