Thursday, 26 March 2015

Happy 2nd Birthday to Vinspire! Top 10 Highlights of the Year

Photo: Cbacquiran
Two years ago, I sat at my desk trying to find decent drinks blogs that spoke to people like me (and, hopefully, you), but I couldn't find one.

All of the blogs appeared to be either too niche (I love wine AND whisky, craft beer AND cocktails), too traditional/close-minded (stop just banging on about Rioja and sauvignon blanc and give me wines made from something/somewhere unpronounceable and exciting, already) or, frankly, a bit too old and serious.
After all, 25-year olds like drinking good booze too - so where was our voice?

I spoke to my fellow drinks geeks (my friends, colleagues and boyfriend) and we decided to start a blog together.

Vinspire was born - and I can't believe I'm saying this, but here we are a whole TWO YEARS later!

That two years has flown by in a whirlwind of fun, heaps of learning, getting tipsy (sometimes too tipsy) and discovering drinks, places, products and services beyond my wildest imagination.

All of our lovely readers have been amazing - every comment, like and share has helped us to grow and learn what you all love reading about the most. I can't say this often enough, but thank you so much for your support - it means way more than you probably realise.

Thanks to YOU, I'm thrilled to say we've reached almost 50,000 drinks fans in the past year, and had hundreds of thousands of pageviews. And in the past twelve months, we've also doubled our Twitter and Pinterest followers and tripled our Facebook fans. We've also given away over £900 of boozy prizes and raised almost £300 for water charity One Difference.
Hooray for every single one of you!

Here are the top posts of the past year, as voted for by your pageviews:

1. Those controversial opinion pieces

They may have provoked some pretty varied responses, with some of you not liking what they had to say, but our opinion pieces have been some of the most-read of the year.

Notable highlights are Adam's piece on legal disputes between craft breweries and Frances' eye-opening post about racism in the wine trade.

Adam's views on 2015 drinks trends was also a major hit (that made less of you shout at him...)

2. Wedding week (28th April to 2nd May 2014)

I really wasn't sure whether our themed wedding week would go down well, but it turns out that incorporating booze into your wedding was a very popular idea...

The posts that became some of the year's most-read were:

DIY wedding cork craft ideas
A selection of 'something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue' wedding cocktails
These ultimate novelty booze bars for your big day.

Seeing as my other half proposed to me last year, I'm pretty glad we took the time to do all that research...

3. Weird wine

Although we tried to write about all kinds of wine - including plenty of old favourites - it was the more left-field offerings that got you talking.

I've loved Lebanese wine for a long time, so I was thrilled to see how well Lucienne's post on Chateau Ksara went down, and I was also chuffed to see a Wine Society hidden gem from Morocco get so much attention.

Lastly, and frankly surprisingly, you all seemed really interested in our feature on Black Tower's 'skinny wine' range. I never thought I'd see a rose - let alone a low-calorie rose - in our top three wine posts!

4. Booze in new forms

Last year, we discovered several new ways to get our drink on, and you guys loved trying something new.

Particular hits were Smith & Sinclair's cocktail pastilles, Champagne popsicles and 4Gin's gin tasting and cookies kits.

5. Spirits discoveries

We (and you) also loved learning about new releases in the spirits/liqueurs world.

Lucienne was a bit of a boss at this, bringing us both the wacky Stellacello liqueur and Sibling gin (made by - you guessed it - a team of siblings), but our most-read spirits piece was Frances' poignant review of Grasovka vodka, a vodka with a heritage close to her heart.

6. Getting silly

I was delighted to discover you're all as bonkers as we are, because a lot of our most-read posts were about very silly drinks accessories.

First, there was the beer flip flops, which made our summer holidays really fun. Then came the brilliant "Officer! There's been a gincident!" tote bag, and finally we all went Potter-mad for the genius polyjuice potion hip flask. Naturally.

7. Glasses galore

A surprising, non-boozy hit were two of our homewares features: the brilliant bike mugs to celebrate the Tour de France and my piece about ridiculously pretty etched glassware.

8. Cocktails highlights

The Friday Cocktail slot has been a year-round hit (with me, at least...) and two of our offerings appeared to stand out above the rest.

Jo's mega-green midori splice cocktail recipe was brilliant not only because of its unique colour, but because it was created thanks to fond memories of her younger years in her native Australia.

And my rhubarb and ginger gin fizz was one of those dangerously easy but flavour-packed cocktails that brought many a summer evening of tipsy fun sat out in the garden. Yay for every one of those.

9. Best of the rest

Two things that appeared to stand out for you were Lucienne's report from the notorious, wonderful Feis Isle Whisky Festival and her easy, to-die-for slow-cooked bourbon and cola beef recipe.

I have to admit, these were two of my personal favourites from the year as well...

10. Getting YOU involved

As well as our many giveaways that got you all talking, we have increasingly turned to you and your utter brilliance for some of our best moments.

Two of the most-read posts of the entire year were Sam's poll asking for your favourite gin brands and our first attempt at our Vinspire Secret Santa, thanks to Tim's moment of genius.

We're going to be asking for you to get involved a lot more this year. After all - we wouldn't exist without you.

Here's to an even crazier, more marvellous 3rd year here at Vinspire! 

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