• Dublin Wine Rooms Courses

    Exclusive Tasting Evening

    Join Paolo in Dublin Wine Rooms in The Dublin Docklands

    This is your chance to dine with food legend Paolo Tullio in the famous Dublin Wine Rooms and enjoy some stunning food and wine pairings, with a 6 course dinner, on Thursday, July 3rd 2014.

    Book your seats now Online Book Form                         Dublin Wine Rooms,IFSC, Dublin, 1

  • A dummy’s guide

    A dummy’s guide to wine appreciation

    A new crop of female oenophiles are keen to point out an appreciation of the drink isn’t just for snobs.

    Chrissie Russell

    Published 20/06/2014

    Anne McHale takes note in a vineyard

    There are probably plenty of ladies who reckon their Friday drinking habits are enough to earn them the title of ‘masters of wine’, but a growing number of women can officially claim the status.

    This month, 302 candidates sat the Institute of Masters of Wine’s rigorous exams in pursuit of earning a prestigious ‘MW’ qualification – the highest level of wine knowledge.

    Of them, 171 are female and if they pass, they’ll join the 91 other women who make up the elite ranks of the world’s 295 Masters of Wine.

    One of the new crop of female oenophiles is Belfast-born Anne McHale (33). She became a Master of Wine in September 2013 earning accolades for outstanding achievement and the coveted Bollinger Medal for top marks in the tasting exams. For the past eight years, she’s worked in London as a Wine Education Specialist at Berry Bros & Rudd, the UK’s oldest wine and spirit merchant.


    She does agree that the wine world is starting to shake off its old boys’ club image, but a label she’s even more keen to challenge is the misapprehension that wine is just for snobs.

    “Wine gets a bad press because some people choose to be precious about it, but that’s about the people, not the wine,” she insists.

    She explains: “There’s a lot of knowledge to get your head around and this can make it fertile ground for show-offs, but the reality is anyone can be a great wine taster.”

    It’s an unpretentious attitude she promotes when leading wine schools at Berry Bros & Rudd and also in her own enjoyment of wine. “I’m perfectly happy to drink ordinary wine as long as it tastes decent enough,” she says.

    Chenin wine.jpg

    “The only thing I would say though is it’s really worth spending more than the bare minimum on a bottle. These days taxes make up so much of the price that if you buy a really cheap bottle you’re hardly spending more than 40c on the liquid itself.”

    Anne attributes her interest in wine to her dad who established the first wine society at Queen’s University Belfast. Despite not being impressed by her first taste of booze (a glass of Champagne on her 18th birthday), listening to him talk passionately about wine encouraged her to sign up for the wine society while studying French at Cambridge University. She honed her tastes during a year in France as part of her degree.

    “After university I moved to London and applied for any job that needed a French speaker. As luck would have it, the first job I got was as an administrator for a tiny French wine agency. They sponsored me to get my first Wine and Spirit Education Trust qualification and my interest went from there,” she says.

    Now Anne, who reckons her death row glass of wine would be a “really sublime white Burgundy, such as a Le Montrachet”, has an average working week that involves presenting to wine schools, tutored tastings and hosting dinners. She recently helped film in-flight wine guides for Virgin Atlantic (her company supplies Virgin’s wine on-board) and regularly takes staff training trips to wine regions around the world.

    “Sounds awful doesn’t it?” she laughs. “It’s a great job.” But she warns that anyone thirsty for the same success faces the challenge of four three-hour written theory exams, three 12-wine blind tasting exams and a 10,000 word dissertation to become a Master of Wine.

    Still, there must be plenty of drinking involved? “There’s lots of spitting out of wine rather than drinking,” Anne says. “You tend to find that you can’t concentrate so well if you swallow it!”

    App vineyard Sicily.jpg

    Anne’s guide to bluffing your way through the basics

    Know your climates

    Like fresh, crisp, zingy styles of wine? Go for cool climates like the north of France or New Zealand. If you prefer richer, softer styles then look for warm climates like Southern Europe, California or Australia.


    It’s not just whites that are suited to chilling. In summer, red wines, like Beaujolais, that are low in tannin (the grippy, astringent substance that comes from grape skins) also benefit from being lightly chilled.

