It’s all in the best possible taste

If you are involved in importing or retailing wines and have a tasting or dinner coming up anywhere in Ireland, please send brief details to blake[dot]creedon[at]examiner[dot]ie as soon as possible. Ta!

Wine fairs and tastings

Thursday October 28 —  Tuscan treats at Blackrock Castle Wine Club

Bubble Brothers is celebrating its appointment as agents for Avignonesi estate wines with a Blackrock Castle Wine Club session presented by Alessio Guidi. It all takes place at Blackrock Castle Bar & Trattoria, beginning at 7.30 pm. You can also avail of the special €20 deal to ‘dine before you wine’ at the trattoria from 6pm to 7pm.

These events do fill up fast so book now on 01 4316000 or  Non-members can join for one night for €25.

Thursday November 4On The Grapevine Wine Fair, Dalkey

Another hundred wines (phew!) will be open for tasting between from 6pm and 9pm at Fitzpatrick’s Castle Hotel for On The Grapevine’s wine fair.  Tickets are €10.  The shop will be offering discounts of up to 25% on some wines  on the night. Drop in to the shop on St Patrick’s Road, phone 01 235 3054, or see for details.

Two dinners with wines from Bodegas Valdemar

Bodegas Valdemar wines are on show in Galway and Straffan

Wednesday November 10 —  Bodegas Valdemar dinner at The g.

There’s luxury on a remarkably tight budget on offer at the g Hotel when Cristina Alvarez Flores presents a five-course gourmet wine dinner with wines from Bodegas Valdemar on November 10.

Wines from that most upmarket of posh Rioja houses will be teamed with executive chef Stefan Matz’s menu drawn from “exquisite organic Connemara smokehouse smoked salmon, fresh fish caught in Galway Bay and quality cuts of meat from McGeough’s butchers in Oughterard.”  Couldn’t put it better myself.  I don’t know the details of the menu but am drooling at the thought of McGeough’s succulent air-dried lamb which I think is particularly well suited to a well-made Rioja.

Tickets are a very reasonable €69 per person including a welcome reception and a five course meal with wine. To book, phone 091 865200 or see

Friday November 12 —  Bodegas Valdemar dinner and B&B at Barberstown Castle.

Barberstown Castle’s website is a little less forthcoming on the details but broadly you can expect something similar to the above, relocated to Straffan, Co Kildare. They are offering a combined dinner and B&B package for €149 per person sharing. And while you can’t book dinner alone online, give them a bell and it’s yours for €75.

While you’re at it, take a look at some of Bodegas Valdemar’s Irish retailers  including James Nicholson and SimplyWines and of course the winery itself.


Valdemar's Alto Cantabri vineyard

November 14 Corkscrew Winter Wine Fair

This is the annual winter wine fair of one of the best remaining independent wine shops in Dublin city centre, The Corkscrew on Chatham Street. A hundred-plus wines will be open for tasting from 1pm to 6pm at the Westbury Hotel just around the corner. Tickets are €25, and proceeds go to Cheeverstown House, Templeogue, which offers education and support to children with intellectual and other disabilities from pre-school age up. Drop into the shop, phone 01 674 5731 or see for details.

November 18 Christmas Wine Fair – Cases Wine Warehouse, Galway

Fifteen importers will be pouring 120 wines and beers from around the world for your delectation. 6.30pm to 10pm in the store on the Tuam Road — which Tomás Clancy named his Sunday Business Post Wine Warehouse of The Year, no less. Tickets are €20 and all the proceeds go to Console, the charity which offers counselling and support to families who have lost a loved one to suicide. 091 764 701

November 18The 10th Cork Wine Fair

Hosted by O’Donovan’s, this annual event is a massive affair. This year’s takes place from 4pm to 9pm at the Clarion Hotel, Lapp’s Quay, Cork.  Some 400 wines from O’Donovans’ impressive list will be available to sample, along with beers and tasty food samples. Plus, for the really dedicated wine fan, there will be a handful of focused masterclasses conducted by Jean Smullen and John McDonnell.  Tickets are €10 and available from any of the 15 O’Donovans branches in Cork City and County. All proceeds go to the Cork Simon Community.

