In broad terms the "Wine and Music" event is broken down into three parts. Raymond initially introduces about five or six popular pieces of music and perhaps some Irish airs from Fionnuala on violin. Some of these have been arranged specifically for Fionnuala and her rendition brings new life to them. Verbal links between each piece establish the historical and social connection with the world of wine, perhaps relating what was happening at the time the piece was written or highlighting major developments in winemaking. As such these interludes are anecdotal and entertaining as well as informative. Stage two comprises a wine tasting conducted by Raymond in an informal fashion, usually with five or six radically different wines to highlight the great diversity to be found in wine and to bring to people's attention wines they might otherwise never come across. Finally a 'mix and mingle' hour when people can drink a glass or two of their favourite wine from the tasting, chat about the music and eat some light food, with Raymond and Fionnuala circulating to answer questions or further elaborate on any points of interest. For a more formal evening this last section could easily comprise a dinner at which are served the wines from the tasting, suitably matched with appropriate food. The scope and format of the musical selection can also be significantly expanded by the inclusion of Fionnuala's sister, classical pianist Una Hunt.
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Raymond Blake is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and worked as a schoolmaster in Clongowes Wood College for six years until June 2000. During that time he was also developing a career as a freelance wine writer and has pursued wine writing full-time for the past five years. At present he is a regular contributor to the highly regarded Food & Wine Magazine. He also contributes to many other magazines including Wine Ireland, Irish Interiors, Decanter and Wine & Spirit International as well as numerous trade magazines. His work takes him to every far-flung corner of the wine world. In the past three years he has visited Australia, South Africa, Bordeaux on a number of occasions, Tuscany, the Loire Valley, Rioja, the Rhône Valley, California, Burgundy, Champagne, Germany, Austria, Chile and Jerez.
Other aspects of his work include planning and leading wine tours in conjunction with a Dublin travel agent, contributing to radio shows and acting as a judge for competitions to improve the quality of wine shops in Ireland.
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