    Grape basics

    Sauvignon Blancs are crisp and zingy whites, Chablis are smoother and creamier. Pinot Noirs are light reds with Malbec, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignons at the richer end of the scale.

    Restaurant etiquette

    When a waiter asks you to taste the wine, they’re asking you to check if the wine has been affected by cork taint. This is a mouldy, musty smell that affects some bottles sealed under a natural cork. If you notice a musty smell, ask for another bottle.

    Food and wine

    Pairing food and wine is a personal choice, but match red meats and hard cheeses with tannic red wines from grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz and match the richness of food to wine – delicate fish would be over-whelmed by a rich red wine.

    Irish Independent



  • Cooley Whiskey at DIT 2014

    Greenore 8 Year-Old Single Grain Whiskey €36.99




    One of the few Irish whiskeys available in this style.

    Grain whiskey is made from maize which Cooley distillery sources in France, which produces a very smooth and sweet flavour. Matured in first fill ex-bourbon barrels and released in small batches. This whiskey gives you a new found respect for grain whiskey!

    Of all the Beams/Suntory’s Irish whiskeys, I think Greenore is the best for use with mixers or in cocktails due to its very smooth, light, sweet flavours with hints of vanilla.

    Tasting Note: Nose: Soft, sweet corn, delicious hints of bourbon.   Taste: Rich, soft oils, melt-in-the-mouth grain and just a hint of barley for good measure. Finish: Crisps up as the oak returns.

    Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey €29.99


    Kilbeggan is Beam’s/Suntory’s  best-selling Irish whiskey brand. A blend of malt and grain whiskeys from Cooley. Matured in ex American oak casks.

    Tasting note:  Nose: Sweet caramel, vanilla and toasted wood aromas.Taste: A soft smooth entry leads to sweet golden raisin, caramel and peppery spice flavours.                           Finish: Creamy vanilla and toasted oak.

     Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey €37.99

    Beam’s /Suntory’s unpeated single malt, named after the famous racehorse that won the Derby at odds of 100-1.  Matured in ex Bourbon oak casks.

     Tasting note: Nose: Fresh, malty & fruit aroma with notes if citrus and spice. Taste: Smooth & well-structured with honey notes, the tang of oranges & lemons with a strong malt presence. Finish: A delicately dry finish with malt becoming more dominant towards the end.

    Connemara Irish Single Malt €42.49

    Beam/Suntory/Cooley Distillery’s peated Irish single malt.

    Connemara Peated Single Malt has won more Gold Medals in the last decade than any other Irish Whiskey!                                                                                                                                                                   Double distilled from peated malt in 2 pot stills in Cooley. Matured in ex Bourbon oak casks.

    Tasting note: Nose: Smoky peatiness balanced by hints of honey and dried fruits.  Taste: Smooth with a honey sweet start, followed by malt and fruit flavours giving way to full bodied peat.  Finish: Golden honey notes and deep peaty finish.

    Whiskeys supplied by John Cashman, Global Brand Ambassador for Cooley Distillery at Beam Global/Suntory for this talk & tasting at DIT School of Culinary Arts & Food Technology, Cathal Brugha Street, Dublin  on 16th June,2014 for members of the Irish Guild  of Sommeliers  & RMA Teachers Union of Ireland members. Thanks to John Cashman  for supplying the whiskies & Mike O’ Connor, Assistant Head of School of Culinary Arts & Food Technology for arranging the venue.

    Talk & tasting given by Andy O’ Gorman, Secretary Irish Guild of Sommeliers.

    Flaming Pig €36.99



    Hand crafted whiskey naturally infused with cloves, black pepper-corns & cinnamon.

    Great in shots, over ice or in a variety of fiery cocktails.

