My afternoon began in a lovely pub/restaurant in Clapham (22 North Street). Downstairs, like something straight out of 'Alice in Wonderland', was a bookcase which opens to reveal a gorgeous private dining room perfect for 12 people - also a perfect number for a wine tasting in my opinion!
The birthday boy, Peter, had a truly lovely set of friends who were ready to have a laugh but also willing to learn a wee bit too. I had previously spoken to Peter about the type of tasting he would like and he had some brilliant ideas. We started the tasting with fizz (Peter had already told me that his friend drank gallons of Prosecco!), a Prosecco and a Cava to learn the difference between the two both in terms of production and taste. Peter This split the group in half with some self-confessed proseccophiles turning to Cava when given the two in close succession.
We moved onto 'unusual' whites. We had a new world Gewurtztraminer followed by a Loire Vouvray (when I was chatting to Peter about whites he told me that he HAD to have Vouvray just because he found the name so ridiculous :-)) The group were interested in both wines with most people having discovered neither of these types. My particular favourite part was a lovely comment on a tasting sheet saying "A white wine I like?" next to the Vouvray. Literally the entire reason I am in this business, made my heart smile!
Finally we finished with two French reds. I wanted to dispel the mystery of the French wine bottle so we tasted a young Rhone and a mature Bordeaux so that we could also discover the tastes associated with aging. Our mature Bordeaux was an absolute knockout (Chateau Tour du Haut Moulin - available from Majestic) and such a fabulous end to a great tasting. My thanks go to Peter and all his lovely friends.
Hotfooting it over to East London I then ran a tasting for a group of ladies from the London Philharmonic Choir. A more intimate tasting, just the five ladies and a really interesting mix of knowledge about wine. Tess, who organised the tasting, had asked me for a basic introduction to both red and white wine with a view to doing something a little more specific at future tastings (Yay Tess!) We started with white. A lovely crisp Sauvignon Blanc was followed by a floral delicate Gewurtztraminer and finally a cracking example of the, much maligned, full-bodied Chardonnay. Some of the ladies present were expecting not to like the Chardonnay (a common complaint) but we all agreed that it was a lovely, elegant and complex wine and not the over-oaked monstrosity that some were anticipating. (Bourgogne Chardonnay).
Then we cracked out the cheese in order to do the full gamut of reds. From a light, fruity Pinot Noir through to a chewy, full-bodied, Malbec via a quaffable Cote du Rhone since Tess is a big fan of Aussie Shiraz so I wanted to show her the more delicate flavours of the same grape (Syrah) in a French blend.
The night was an absolute hoot and I confess we may have finished off a few of the bottles after the tasting was over.
Many thanks to both Peter and Tess for booking tastings with Through the Grapevine. If you fancy booking one yourself please do visit the website and get in touch, I'd love to see you!