The Oenophiliac

A Wine Writers View on the World of Wine. Formerly Magics Wine Guide and Reviews for Newbies

About Me.

Having caught the wine bug back in 1995, via a very enthusiastic boss, it has led me on a very merry journey into a world I was never aware of. As a result of this I have now studied wine, up to WSET Advanced level and briefly dabbled with the Diploma course.

I spent 14 years working for First Quench Retailing, Thresher Group, working my way up from a part time sales assistant to branch manger. My last two stores were flagship branches, both in noted wine drinking areas.

Apart from my managerial duties in these stores, I had always seen it as part of my role to educate my customers. Wine is a tricky enough subject with very little output amongst the High St wine fraternity to educate the public. Another role I played within FQR was as a company wine tutor. I would take new members of staff away for an afternoon and go through the basics of wine from tasting techniques, understanding labels, grape characteristics etc.

In August 2010 I helped set up a new independent wine store in Battersea, London, North & South Wines LTD. This allowed me to indulge my passion for wine by implementing a wine range with a particular focus on diversity, different styles of wine, breaking from the norm, introducing the public to varieties which they may not have been aware of and finally, having the chance to work hand in hand with suppliers and producers.

Seeing a different side to the wine trade has given me a new, re-energised outlook to all things wine.

I have now developed a keen interest in wine writing. Since I launched my blog, back in April 2011, I have found writing very therapeutic. Sharing my experiences via education, news, reviews and interviews. It has also helped me to keep up to date with the wine industry on a global scale, meeting people and making new contacts from all walks of the trade and talking to others who share my passion.

During January 2012 I had my first article published in Harpers Wine & Spirit. Since then others have followed including blog feeds on the Harpers website. I have also contributed wine pieces on the The Huffington post UK website, under my full name of Mike John Matthews, and In September 2012 I relinquished my full time role for a while within wine retail to give more focus on writing.

Following a health scare I returned to frontline retail, working part time in a Wine Rack in Brondesbury, London. In more recent times I helped launch a new wine retailer in Twickenham, South West London called Warren Wines. We opened our doors on the 18th September 2016.


Outside of wine I am a keen rugby fan. I’m a season ticket holder with Harlequins RFU, you’ll find me in my usual spot on game days in the north stand, and a lifelong fan of Liverpool FC. In fact I like watching a lot of sport. I also love music. I play the drums in a band called The Raven Chords, where we play around the underground London music scene.

For any queries, events, press releases or stories then email me


2 comments on “About Me.

  1. Laura Burt-Weiss
    April 29, 2011

    I like sweet wines but they are hard to find in the States, any ideas??

    • When you say sweet, do you mean a wine that is sugary sweet? Think of taking a mouthful of honey. It’s sweet from the tip of you tongue, then as you swallow you get a sugary coating down your throat.
      Or a wine that is very fruity? You get an initial blast of sweetness but as you swallow you get a drying finish at the end.

      California do produce sweet wines.
      Half Bottles Elysium Black Muscat – 2008 – Quady Estate
      Half Bottles Essencia Orange Muscat – 2008 – Quady Estate
      Californian Rose too. White Grenache, White Zinfandel. These would be generally off dry to medium.

      Styles, varieties and label phrases you could be looking for, which won’t say sweet on the label are –
      Sauternes, Barsac (Bordeaux) from France. These can be quite expensive though. They will be golden in colour. Also Banyul from South of France. Very port like.
      Brown Brothers produce a good Orange Muscat from Australia. On saying that if you see a wine labelled as Muscat it will probably be sweet anyway.
      Another rich, sweet wine from Australia are Rutherglen Muscat wines.
      Errazuriz from Chile do a great sweet wine.
      Canada are very well known for producing Ice wines. Jackson Trigg, but more widely available are the Inniskillin Ice Wines especially in the States.
      German wines have a very productive sweet wine industry.
      Hungary is famed for its Tokaji (pronounced Tokay). These wines are measured in ‘Puttonyos.’ The higher the number, the sweeter the wine. Normally ranged from 3-6.

      On labels you need to look for words which state –
      Vendarge Tardive
      Late Harvest
      Ice Wine or Eiswein
      Auslese (Germany)
      Beerenauslese (Germany)
      Trockenbeerenauslese (Germany). Get you tongue around that one 🙂
      Sparkling Wines and Champagnes look for Demi-Sec or Doux

      Grape varieties that produce sweet wines –
      Riesling. Normally dry so be careful. Ask at your local wine store. German Rieslings are worth looking at.
      Semillon. As above.
      Sauvignon Blanc. As above. Blended with Semillon, these two grapes produce the great Sauternes from Bordeaux.
      Muscat also known as Moscadel in Spain
      White Grenache
      White Zinfandel

      You might even want to consider fortified wines, port for example. These are higher in alcohol, around 20% ABV and can be more expensive than standard wine but do contain higher levels of sugar.
      Pedro Ximenez (pronounced Jimenez) is a sherry from Spain. Officially the sweetest white wine in the world, 500g of sugar per litre. Yet again it is expensive.

      If your local wine store is any good then ask the staff there.
      It would be cheaper for you to buy American. California has such a wide and diverse wine range. Producing several different styles.

      I hope this helps Laura.

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