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:
16th February, Saturday – GLASGOW, Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Festival at Barrowland Ballroom
23rd February, Saturday – CHELTENHAM, Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Festival at The Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse
A recent figure (shared by Public Health England at a parliamentary debate) highlighted how one third of all the alcohol sold in England is drunk by just four per cent of the population. Their tipple of choice being mainly cheap, high strength drinks such as cider sold in large plastic bottles. Like the ‘White Lightning’ many of us grimly remember drinking as teenagers in the local park. For most, it’s a ‘phase’ to look back on with embarrassment – but for others it continues until their (probably premature) end.
Yep, that’s how serious a problem it is.
At When in Rome, we welcome the idea of a minimum unit price for alcohol across the UK, but we really wish it wasn’t necessary. On a scale from alcoholism to absenteeism, we’re keen to see people bang in the middle: enjoying great wine – or any other high quality drink, one glass at a time – whether poured from a tap or not, though preferably a tap, and better still, one sticking out of a When in Rome box.
Enjoy our wine as the Italians do
We really want you to enjoy our wine as the Italians do. The Italians don’t have a word for hangover – they use the English word, and they only started to use it after Todd Phillips’ 2009 (admittedly brilliant) film of the same name.
People love our high quality box wine. We hear all the time that it’s perfect for parties, picnics. Many people don’t really care that the tap keeps the wine fresh for up to six weeks after opening as it never lasts that long.
One glass at a time
That’s great, but equally a 2.25L box contains 18 small glasses of beautiful craft wine. We simply love the thought of it being enjoyed one sip at a time, from a small glass, with dinner. That’s drinking wine as the Italians do – and it’s why we’re called When in Rome.
Just as Willy Wonka sold candy, but hated gluttony, we are a wine company that wants you to drink less, but better, and we hope our boxes can help.
Personally, I think Veganuary makes a lot more sense than Dry January. The former is a great way to discover how delicious a Vegan diet can be, and even if you then revert to eating dairy and meat, perhaps you’ll eat a little less, or a little better. The latter, on the other hand, is a temporary fix for the excessive drinking that accompanies all too many occasions. I think people should also drink a little less, but a little better. All year round. But I would say that, because I run a premium box wine company.
Just in time for Veganuary, our Merlot, made by the Passarini family near Verona, has been properly certified as a vegan wine. It’s always been vegan, we just had to near nag them to death until they applied for certification. But why is it vegan?
All of our wine producers use “fining agents”, so the wines taste smoother and don’t look cloudy in your glass. Increasingly, wine makers like the Passarini family use clay- and vegetable-based fining agents, though many still continue to prefer those made from milk, egg or gelatine. It’s a personal choice, generally not driven by the debate around veganism but rather the desire to make the best quality wine in the best possible way.
The problem for vegan, or vegetarian, consumers is that there’s no proper system in place to help you figure out what’s vegan and what’s not. Many of our wines are vegan, though so far only the Merlot is properly certified. It’s made near Verona, setting for Romeo and Juliet and surely Italy’s most romantic city. It’s also a delicious Merlot with a light, herbaceous taste. Perhaps Vegan Merlot will improve your sex life?
*Or so this blog post from Bite Size Vegan says, or almost says. Actually, it doesn’t mention vegan wine at all, but it is a good blog. And it does say going vegan will improve your sex life. It’s quite hard to argue with, and flies in the face of the stereotypical virtuous vegan bore, which is generally a myth.
This article has nothing whatsoever to do with #bitcoin. I have nothing smart to say about #bitcoin, but the inner bag that keeps our box wine fresh for six weeks after opening may or may not be described as a bubble. Just like #bitcoin.
I’m just jealous because tons more people will be talking about the cryptocurrency revolution over Christmas dinner this year, whilst pouring wine from single use glass bottles, so we’ve got tons more work to do in 2018 to advance the #boxwinerevolution.
That said, looking back over 2017, if you’d told us this time last year how far we’d have come, we’d probably have been too terrified to believe you. This is how it happened…
January 2017 began with not much more than a clear aspiration and a sketchy business plan. And very little money, traditional or #bitcoin. Various plots and plans were afoot to get people ditching single use wine bottles in favour of boxes.
By April we’d launched The Glitterati – Britain’s first box wine subscription. Our technology is a bit clunky (just like #bitcoin) but the wine is great and we’ve seen a rapid growth in membership.
But life had even bigger plans. In August we got a call from Waitrose. ‘We love what you’re doing. Would you like to meet?’ Around the same time, one of our team noticed that Harvey Nics’ food and drink department in Bristol didn’t contain a single box of wine. The stars were aligned.
On 16th October, four of our wines – Falanghina, Barbera, Nero d’Avola and Sauvignon – launched in Waitrose stores across the UK, on Waitrose Cellar and Waitrose.com. Not long after, Philip Schofield (This Morning’s silver fox) and Joe Fattorini (The Wine Show) were tweeting about us. It’s an honour to have Waitrose endorse the box wine revolution and they genuinely look after smaller suppliers like us.