    Cocktail: The Bonded Liberties (2014)

    Recipe by Michael Griffiths, Bartenders Association of Ireland


    4cl Flaming Pig

    2 cl Liqueur a la Voilette

    2 cl Finest Call Passion Fruit Puree

    6 cl Finest Call Sweet and Sour

    Dash of Dr. Adam Elmegirab Spanish Bitters

    1.5 cl Pasteurised Egg White


    “The Great Whiskey Fire of Dublin of 1875 is legendary. On a Saturday night, just after 8pm, vast flames lit up the sky above Malone’s Whiskey & Spice warehouse in the Liberties and spiced flaming liquid flowed through the streets like lava.


    Sgs stampeded down through the streets, police and firefighters struggled to get control, while the locals stopped to scoop up the flame-licked whiskey in their hats and boots.

    Many say it was a gift from God, but all agree it was the lone squeal of the Flaming Pig that saved the city that night.”

    Thanks to Joey Shore, Brand Manager, Richmond Marketing, 1st Floor Harmony Court, Harmony Row Dublin, 2 for supplying Flaming Pig.


    Prices of all products are as per Celtic Whiskey Shop, Dawson Street, Dublin, 1.

     Whiskey 2Whiskey 3Whiskey 6

    Whiskeys supplied by John Cashman, Global Brand Ambassador for Cooley Distillery at Beam Suntory Inc. for this talk & tasting at DIT School of Culinary Arts & Food Technology, Cathal Brugha Street, Dublin  on 16th June,2014 for members of the Irish Guild  of Sommeliers  & RMA Teachers Union of Ireland members. Thanks to John Cashman  for supplying the whiskies & Mike O’ Connor, Assistant Head of School of Culinary Arts & Food Technology for arranging the venue.

    Thanks to Joey Shore, Brand Manager, Richmond Marketing, 1st Floor Harmony Court, Harmony Row Dublin, 2 for supplying Flaming Pig.

    Talk & tasting given by Andy O’ Gorman, Secretary Irish Guild of Sommeliers.



  • Barefoot

    IF MICHAEL Houlihan had followed the advice of his Irish-born grandparents he would have settled for a secure, pensionable job and a fairly comfortable lifestyle – and there’s a chance we would not be sipping the near nine million cases of wine sold in Ireland each year
    Luckily, for him and our taste buds, he broke ranks and with lifelong partner Bonnie Harvey took the plunge and stepped in to the unknown world of wine-making.The couple – who founded California’s award-winning Barefoot Wines almost 30 years ago – pride themselves in developing a product and brand that took the snobbery out of wine and turned it into a fun everyday item in our shopping trolleys.

    While tight-lipped about the profit made when Barefoot was sold to E&J Gallo in 2005, the pair are still living off that success by penning a business bestseller and passing their wisdom on to students and entrepreneurs worldwide – including at the ICSB World Entrepreneurship Conference in Dublin this week.

    “Ireland is a country of entrepreneurs. When you come to the States you see Irish entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is what has changed America from the the Depression to what it is now,” said Houlihan.

    “If you are an entrepreneur there’s a good chance of your business getting acquired by a large company, which means there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Houlihan said.

    “If you can establish a market for your product somebody will buy it, because they don’t want the other guy to buy it.”

    By the time the couple sold Barefoot Wines – described like seeing a child graduate from college – some 600,000 cases were stacked on shelves across the US and in 28 countries – including Ireland where Houlihan’s ancestors had migrated from in the late 1890s.

    But his grandparents – Limerickman John Francis Houlihan and Nelly Donohue from Donegal who met and fell in love on a cattle steamer from Cork to Ellis Island – had warned him against setting up shop.

    “They wanted you to play it safe, to get a civil service job and have security,” said the business consultant.

    “My grandmother was not happy I quit my job.”

    The hardworking couple had settled in San Francisco and vowed to educate their only son, John Charles, who went on to become an attorney and Mayor of Oakland, a town across the bay.

    John Francis managed a horse stable in the city when it was devastated by the great earthquake of 1906. In return for saving the then mayor’s horses from a blaze he was appointed beat cop in the city’s Irish ghetto, Mission District, until he retired in 1941.

    “He became judge, jury and executor,” added Houlihan, who plans to trace his ancestral roots next week.

    Hard work was also the motto in the Harvey household in Portland, Oregon.


