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.
UPCOMING EVENTS – Come and say hello and enjoy a tipple with us at:
Harvey Nichols, Edinburgh – 12th May, Saturday, 12 – 5pm
John Lewis Foodhall, Oxford Street – 19th May, Saturday, 3 – 6pm
Festival of Wine, Glasgow – 2nd June, Saturday
Italy Fine Wine Encounter, Landmark Hotel London – 2nd June, Saturday
Wine Gang Summer Festival, London – 30th June, Saturday
Vinotopia Summer Tasting, Tetbury – 6th July, Friday
Brighton Waitrose – 2nd & 3rd August, Thursday & Friday
Oxford Wine Festival – 7th & 8th Sept, Friday & Saturday
Red Cross Call My Bluff, Saddler’s Hall, London – 5th October, Friday
Festival of Wine, London – 13th October, Saturday
Festival of Wine, Edinburgh – 3rd November, Saturday
Of all the accolades picked up by When in Rome, scooping a Gold Medal at the London Wine Competition for our beautiful Nero d’Avola is the most exciting yet. This innovative event is judged by top UK sommeliers working for the Ritz, Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal, as well as by leading supermarket wine buyers. Uniquely, medals are awarded based on a combination of Quality, Value and Packaging.
Of the 350 wines selected for a medal, just 16 scored over 90 points out of 100, enough to win Gold. A quick Google of the full list of Gold medal winners shows what a posh bunch of wines our Nero box is rubbing shoulders with – most are around £30 for a single use bottle, compared to £25.99 for the three bottles’ worth of vino packed into our little box. Pick one up now at your local Waitrose or on waitrose.com.
Don’t judge a wine by its cover, join the #boxwinerevolution
Nero d’Avola is the box wine revolution’s best selling wine (by far). This a glorious red from Sicily is now enjoying a much-deserved renaissance – and just last week, Rob went over there to meet Giovanni, the man who makes it for us.
The Nero d’Avola grape is one of the oldest indigenous varieties you’ll find on this beautiful Mediterranean island – a landmass that sits horizontal to the toe of Italy’s boot on a map – and over the past few years, Nero d’Avola’s star has really begun to shine.
But it wasn’t always this way.
Back in the 80’s local wine producers here on the island faced a predicament. You see, when grapes get to bask in the amount of sun that was shining here back then, the wine produced enjoys a much higher percentage.
Now, this posed a problem to the Sicilian winemakers who faced a choice to either a) sell and bottle it here on Sicily (remember this was the 80s when most popular wines were either dull, dry or German) or b) sell it to winemakers in Northern Italy who could mix it with their wines and increase their potency.
They chose the latter.
Meet Giovanni, the man behind our Nero d’Avola
Thanks to a budding emergence of exciting young winemakers – including our very own Giovanni (pictured) who are working hard to re-establish Sicilian wines as respectable in their own right – Nero d’Avola is enjoying a well deserved place in the spotlight. It’s been our best seller since the early days and was the first wine Waitrose asked us for when they started stocking When in Rome.
Over in Sicily Giovanni’s Nero d’Avola is enjoyed by lucky locals who pop by the winery with a refillable container and the rest is sold via independent wine stores across Italy and When in Rome in the UK.
Giovanni is young in terms of winemaker standards. But what he lacks in experience he makes up for in passion for what he does and the island he does it on. Before moving to Sant’Antonio, Giovanni worked for a large sherry corporation. Now he’s chief winemaker for Cantina Sociale Sant’Antonio, a wine co-operative that buys grapes from around 300 local small farms and turns them into our beautiful tasting Nero d’Avola using organic growing methods, which he’s passionate about. Not only do they preserve the soil, but why spend money on sprays and pesticides if nature can do the good for you, right? But like many of the winemakers we work with, Giovanni remains skeptical – in a way only the Italians know how – of all the hoops and costs involved in gaining organic certification.
Besides, there’s a far more pressing concern that keeps him awake at night: namely the future of wine co-operatives in this area.
The growers’ co-operatives are very much the backbone of the industry here in Trapani – it’s the European province with the largest percent of land used for growing grapes – and Giovanni, like many other young winemakers, are worried for their future with so many growers being bought out by huge wine colossus’.
Without doubt, it’s this devil that sits on his shoulder each day and drives him forward. Pushing him to make the best wines Sicily offers. They do say the devil makes work for idle hands. But it looks like he makes it for busy ones too.
Two years ago, When in Rome was still fresh out of the starting blocks as a bleary eyed start-up. No one asked us if our wines were vegan back then. Now we get asked two or three times a week.
In June 2016, the Vegan Society announced that over half a million people in the UK had ditched meat, fish and dairy in favour of a plant-based diet. Embracing their new-found vegan status for a plethora of reasons including animal welfare, physical health and concerns about the environment.
During the same year, Google searches for ‘vegan’ rose by thirty-two percent [wish we could say the same about ‘box wine’] and two whole Veganuarys later we’d hazard a guess that figure is even higher. By a long way.
But ARE your wines vegan?
Yes, around half our wines are vegan friendly – including our Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Refosco, Falanghina and Pinot Grigio – and we’ve just added a vegan status on our online shop to make things clearer.
What makes a wine vegan or veggie?
A wine being ‘vegan’ or ‘veggie’ has nothing to do with the ingredients that go into making it. That’s only grapes and yeast, after all. What actually makes the difference is a part of the wine production process called ‘fining’.
Now, we all love a nice clear glass of wine don’t we? Bits and bobs are for scrumpy cider drinkers, not wine lovers. But getting rid of sediment and other visible molecules that would cloud our wine if left to their own devices is called ‘fining’ – and the four main fining agents used for this are albumin (egg protein), casein (milk protein), gelatin (animal protein) and isinglass (fish protein).
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that two are vegetarian – and none are vegan.
Cheerfully, we’re speaking to more and more winemakers across Italy who are starting to use clay, charcoal and vegetable based proteins.
The box wine revolution has certainly come a long way in two years. I wonder how different things will be for vegans and box wine in another two years?
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, gender parity is still over 200 years away.
That’s shocking. But we weren’t shocked.
Winemaking is very much a male-dominated industry in Italy – and most other places for that matter. And we know this because Donatella Martincigh is the only female winemaker we work with.
We hope to meet more like Donatella. But we don’t want to wait 200 years!
Best Sauvignon in a box… on the planet
Over the last 30 years, Donatella Martincigh has transformed her family’s 20-hectare farm into an award-winning winery. Last year her Sauvignon was named the best Sauvignon in a box – in the world – when it was awarded Gold at the 2017 Concours International Wine in a Box festival.
Back when she was a bambino, Donatella’s mama used to put a little drink of red wine in her bottle (shhhhh… don’t tell Annabel Karmel whatever you do!).
Now she’s a fully graduated sommelier, but Donatella prefers to call herself a winemaker.
On our website we describe her Rosato as ‘A seize the moment wine – definitely not one for the cellar.’
It’s in this vein that we raise our glasses to celebrate all existing and budding female winemakers this week.
In fact it’s a double celebration of all things female, alongside International Women’s Day (on Thursday) it’s also Mother’s Day (on Sunday).
£10 off a box of Donatella’s Rosato this Mother’s Day
To celebrate, we’d like to give you £10 towards a box of Donatella’s beautiful Rosato to enjoy with friends or give to your Mama this Mother’s Day.
Grab yourself a 2.25L box (equivalent to three bottles) for just £17. No special code required, simply pop a box (or two) into your basket and the discount will apply automatically. Offer runs until 11th March (Mother’s Day) while stocks last!