Wednesday, 27 November 2013


Last week saw the culmination of many tweets, a bit of haggling and some organisation. Last Tuesday evening I drove to a hotel about 20 minutes from my house, had a couple of drinks with a new friend, and exchanged 4 of my own bottles of wine with 4 of his. We performed a 'Wine Swap'!

To explain a bit, I'll go back in time a few months. I joined Twitter at a similar time to starting this blog. I started to follow many individuals who are involved in the wine industry, to try and keep up-to-date on current wine affairs. These were people I'd heard about, or read articles by, or knew in person already. Big names to start with, Jancis Robinson, Jamie Goode and Hugh Johnson for example. Now, Twitter does a useful thing, of telling you who else follows, or starts to follow, these people. It also advises you as to who you could follow based on your current Twitter activities. Through these kind suggestions, I came across the phenomenon of the #WineSwap (Hashtag WineSwap). This 'trend' was started by two chaps from Birmingham, Matt and James.

The #WineSwap was an idea they came up with, simply from doing it themselves, realising that it may take-off on a wider scale. Matt and James, and their other friends, were already talking about each others wines, discussing their collections. They decided that should one person buy a case of many bottles, it would be good to swap some of those for bottles from a mate's collection. When you only have a small collection, having many of the same wine takes up space and narrows your choice. Swapping some of those 'excess' wines for others, broadens your collection in an easy and trustworthy way. It allows you to try different styles of wine from different regions, producers or vintages. Twitter is simply the conduit tool for the idea. It makes it easy to spread the word using the trend '#WineSwap', acting as a search tool.

As well as this, the lads thought they would try something slightly different, which they call 'The Quest'. This idea is simply to exchange a bottle of wine worth £5, for a Chateau Latour 1982. Obviously, this won't be done in one go. The idea is to make incremental #WineSwaps, that steadily get them closer to the goal. I think they explain it slightly better on their website here. Matt and James blog about the Quest, so go and have a read, it's very interesting so far.

So, having gotten in touch with both Matt and James on Twitter, I told them I had some bottles I was willing to swap. In Matt's case, I'd read about his trip to Rioja, and was pleased when he wanted to swap some Bodegas Muga (Rioja Alta). James wanted to swap some excess Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux. The precise swaps were actually: a bottle each of Chateau La Tour de Bessan 2009 and Chateau Chasse-Spleen 2005, from my cellar, for Muga's Seleccion Especial 2009 and 2006 (respectively) from Matt. James wanted to swap 2 bottles of my Chateau Potensac 2008 for 2 bottles of his Chateau Poujeaux 2008. In all cases, these seem like very fair trades, in terms of both quality and worth.

Having arranged all this via Twitter, James met me at the hotel he was staying at while away for work. Conveniently for me, it was much closer than Birmingham, and James was to be there anyway. We met in the evening and had a couple of drinks, we chatted about a lot of wine-related things, especially the #WineSwap concept, and ultimately left with new wines.

The outcome to all this then, is that I feel I have not only expanded my cellar, but additionally made new acquaintances, and learned more about the world of wine. If I ever have bottles of wine I feel I don't need (a rare occurrence) or someone offers me a bottle (or two) of something I want, I shall most definitely consider a #WineSwap, it's a great idea! I certainly intend to keep in touch with Matt and James, and may try to wheedle my way in to tasting their '82 Latour!

Read more about the #WineSwap blog and keep up-to-date with the Quest at Or if you're interested in a WineSwap, look for the trend on Twitter.

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