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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Chinese wines could be set to conquer the world

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Dairy Council chief Zoe Kavanagh
Dairy Council chief Zoe Kavanagh
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Veganism is nothing but "a fad" which will have disappeared in "three or four years". This is according to Zoe Kavanagh, guest of Ciara Kelly on Lunchtime Live (Newstalk, Mon-Fri noon) during the week.

If ever we had a shoo-in for the "well, you would say that, wouldn't you?" award… Ms Kavanagh is CEO of the National Dairy Council. It's her job to promote dairy products. Which is all well and good, but I'm not sure what exactly is the point of interviewing a lobbyist. We know what they're going to say.

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Kelly asked the necessary questions, but you'd wonder if a competing view - some expert on the benefits of a vegan diet, for instance - might have been useful. Personally, I found Kavanagh's comments ridiculous: the kind of thing that would drive a lifelong dairy-lover like me to veganism, just out of spite.

China is now the world's largest consumer of red wines. Did you know that? I didn't, until You & Yours (BBC Radio 4, Mon-Fri 12.18pm) came along to tell me. They're also producers, and in fact - according to Janet Wang, author of a new book titled The Chinese Wine Renaissance - have a winemaking tradition dating back as far as the 2nd century BC.

Currently Chinese producers only supply to one major UK supermarket chain, Sainsbury's, but was also stocked, until quite recently, by Morrisons, Waitrose and Tesco, and the industry over there now hopes to overcome latent prejudices and make Chinese wines more acceptable to the consumer.

"Pioneer, innovator and legend" - not sure if I'd agree with the last part of Claire Byrne's description of musician Keith Flint, who died tragically this week. But he was certainly one of a kind: a short, sharp, shock of the very best sort, the type of kick in the face that a lazy, self-satisfied culture needs every now and again. Plus, by all accounts, he was a sound man to boot.

Hot Press journo Stuart Clark paid tribute to the Prodigy singer/dancer/figurehead on News at One (Radio 1, Mon-Fri), saying he was "a cross between Johnny Rotten, The Joker and the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang".

It's shocking to think Flint was only 49. When the news broke, a lot of that generation thought, as the saying goes, "they're dealing from our deck now".

A new series of You Couldn't Make It Up has been chugging along for the last few weeks on Newstalk (Sat 10pm). Pat O'Mahony's brainchild is a welcome addition to the schedules, in that comedy and satire are always welcome by definition. In practice, though, this is fairly pedestrian stuff. The main problem is the cosy groupthink of its guests. Name the subject and you can safely predict where everyone will stand on it - and, generally, that's the same spot.

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