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The Bar November 23rd, 2023

On Great Bottles of Wine

The Bar November 23rd, 2023

You Can Judge A Wine By Its Label

Appearances can be revealing. Much more than books, of all things, wine might be the easiest to judge by appearance. Someone once said that ‘there are no great wines, only great bottles of wine’ —which is wonderful but doesn’t necessarily state what I’ve found that many think it does.

As a subject scrutinized by considerable study, and indeed regulations about what can feature on its labels, with a relatively small amount of knowledge in the subject, you can be fairly confident as to what you might find inside a wine bottle (even by going beyond the label itself to look at things like bottle shape, fill-level, color, capsule condition and cork height).


Sure there are variations to this — there wouldn’t be as much written on the subject, nor it be as delightful, if it wasn’t full of infinite degrees of nuance — but as long as the wine itself is from an established region, you can often assume correctly, with a level of accuracy not found in most fields, what you might generally expect to taste inside.

If you’re a fan of a region or a particular wine too there might be no label more evocative than a wine label. Cos is my favorite label and is simultaneously a wine I’ve always found almost consistently wonderful (I had the ’83 on the night before I was married and then had a different vintage each wedding anniversary that followed – sadly before, for no reason I can remember now, letting that particular tradition fade out).

Whilst books do furnish a room, outside of a cellar, wine bottles however do not (with a few rare exceptions — such as a few restaurants and bars I can think of, or the private dining room in the basement at 44 Berkeley Square). Wine racks in kitchens are perhaps the worst offenders — subjecting wine to high temperatures and temperature variations that will never do any wine any good (similarly never store any spirits high up in a kitchen for the same reason). Electronic wine fridges and aging cabinets are of course a convenience but are not something I think are altogether appealing from a visual or sensory perspective.

One of the great things about wine is its capacity to improve with age. An electric fridge or cabinet, as a modern convenience, speaks somewhat contrary to the beauty of that. A proper cellar is of course something altogether different entirely and desirable. I used to love going down into the cellar at Berry Bros. Old, dusty, long since emptied, bottles of grand Bordeaux estates sitting on a ledge beside the worn-oak stair treads eliciting the opposite feeling one might get from the metallic bling and the blue LED lights of a wine cabinet.

Stylishly Yours,

Gary Harrison

Gary Harrison lives with his wife, five children and Labrador retriever outside of London. Gary has been helping people live better lives for over twenty years: Professionally, he is a leading expert in the field of home-technology, and has been consulted on by globally renowned figures of finance, business and entertainment for the design of many of the world’s most notable homes, hotels and superyachts. Gary’s personal interest in men’s lifestyle has resulted in his writing and photography being featured by publishing notables such as Matt Hranek, Yolanda Edwards and Michael Williams. He can be regularly found dining at The Wolseley, and drinking at Dukes Bar where he has been known to exceed the two martini limit.

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Edited by Rachel Butler

In-Content Photography by Gary Harrison


Ah, I can smell it already. Can you? The turkey’s just been pulled out of the oven and its perfectly roasted scent mingles with the stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and the faint smell of wood burning in the living room fireplace. The television’s on in the background — possibly the Macy’s Parade, National Dog Show, or football game — though nobody’s really paying attention. Guests are seated throughout, nibbling on crackers, cheese, and pepperoni. You’re holding a perfectly made Old Fashioned in your hand.

The only thing this Thanksgiving tableau is missing is a great playlist to help set the mood.