Sunday, August 4, 2013

Wine tastings in London

I go to a lot of wine tastings in London, mostly to try new wines, but its also fun to find out what different venues offer. Here's my pick:

The free one
Majestic. What a fabulous idea - free wine tastings to encourage you to buy their wine. It certainly got me in store. They run these maybe once a month, if you sign up to your local shop's emails, they'll let you know when. Or, if you want to simply pop in, they always have some bottles open for you to try.

The fun one
DVine Cellars in Clapham. £15-25, weekly. In the basement of the shop, there is a tasting table where Greg and Ollie hold tastings. They both know their stuff, and will tailor the tasting to the level of the audience. Interesting facts, informal, so you can ask questions freely, and friendly punters to share your stories with. Opportunity to buy a bottle to drink at the end of the tasting, chill out with your new friends.

The quick one
Sampler Islington or South Kensington £20, Sundays. At the back of the shop, Ben gives a whistlestop tour of a specific region or grape varietal. Chance to try something new that has already been picked out for you. and good for finding out what it is you like about a certain grape or region. You get 10% off any bottles that you have tasted if you want to buy after.

The formal one
Dorchester hotel £39, monthly. You are welcomed with an aperitif and canapes. Ronan gives a lesson on history, geography and geology. Then we get taken through a journey of around 10 wines with Masters of Wine. Good for learning as well as tasting, and they're not stingy on portions. And they really know what they're talking about and give good sommelier tips.

The luxury one
28-50 either in Marylebone or Fetter Lane, £40, monthly. Hosted by Xavier who has a CV that will make you cry (Head Sommelier at Le Manoir and founder of Texture). He set up this restaurant with Agnar Sverrisson to focus on wine. The tasting is very in-depth, and you get to taste some very expensive wines. I was in awe at this tasting and felt privileged to be there!

The indulgent one
Dvine Cellars wine tasting dinner. Price varies depending on menu - the one I went to was £75. Oh my. The menu was designed to match the wine rather than the other way around. Four courses of food (ceviche, ox cheek... fancy!), each with two wines. Then, as the producers were there (what an honour), they brought out the big guns at the end, expensive wines that hadn't even been bottled yet. These don't happen very often and are a jolly good night out. If you're keen, let Greg know and he'll get in touch for the next one.

The classic one
Antique Wine Company £95, or £65 through Stylist magazine/ Emerald Street. Nine wines, an hour and a half, served with a mouthful of matching food. You're greeted with a glass of champagne. Richard Hemming hosted the rose evening, and was a good teacher. It was a shame that Richard left early, and we weren't left to finish the open bottles. Even though I emailed my seafood allergy when I booked, but all dishes contained seafood and they hadn't thought to provide an alternative.


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