Wine and wine tasting can be intimidating. I admit, I’ve been lucky. After a visit to a festival or two, I learned enough to give me some confidence, and it’s gone from there. I’ve just thrown myself out there, tried stuff. I’ve listened to others who know what they’re talking about, and umm, practiced. I mean much like gin, you learn the flavours by trying them. So you try, try, try again.
Even then, I’ve been to tastings where the presenter has loved the sound of their voice so much, that getting a word in edge-ways has been a challenge, let alone asking questions. Or there’s been someone attending who has dominated the event, resulting in the same issue.
When it comes to the newly launched Club Vino, I don’t think you’ll struggle. I attended one of their very first wine tasting events, hosted at the Great John Street Hotel. There are three styles of events that they host. Taste – 5/6 wines with canapes for £26 per head. Wine & Dine – a three course dinner with paired wines, and Sommelier Club – five courses with a wine flight at £120 per head.
Our evening was the Wine & Dine option. Three courses from the chef, and a selection of wines paired with the dishes. But as I soon learned, it wasn’t going to be just a wine pairing.
Up first, a blind tasting. An English sparkling wine, alongside a Champagne. No clues, no hints, just two glasses of fizz.
It was an interesting comparison. Both were delicious, but both brought something a little different to the table. The English sparkler brought something light and crisp and elegant, the Champagne something more complex. And as we chatted, my initial preference for the home grown, changed and I had a little more appreciation for the variation of flavour in the Champagne.
After this introduction to our evening from Marco, we moved onto our starter. A rich ham hock and lamb terrine. Marco had paired it with two options, another English wine – Bolney Bacchus 2017, and from Austria, Stefan Bauer Gruner Veltliner 2017.
Two white wines, bringing something different to the table. The Gruner was slatey and ‘flat’, clean and fresh, hints of lime. The Bacchus brought something bigger – elderflower, green pepper, and then it hit me, passion fruit. It’s complexity meant that it was perfectly nice with the food, but by comparison, the Gruner allowed the food to shine. It complimented rather than contrasted, and my glass was soon as empty as my plate.
Thankfully, Marco offers top ups.
Onto our main, and herb and pine nut crusted cod with aubergine puree, and another continental white wine, Otto Gorgen Briedern Riesling 2017. I loved this. There was more on the palate that then nose, it was soft, balanced and went very well with the dish.
No ordinary sticky toffee pudding, this was a double chocolate sticky toffee pudding, with vanilla ice cream, and paired with a soft fruity, fizzy red – Castello del Poggio NV Brachetto. Sweet, fruity, lots of strawberries and hints of jam, and worked well with the pud.
I was, however, my usual rude self when it comes to chocolate puddings, and swapped the pud with a fellow guest for ice cream.
It was a lovely evening. Marco is a fabulous host. Happy to answer questions, listen, and not be impatient, explain even when we ask questions that have absolutely nothing to do with the wines were were sampling, and take my quiet swap of puds with good grace.
If you’re new to wine and want to know more, or if you know a little bit and want to learn more, dip your toe in and book with Club Vino. I think you might just like it.