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Mick Hucknall, the famous Sicilian winemaker who not many people realise is also the lead singer of Simply Red, is visiting Villa Maria's Auckland Winery in February to perform his greatest hits. Rolling Back the Beers Wines & Spirits Prices will doubtless join Margins Too Tight to Mention on the set list.

It's an easy mistake to make. You're a lorry driver and your delivery notes tell you to take 12 barrels of lager to Windsor Castle. So you dust off your overalls

Our friends at Smirnoff haven't been wasting time twiddling their thumbs during the summer silly season.

Champagne house Louis Roederer is investigating a novel way of storing wine - it has immersed several dozen bottles of its Brut Premier wine in the sea at the French port of St Malo. The idea is that the constant temperature of 10ºC, the gentle movement of the water and the lack of light would make the sea bed a perfect cellar.

Hooray for the enlightened vignerons of Ribera del Duero, who have produced a wine called Mundo Gay "to take a small step in making homosexuality normal", according to reports.

First we had Cornershop, an Asian band who, for a time, had the nation tapping its feet to the catchy Brimful of Asha. Now, we're delighted to report, a group called Offlicence have released their debut album, Desilution, with contributions from Apache Indian.

I thought the prices seemed remarkably cheap for a guest house in Californian wine country, writes Lee Saged, of Hetton-le-Hole. "As a devotee of Blossom Hill I was desperate to explore the birthplace of my favourite tipple and when I stumbled on the website promising twin rooms on the estate for £25 a night - with a packed lunch for £5 - I ordered my ticket to San Francisco there and then.

Waitrose earned itself a polite round of applause from the wine trade when it announced recently that it would be planting its own vineyards. But was it really a first for the UK retail trade?

Et tu Brute? As if the government and the cops and the pub trade and the thought police weren't enough, the latest attack on off-licences has come from the Society of Independent Brewers - the very people working to get local beers into shops through their Direct Delivery Scheme. SIBA has commissioned spoof reproductions of 18th-century satirist William Hogarth's famous engraving Gin Lane. "Binge Lane" shows drunken tramps, fighting youths and scantily-clad schoolgirls outside an off-licence cunningly named Beer Gin Booze - while "Pub Street" shows a collection of overweight bourgeois guzzling pints of ale in a much more sedate environment. SIBA chairman Peter Amor said: "The pub is practically the only place where you can drink draught beer, and people's behaviour there is subject to strict controls by the licensee and by the presence of mature, well-behaved regular customers who wouldn't stand for any kind of trouble." That's right folks, just keep telling yourselves that.

Now that Mosquito devices have been demonised by the Children's Commissioner, beleaguered retailers may be forced to look for alternatives to high-pitched squeals to deter menacing kids from hanging around their forecourts. The answer is simple: try to out-teenage the teenagers. Write all signs in laboured text language ("CR8S OF BREZR 4 10 QWID"), change the shop name to something like Four-pack Shakur's, and make embarrassingly dad-like conversation with da kids about the graffiti mural of Jay Zed you're planning for your shutters. Within a week the only under-25s in your shop will be harmless, bookish spods buying ruby port for their grans.

Sarah and Sparky Marquis, the winemakers behind McLaren Vale's Mollydooker Wines, are shaking up the wine world with a video showing how to get rid of excess nitrogen in their red wines - now to be seen on

You ain't heard nothing yet

11 January, 2008

It's four years since the Californian wine film Sideways came out, and Merlot sales still haven't quite recovered from their lambasting by lead character Miles, played by Paul Giamatti.

TALKING HEADS

11 January, 2008

Mark Archer

Director, Vinology, Stratford-Upon-Avo