November 24Gibney’s Wine Fair,  the Grand Hotel, Malahide

The people at Gibney’s of Malahide know what they’re talking about: This year they won the NOffLA Off-Licence of the Year Award for their third time, and their annual fair is one of the most highly anticipated wine events in the calendar.  Get tickets (€15) and further details in store, on 01 8450606, or via All proceeds from ticket sales go to local schools.

Late November / early December Blake’s Favourite Fifty Australians

MY column and blog can never provide what they’re intended to inspire — the pleasure of enjoying  good company and a decent glass of wine. Well, here’s a rare opportunity for me to thrust a glass into your hand, saying ‘here, try this’.

Wine Australia, which represents much of the industry, has given me free rein to put together a list of wines from down under.  All 50 or so will be open to sample in a Cork city centre location (to be confirmed) for one evening only. Tickets will be €20 and booking opens in mid-November.

I’ve long been convinced by the depth and breadth of quality wines made in Australia. But the process of whittling down the prospective wines (it was at 90 or so just a few weeks ago) has come as an eye-opener even to me: Trust me, there are all sorts of treats on the final list. Scrap that. Don’t trust me – come along and suck it and see. It promises to be a fun evening.

I’ll be updating the details here as soon as it’s all confirmed.

November 26 to 28Taste of Christmas, the Convention Centre, North Wall Quay, Dublin

This is a bit different to the other fairs. Sponsored by Marks & Spencer, it’s being run by the people behind the Taste Of Dublin and Taste Of Cork festivals.

The Convention Centre is the venue for Taste Of Christmas

The centrepiece is a 50-minute live show in the 2000-seater auditorium.  Presenter Hector Ó hEochagáin will be mixing it up with chefs Kevin Dundon and Gino D’Acampo and guests (including Heston Blumenthal) who will be demonstrating inspiration for cooking and entertaining.

There are also open-ended tastings organised along the lines of the Taste festivals where customers buy ‘florins’ to exchange for food and drinks. Tickets start at €19.50.  The whole thing is quite a bit more structured than regular wine fairs, so do phone 0818 30 00 30 or look up for details. ♦

++++++++++++++++   I’ve moved a handful of previous events down here just for the record an ting   ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
October bank holiday weekend Pick your own Hallowe’en applesCELEBRATE Hallowe’en (and reconnect your concept of food to the field it came from) by taking yourself and the children to pick your own apples at Con Traas’ farm between Cahir and Clonmel over the bank holiday weekend — 10am to 5pm on October  23 and 24. These are the youngest, smallest trees on the farm, so the fruit are  easy to reach. You only pay for what you pick.  Phone 052 7441459 and see  www.theapplefarm.comfor details.If you’re still not convinced, or if you’re wondering why yer man is holding forth about apples  on a wine blog, please take a look at this postfrom earlier this year.
♦ TOMORROW, Wednesday October 20 , Cases Wine Warehouse, Tuam Road, Galway, is hosting a  food and wine night at Cava Restaurant, on Dominick Street, Galway. The focus is on the food and wine of Mallorca, with a five-course tasting menu of Mallorcan tapas, created by JP McMahon of Cava, accompanied by wines from the Anima Negra winery, presented by winemaker Miguel Angel Cerda.One of the many details that tickled my interest in this event is the dessert course. You can choose between a PX (that uniquely Spanish unctuous dessert wine made with the Pedro Ximénez grape) and a special edition Tyrconnell whiskey conditioned in Anima Negra wine casks. Cool or what?Dinner starts at 7pm. Get details and tickets  (€37.50) from Cases Wine Warehouse, Riverside Commercial Estate, Galway, 091 764701 or on♦ Tuesday October 19 Blindfold tasting dinner, Augustine’s restaurant, Cork
Cork City Slow Food convivium is hosting a blindfold tasting dinner tonight from 6.45pm at Augustine’s restaurant in the Clarion Hotel on Lapps Quay. The idea is that by temporarily removing the cues we get from one sense, sight, we intensify our focus on the others — touch, taste, smell, and even hearing. After each course, chef proprietor Brendan Cashman and sommelier Frank Schiltkamp will discuss the dish with the participants.Normally costing €25, this special edition of Augustine’s tasting menu costs €40, or €35 for Slow Food members, and it is accompanied by a glass of wine. To book, email Elke on and see

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