Less than a month later, our Dolcetto, Refosco and Pinot turned up on the shelves of Harvey Nichols – the first box wine they’d ever sold in over 136 years of trading.
Exciting as it is to work with household names, we’re equally grateful for the support (and occasionally understanding and patience too) from our independent stockists during 2017 – with Vinotopia, More Wine, Webbs of Wychbold and Wolf Wine leading the pack (Sorry!). Thanks to you guys, we’ve had a lot of boxes to shift, and we couldn’t have managed it without the help of our unbelievably awesome logistics partners, CBF and STI Internazionale.
Yes, some great things have happened this year. Especially when you consider it’s only our second year of trading. It’s been a crazy, stressful, awesome, heart-in-the-mouth, exhaustingly exhilarating year. But has it been worth it? Unequivocally, YES.
Ask any small business owner if running a business is hard and you’ll always get a yes with a slightly tired smile. But a smile nevertheless. And When in Rome feels like so more than a business. It’s a movement. It’s the #boxwinerevolution
Who knows what 2018 may bring, we may even start accepting #bitcoin on our website, but in the meantime I’d like to say an almighty thanks to everyone who has helped us on our journey this year. To each and every one of you who has bought our wine, to Waitrose and Harvey Nichols and all the independent wine stores who stock us, to all members of The Glitterati…. and of course to the beautiful wine producers in Italy who work hard all year round making some of the most beautiful wines I’ve ever had the privilege to enjoy. Without you there’d be no When in Rome and no revolution.
The one thing small business owners will always envy salaried employees is the office Christmas party. Free food and drink all night, followed by a full day’s pay for sitting in front of a computer focused on nothing but your own hangover. My Christmas party will be at home, with my family, in my pyjamas. But I’ll have high quality Italian craft wine on tap whenever I want it. Will you?
Merry Christmas to all of our partners, suppliers and customers!
You’d expect winter and vines to be arch enemies wouldn’t you? Not so. Snow-laden vines are a great sight for any producer. Because as the snow melts it hydrates the vines at a really deeply level, which results in gorgeously juicy grapes. The scene above looks out over Franco Roero’s vineyard, home to our award-winning Barbera.
The nearest most of us get to an Italian Christmas is buying a huge panettone that ends up at the back of the cupboard. But we don’t want you missing out on even a sparkle of La Dolce Vita, so we’ve compiled the When in Rome guide on how to ‘Celebrate As The Italians Do… this Christmas’ and, more importantly, which of our wines to pair with food, friends and family.
In the Beginning
Christmas kicks off early in Italy, with the Day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8. On this day the decorations go up and the festive markets open. But things start in earnest on Christmas Eve and run straight through to New Year. Like us, it’s all about family time with cracking food and, if you’re lucky, fabulous wine from the local vineyard.
An Italian Christmas Eve
Everyone travels home on the 24th for the traditional Christmas Eve feast. Called ‘La Vigilia’, it tends to be a lighter affair than the next day’s feast and, crucially, never features any meat. Italian families gather round and enjoy a veritable banquet of seafood (lots of seafood) – think tuna, salted cod, octopus and swordfish – served with antipasti, simple veggie pasta dishes and the obligatory carafe or two of wine.
We don’t think there’s a better white wine to enjoy with your festive canapes and smoked salmon than our Falanghina. Coastal Southern Italy in a glass, it was named by The Telegraph as the best white wine in the UK for under a tenner (per bottle equivalent) last month.
You can buy a 2.25l box (equivalent to 3 bottles) in Waitrose or if you’re expecting lots of visitors why not upgrade to a 5L (equivalent to 6.5 bottles) box? Available on our website.
Most Italian families tuck into veal, chicken and beef on Christmas Day. But not in Le Marche region. This beautiful part of Italy, on the Adriatic Coast, is one of the only places where you’ll find people enjoying a roast Turkey on Christmas Day.
Federico Mencaroni’s Marche Bianco and your Christmas lunch makes the perfect partnership. Made from the Verdicchio grape – one of Italy’s finest – it tastes simply stunning with Roast Turkey and all the trimmings.
Vegan and Veggie Feasts
If you’re pulling together a delicious chestnut-laden roast on the 25th look no further than our smooth-as-silk Dolcetto from Italy’s Piedmont region, an area rich in nut trees and wild mushrooms. In fact, this wine was once a favourite of Queen Anne, to whose reign we owe the act of union that created the UK.
Our hugely popular, de-facto vegan Merlot is also a great red to enjoy with friends and family. It has even been known to convert white wine drinkers to the red side. You have been warned.
But wherever you are, whoever you’re with and whatever you eat this year… have a cool yule.