    Her mother Mable was a welder for liberty ships during World War II – a real- life version of Rosie the Riveter, the cultural icon which represented American women who worked in factories during the war.

    “That’s when women started making a living,” said Harvey, a business graduate.

    “They were given an opportunity to make a living. It was quite a shock for them when the war ended and the men came back looking to take their jobs away.”

    It was actually Harvey who first spotted the opportunity to enter the wine business.

    She was working with small business in the wine growing region Sonoma County when she met a grape grower owed $300,000 – equivalent to $1m today – by a nearly bankrupt wine-maker.

    With little or no cash – but the $300,000 worth of wine and bottling facilities still on site – they started running the business from the laundry room of their modest home.

    “We knew nothing about the wine industry when we started,” Harvey recalled.

    “We took over the debt of the winery, the bulk wine and the bottling services and thought we’ll bottle it up, sell it and pay the grower back. How hard can it be?”

    The business plan was to repay the farmer – now award-winning wine maker Mark Lyon – and move on within three to four years.

    “It took 20 years, so I guess it was five times harder than we thought,” she said.

    Believing the average consumer was scared by wine snobbery, they set about creating a niche – a “Tuesday and Wednesday night wine” for everyday people like beer drinkers.

    They developed a soft, easy drinking, non-vintage product with Lyon’s advice and hired winemaker Jennifer Wall, who went on to win several accolades.

    “We talked about ‘Get Barefoot and have a great time’, that was our tagline,” Houlihan said. “Barefoot in California means a day off, being by the beach or a pool.

    “We introduced the idea of having a great time with wine which had never been done before.”

    Harvey “juggled the balls” at home, designing the iconic Barefoot label and overseeing quality control, bottling, supply and all financial aspects of the business while Houlihan travelled “on his hand and knees” begging buyers to sell it and stocking shelves once they agreed.

    With no money to advertise they also pioneered “worthy cause marketing”, giving their produce away to organisations and not for profits for events or auctions and noticed sales grow in each suburb.

    Step by step the spirit of Barefoot spread – and remarkably they did it all without ever actually owning a vineyard, a winery or tasting room.

    Instead, they contracted out services and put their time and energy into management, sales and distribution.

    “Distribution management is the most important part of the business and is what most entrepreneurs overlook,” Houlihan said. “They don’t think ‘how is my product going to actually get on a shelf in Tesco in Dublin?

    “How many people do I have to go through, how many government agencies do I have to go through, and how many taxes do I have to pay?

    “And how do I make sure it stays on the shelf so that when Mary Kelly buys off the shelf in Dublin it gets replaced on the shelf. It has to stay in stock.

    “Those were the issues we faced early and often and we thought, you know what, we don’t need a winery, we don’t need a vineyard, we can have all that stuff done for us if we have a good winemaker and excellent contracts.”

    Has the power couple got any other tips for the 900 delegates in Dublin this week?

    “You have to keep your good people, pay them right and treat them right,” Houlihan added.

    “You can’t cap a sales manager’s salary even if he or she earns more than you.”




  • RAI Awards

    Irish Restaurant Awards 2014

    Best Cocktail Experience in Ireland Sponsored by Ketel One, Diageo Reserve
    Winner Saba Restaurant, Dublin.

     Maker of the cocktail Abdelkarim Mehdi, Graduate of the 2012 Sommelier Course.

  • Tickling The Palate

    Tickling the Palate’: Gastronomy in Irish Literature and Culture, edited by Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire and Eamon Maher, was launched  on Wednesday 4 June. The launch took  place as part of the second Dublin Gastronomy Symposium,  held at the School of Culinary Arts and Food Technology, Dublin Institute of Technology, Cathal Brugha Street, Dublin 1.

    MacConIomairePhD2-228x300Mac Con Iomaire cover

     Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire

    This volume of essays, which originated in the inaugural Dublin Gastronomy Symposium held in the Dublin Institute of Technology in June 2012, offers fascinating insights into the significant role played by gastronomy in Irish literature and culture.

    Available online at Peter Lang website (www.peterlang.com)  or Amazon. Price: €53 but if anyone is interested in buying it at the launch price email ogorman.andy@gmail.com for details