Monthly Archives: June 2020

Waugh on Wine

We published a new edition of Waugh on Wine in 2019. As it’s English Wine Week, I thought I’d post the Wine Spectator’s review of Waugh on Wine…

Waugh on Wine: Bad Wine Hosts Should Be ‘Exposed, Ridiculed and Humiliated’

English provocateur Auberon Waugh’s wine—and weed—witticisms have been republished in a new volume. Plus, legal blues for blue wine

Waugh on Wine: Bad Wine Hosts Should Be 'Exposed, Ridiculed and Humiliated'
The cover of the new edition of Waugh on Wine (left), and one of the whimsical illustrations by Willie Rushton that depict a cartoon Waugh beset by wine. (Courtesy of Quartet Books)


Aug 8, 2019

Auberon Waugh, the late English writer and wit, famously hated many things—but few more than bad wine and bad hosts. The bon vivant and troublemaker once described a wine as “a collapsed marquee fallen into a rotting silage pit” and wrote that “hosts who skimp on their wine should be exposed, ridiculed and humiliated.” These and other withering critiques, pensees, bon mots and general tidbits of advice appear in the classic collection of the author’s writings Waugh on Wine, republished last month by Quartet Books after decades out of print.

Waugh, son of the novelist Evelyn, went by “Bron,” but unlike the other wine-loving, trash-talking Bron, had a less-than-auspicious early career. Rusticated (a fancy word for expelled) by his professors at Oxford University, he joined the national service, where, upon becoming annoyed by his faulty machine gun, he shook the barrel and accidentally fired several bullets into his chest. He lost his spleen, one lung, several ribs, and a finger.

Waugh on Wine

Humorist and illustrator Willie Rushton was a longtime friend and collaborator of Waugh. (Courtesy of Quartet Books)

That put him in a permanent mood to pen such pronouncements as “bad Spanish wine furs the tongue, turns the breath sour, upsets the stomach and produces a murderous hangover” and “it has been said that if you leave an Italian with a butt of rainwater, four mail-bags of mislaid holiday postcards and a hundredweight of banana skins, he will produce twenty cases of vino di tavola within a fortnight” (not necessarily an insult!). Naim Attallah, who owns Quartet and was good friends with Waugh, told Unfiltered via email, “I decided to republish this book simply because Bron was funny, contrary and entertaining.”

Waugh on Wine

Riesling with weed was a Waugh pairing rule. (Courtesy of Quartet Books)

Some of Waugh’s wine wisdom is dated, of course—the original volume was published in 1987 and Waugh died in 2001—but he was ahead of his time on the wine and weed trend, advising that kabinett and spätlese Rieslings are “the only wines I have discovered which go well with pot, having a soothing and fragrant influence.”

Waugh on Wine

Old World through and through, Waugh nevertheless admitted, “There can be no doubt that the Californians, for all their psychobabble and personal hygiene, are producing some very good red wines indeed.” (Courtesy of Quartet Books)

In the new intro, Attallah praises his chum’s “unsnobbish approach to wine” and remembers Waugh’s reaction when he gifted him a 1947 Cheval-Blanc on his birthday: “The joy on his face as he held the bottle in his hand … is still etched in my memory.” Some classics can please even the greatest contrarians.

Bron’s work lives on forever. God bless him.

Waugh on Wine is an essential read for all wine lovers and you can get a copy here:


David Platzer is a critic and writer who reviews books for The Catholic Herald and The New Criterion. He reviewed  No Longer with Us for The Catholic Herald. The book was of particular interest to him as it contained an interview with Sir Harold Acton and David is writing a biography on Sir Acton. When Memories arrived  from the printers, our publicity manager sent a copy to David. A few weeks later, he sent us the following review…


Memories: The Charms and Follies of a Lifetime’s Publishing
278 pp, £15

Describing Naim Attallah remarkable is an understatement. Born in Haifa then under the British Mandate in 1931, he came to England as a student. His formal studies ending, prematurely, when he could no longer get money from home, he worked various jobs as a steeplejack, a bouncer in a Soho jazz club (recounted here in an entertaining chapter) and a banker. In time he became Asprey’s CEO. A lifelong constant reader who dreamt in childhood of being a writer, he rescued in 1976 Quartet Books, founded four years earlier, and turned into a vital presence in the publishing world. This new book is a self-portrait with added fond memories from people who have worked with Attallah over the years in his many endeavours that also touched the theatre, cinema and fashion worlds.

See the source image

At Quartet, Attallah has taken risks on authors other publishers have shied away, some obscure, others household names including Brian Sewell and Lord Lambton, neither of whom averse to controversy. Quartet’s ‘Encounters’ imprint directed by Stephen Pickles was a pioneer in the English-speaking field in publishing translations from modern European authors. Quartet soon added two other imprints, Robin Clark, specialising in such interesting reprints including Auberon Waugh’s entertaining novels, and The Women’s Press to its stable and the book includes a memoir by Rebecca Fraser who directed Robin Clark.

In the midst of all this activity. Attallah made his dream of being a writer come true. He is the most accomplished interviewer of our time and many of interviews are now available in two volumes featuring persons No Longer With Us. Attallah’s interviews are always penetrating, often delving into his subjects’ thoughts about sex and religion, without becoming impertinent. An Attallah interview is indispensable to anyone interested in its subject. Not all of the eminences he approached were inclined to cooperate. Lord Goodman, the establishment’s beetle-browed “universal fixer” didn’t wish to be in the same book as Private Eue.s Richard Ingrams but relented, the supremely self-assured J.K. Galbraith, a leading mandarin of America;s ‘”liberal” left was trying . I wonder if William F. Buckley, who took the opposite view of Galbraith in almost everything though the two remained the best of friends, was difficult as Galbraith.. One hopes for more revelations behind the scenes of his interviews in a future volume. I have a personal interest in Harold Acton, who features in a book I am writing, and Attallah “found him easy-going and charm itself.” Harold responded to Attallah’s questions as to whether he had ever slept with a woman in a characteristically playful way, speaking “with relish” of an encounter with a young Chinese girl with exquisite skin in his 1930s sojourn in Peking. Interviewing the late Duke of Devonshire, Attallah found “the kind of humility normally associated with great sages,”

Anecdotes galore, many of them glamourous, sparkle throughout the book. A satisfied reader can only pray for more Memories.


The Old Ladies Of Nazareth

You can read about and get a copy of the English edition of The Old
Ladies of Nazareth here:

The Portuguese edition of The Old Ladies of Nazareth, recently
published in Brazil by Matrix, is now receiving great reviews. One of
the reviews has been translated into English for the benefit of our
readers in the United Kingdom who might like to acquaint themselves
with the English edition, which is still in circulation…


The Old Ladies of Nazareth: Naim Attallah ...

As senhoras de Nazaré - Comprar em Matrix Editora



Here how it goes:

In a work of less than eighty pages, Naim Attallah has written an absorbing narrative which I read avidly. His sparse, clear prose, still rich in detail, is skilfully rendered in a style reminiscent of the stories written by Rubem Braga, a rare achievement indeed.
By recreating this tale of childhood in the fraught land of Palestine before the second world war, Attallah has allowed the reader to better understand the bitter consequences of the absence of a mature Palestinian state in that troubled land.

José Geraldo Gomes Barbosa