Secrets, tastings and wine.

Fellow Wine Lovers,
Time for more terse observations from another wild week in the land of drinks and drinking.
So, here I was at a tasting. Quite a big and important tasting, and one that has been an annual occurrence for too long to remember. It has always been well attended and I have often found it to be particularly fruitful. In days gone by this event was attended by the occasionally upstanding members of the bar, restaurant and retail trade. The purpose of the tasting was really simple: sales. Dress it up in fancy clothes and stick it in a fancy ballroom but its sole purpose always remained: to increase sales. And we were there with our eyes wide open, wallets poised, to taste the wines, and if we liked them, buy them.
A simple and effective tool. However this time the tasting had a very different feel to it – the customer facing, frontline wine buccaneers were still here looking for new and exciting bottles, but the majority of the attendees spent the majority of their time air-kissing, waving to people on the other side of the room, and getting in the way of the minority there to taste the wines.
The bloggers had arrived.
Through no fault of the organiser this was no longer the sales event of old, it had now become a networking event. I have no problem with networking events, I appreciate their intrinsic value but don’t take over a professional tasting where people want to get work done. None of the bloggers will buy any of the wines and a number of them won’t even write about them – so what possibly could be the appeal to them?
Free Illy coffee and croissants when you arrive, a free two course lunch and free beers afterwards. Bloggers? Blaggers.
Anyway, back to the blog.
It’s not all about moaning, at least that’s what they’ve told me. An article we stumbled upon a while back, relates how a water purification business in Oregon is so confident of their purifying product that they are petitioning the state authorities to allow them to make a beer using this water. Having been incessantly told as a child that every glass of London tap water you drink has already been through 7 other people, I don’t find this news so unsavoury – however I am sure that the king of US breweries will be livid that the secret is out of how they make their beer taste like *#@%!!
Finally we have to give a serious high five to the brilliant researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany and the INSEAD Business School. To put their research in a nutshell, they have concluded that consumers enjoy wine and chocolate more if it has a higher price tag – the belief that a wine has cost more triggering some sort of neural process that makes you enjoy the wine more. This is the best research we have ever come across, ever. And our advice to you – certainly we can sell you that bottle of wine for £12.99 but if you really want to enjoy it, how about you give us twenty!!
This time next week we’ll be wondering exactly how Gorgeous George managed to get so many votes for his Respect party and puzzling as to what the future will be like without child star William Hague and cash-for-access clot, Malcolm Rifkind bringing joy and mirth to PMQ’s. But what are we going to do to fill the time until then? I suggest drinking wine or at the very least learning about it.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – we can try and describe all the wines in the shop to you in all sorts of floral language but at the end of the day what you taste in a wine and what I taste are completely subjective. We do our best but really, if you want to know more about wine generally and about what you like specifically, you need to do a course. Conveniently, here is one we prepared earlier:
Who is this course aimed at?

You! We assume you have tasted wine and enjoyed it enough to come along and explore further. Our course is aimed at the enthusiastic beginner.

What’s our goal?

Our course is designed to give you an excellent opening to the world of wine. Based entirely around what you taste, the course will give you the confidence to trust your palate, understand the characteristics of the main grape varieties and to explore new styles and varieties. We keep the size of the group small, between 8-12 people, to allow for discussion.

What will we cover?

We cover all the classic grape varieties with styles from both the Old and New World. Some of the wines are shown “blind”, so that you learn to trust your judgement based on the taste of the wine rather than what it says on the label. We will show you how to evaluate and assess quality, discuss wine production methods as well as the wine’s acidity, tannins and flavour. On our journey we shall cover ageing potential, wine and food matching, wine storage conditions and, importantly, wine faults.

Weeks 1-3
We’ll show you how to taste wine and cover the main white varieties along with a couple off-the-beaten-track selections.
Weeks 4 & 5
We’ll cover the classic red varieties as well as a few lesser known varieties.
Week 6
This week is all about bubbles. Sparkling wines from around the world, alongside several styles of Champagne.

You will taste 8 to 10 wines each week and we will even manage to sneak in a little pudding wine and perhaps a rosé somewhere amongst that lot!

What venue?

The course takes place in the shop after we close. We put out the tasting table, pull up some chairs and get stuck in. Our courses are relaxed and about enjoying wine and sharing knowledge.


Wednesday evenings from 8 till about 9.45 for six weeks. .

What do I bring?

Just yourself! We’ll provide everything you need… notes, pens, paper, water biscuits and wine.


The next course is on Wednesday evenings as follows:

Week 1     Week 2       Week 3   Week 4     Week 5     Week 6
03/06/15 10/06/15 17/06/15 24/06/15 01/07/15 08/07/15

If you can’t commit to the six week course then why not come and join us for one of our Wine & Cheese evenings. These are fun and informal and filled with wine and cheese – a simple plan but an effective one. The next planned evenings are: Thursday 14th May at 8pm followed by another on Thursday 11th June.
And if you don’t like cheese, how about an evening dedicated to Rosé? This will take place on 9th July at 8pm and promises to be top notch. We’ll be tickled pink if you can come and will prepare the pink elephants for the end of the evening.
Talking of pink, the Giro d’Italia runs through 3 weeks of May, and our chums William and Guy at Pearson Cycles in Sheen have tasked us with producing a tasting for them.
Its on 21st May so if that sounds like it appeals you’ll find full details on their website through this link:
That’s it from us except to see if you would like to taste some wine when you pop in to sign up for all these courses and tastings we’ll be opening a perennial favourite white, Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc 2013 – £12.99 and a recent listed red from the fabulous Domaine Treloar called Le Secret 2012 – £16.99, we’d love to tell you more but it’s, you know, a secret…
Chocks away, it’s a bank holiday!

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