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Phil Oxera - on a mission to bug the trade

Published:  18 January, 2007

Mrs Oxera prevented Phil from applying to join in the fun with the Full Monty strippers at the Women of Wine's event in London last week, thus depriving those lovely ladies of the chance of setting eyes on the best-toned thorax in wine.

Despite his disappointment, Phil has been monitoring the event's progress with interest and was pleased to hear how seriously the troupe was taking things. One member in particular seemed keen to give the best performance possible, and at the pre-event thong-fitting, which took place at the LIWSF, he outlined quite what that might mean. Are we going to go fluffy?' he asked his puzzled counterparts and the lady who was measuring him up. You know, fluffy?' After some prompting, the member translated this bit of professional stripper-speak which, it turns out, has something to do with Semillon, and, if taken up, would require that the members had slightly larger thongs than they had perhaps planned for. As the member explained, this was a paying audience, and it was important that they were given full value for money.

Phil has also learned that the Chippendales of the Chais' were very nearly prevented from showing off their Semillons. The venue where the tease took place, The Crypt in Holborn, is situated beneath a church. When the local men of the cloth heard that this holy venue was to be used for such un-Godly behaviour, they threatened to pull their permission. Fortunately for our intrepid troupe, a nearby venue was found for the strip itself, and the after-party was allowed to proceed in The Crypt as planned. But Phil's antennae twitched when he heard about the source of the men of the cloth's information - a publication going by the name of Scarlet, the magazine that turns women on', which published a piece advertising the event. Does this mean that articles about fit men, feisty fashion, hot fiction and celebrity filth' are required reading for London's religious authorities these days? And have they taken up the offer of a free orgasm for every reader'? Amen to that.

Now that their first gig is over, the troupe might want to transfer their particular set of skills to the world of print media, and Scarlet may well be their best option for their second centrefold (see page 16 for the eye-popping first). Failing that, they could always try Wine Adventure, the latest arrival on the wine-publishing scene. The new magazine, which is published in California, is described in the publicity as the first wine magazine for women'. So what can the ladies expect? Well, as Phil has long suspected, the fairer sex doesn't much care about rating systems or amassing their collections; they simply want to enjoy wine and its related lifestyle'. The content, therefore, focuses on the softer side of wine' and will avoid taking the subject too seriously'. Sounds exactly what the likes of Jancis Robinson MW and Joanna Simon, not to mention the many other Diploma- and MW-level educated women in the wine trade, have been crying out for.

There's no soft side to the drinks industry in Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, where marketeers take their cue from Bernard Manning as opposed to, say, Jo Brand. A recent TV ad for the local beer brand, Regional, for example, ran with the supremely sensitive strapline: What's the difference between a wife and a lover? About 30 kilos.' Responding to accusations from women's groups that the ad was maybe just a little misogynistic, the company behind the ad stood its ground and added: I bet all these women's groups are run by women who are at least 30 kilos overweight.'

Phil and the rest of the Harpers team are possibly the world's biggest fans of the Sunday Express wine column - we keep a file of clippings to hand in the staff kitchen just in case we need some advice on matching wines with such tricky' foods as salad and soup, and we love the fact that when you turn to the column each Sunday you never quite know who's going to be writing it. So we were glad to hear from the latest incumbent (the fifth in three years), Jamie Goode, that the paper's staff are equally avid readers of Harpers. Goode informs us that when he was interviewed for the position, his work as a regular freelancer for Harpers came up. We're glad you applied,' the interviewer told him, because we're fed up of Harpers slagging us off every week, and maybe now they'll stop.' Slagging off? We're far too busy grappling with wine matches for sandwiches to have time for such petty pursuits.

For those who missed the page-three leads in almost every national paper a couple of weeks back, revealing the drinking habits of the curvaceous' Welsh singing diva Charlotte Church, Phil is pleased to divulge that the Port trade has found an unlikely fan. Church's favourite tipple, apparently, is a bespoke blend of two measures' of Port, with a bottle of the lurid alcopop WKD going by the name of Cheeky Vimto'. Before the Port trade - which has, after all, been trying to attract younger drinkers for years - gets too carried away, however, we should point out that La Church's fondness for this bevvy is largely down to the facts that it tastes just like Vimto or Ribena', and it's lethal!' The IVDP might also bear in mind that Church doesn't actually like the taste of alcohol'. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Finally, in Santa Rosa, California, places are still available for the hottest ticket in town - Kendall-Jackson's Annual Heirloom Tomato Festival. More than 175 varieties will be on show and there will be plenty of entertainment, including a garden-inspired juried art festival' (which Phil will be attending purely to find out what it is). Best of all, visitors will receive a commemorative wine tasting glass and a food tray, which Phil dearly hopes will feature the festival's tantalising strapline: America's favourite vegetable - or is it a fruit?'