Our instore tastings are at the heart of what we do, and we have run over 1000 since we opened in 2002. They happen every week and are designed to be relaxed, informal and accessible for everyone, whether you are exploring wine for the first time, broadening your horizons, or delving deeper into your favourite regions and styles.
Our upcoming programme of tastings is listed below. We also regularly host winemakers in our Meet the Winemaker series, with producers from Australia, France, Japan, the UK and Austria joining us in recent months.
All our tastings start at 7.30pm unless otherwise noted, and last approximately two hours. Each evening, a range of artisan bread, cheeses and charcuterie will be provided to match the wines, although we regret that we cannot cater for dietary requirements. Places must be booked and paid for in advance and payment must be made within two weeks to confirm your booking, otherwise your reservation may be released without notice. Reservations will not be confirmed without a working contact number and cancellations made with less than 48 hours notice will not be refunded.
To book, please email your local store for availability. As our tastings often sell out within days (or hours) of publication, we suggest you sign up to our mailing list to receive the tastings updates as soon as they are published to avoid disappointment.
Upcoming Tastings in 2018
Road Trip: Dijon to Venice - £30
Thursday 30th August
All the best summer holidays are in wine country. It makes sense: grapes need heat to grow, and people whose lives are based around the vine tend to know their way around a good time. Tonight we'll be jumping in Theatre of Wine's camper van and taking a trip along Europe's highways, starting in the north of France and pitching camp at the most tempting spots on the road to Venice, from Burgundy to Valais, Savoie to Alto Adige, Verona to the Collio hills north-east of the floating city.
Yardsale - Pizza and Wine Night - £20
Friday 31st August - Leytonstone only
In May we welcomed the boys from Yardsale Pizza to Theatre of Wine and, for the price of three pints of craft beer, mixed two things that are made for each other: pizza and wine. The event was so popular we will be providing the same generous portions of both to round off summer in style. We will be introducing you to some of our favourite new wines and recommending great pairings such as pinot noir with those tricky white sauce pizzas and crisp sauvignon blanc to cut though tangy goats' cheese. We can cater for gluten free, vegetarians and vegans so please advise on dietary requirements when booking. Salute!
Labels, Labels, Labels: The Art of Blind Tasting - £27
Thursday 6th September
Choosing a bottle of wine is often a jump in the dark, and can even be so intimidating that we get stuck drinking the same wine over and over again, or choosing wine based on a pretty label rather than what we like to drink. The solution is to get to know your palate better, let go of your inhibitions, and embrace the spirit of adventure when trying wines. Our customers are some of the most enquiring anywhere in the world, and your openness to discovering new flavours and wine places never ceases to delight us. In this tasting we make blind tasting a fun and engaging way to explore flavour and understand taste. Before you know it you'll be befriending sommeliers like never before.
Microcosm: Art, Wine and Oysters - £25
Wednesday 12th September - Greenwich only
We are very excited to welcome local artist, Annya Marte, to take over the window of the shop with a display of her artwork made from seashells. Annya explores the use of organic elements to create stunning bespoke art, inspired by a love of the sea and the creatures that live within. Primarily working with sea shells washed up and discarded by nature, Annya transforms them into art pieces that bring new life and transcendent beauty to their story. To celebrate this evocation of the ocean, we will be welcoming Annya to present her work and holding a special short tasting, pairing wines with fresh oysters from specialist oyster monger Jacek of Oyster Brothers on Mersea Island. Sprightly sparkling, flinty white, and piquant rose set off the briny, iodine tang of oysters to perfection and set the mood perfectly for the artwork. Tonight promises to be a treat.
A Vine Family: from Pinot Noir to Marzemino - £28
Thursday 13th September - Tufnell Park and Greenwich
Grapes are like families: they breed, they adapt, they transplant themselves, and at the same time they hold on to family traits that are distinct and recognisable. One of the largest families in the vine world is Pinot Noir, which is probably one of the earliest to be domesticated from wild vines, and despite its heady reputation seems to have come from quite lowly origins. From its home in the Alpine borders of eastern France and nearby Burgundy, we discover its fingerprint in Syrah and Viognier in the Rhone. Crossing the Alps into Italy it gives birth to a series of delightfully characterful grapes like Marzemino and meets distant cousins as our journey heads towards the borders of Slovenia and Austria. The tasting equivalent of leafing through old family photo albums.
Introduction to the Wines of Northern Spain - £25
Thursday 13th September - Leytonstone only
Most of you will have come across Rioja, but northern Spain has many wine regions that boast a vast range of styles, catering for those who prefer a lighter and fresher style of wine. While tempranillo is grown throughout Spain, the regions leading up to the Atlantic coast make zesty, crisp whites from godello and albarino, and aromatic reds from the charming mencia grape. The contrasting geographical and geological conditions across this huge area, with mountain influences at one end and coastal influences at the other, means that the wines on offer highlight native grapes but also a true sense of place.
New British Cheeses and New Wave Wines - £35
Thursday 20th September
The British cheese world is in full ferment and rightly making its mark alongside the greats of France, Italy and Spain. As our farmers focus increasingly on rare breeds and sustainable farming practices, cheesemaking has never been better, and we will showcase the best from our favourite purveyors, Neal's Yard, La Fromagerie and Provisions. To complement these treasures we will eschew the classic pairings and marry them instead with wines that break the traditional mould. On a path that takes us well beyond Europe, tonight we experiment with new wave and New World wines that are anything but cliched and demonstrate that stereotypes have never been such a waste of time. Vive la difference!
Georgia On My Mind: Wines of the Black Sea and the Levant - £27
Thursday 27th September
After a recent discovery of some wonderful Georgian wines, we thought it was time to dedicate a tasting to the country that claims the oldest historical evidence of winemaking in the world - and to look at its closest rivals from across the fertile crescent. Qvevri, the clay pots used for fermenting and ageing wine, have become fashionable in wineries around the world in an attempt to recreate the wide variety of fascinating amber-hued wines found in Georgia. Meanwhile, the deep inky reds of native grape saperavi are matched in power by the structured reds from countries like Lebanon and the Greek islands. Tonight we will look at these ancient regions with new eyes.
Curves and Contours: Sensual Wines - £29
Thursday 4th October
A return to our occasional series that explores texture in wine, and it is proving a useful tool for anyone who wants to appreciate wine more. Definition of flavour can be a fraught and subjective topic, so looking at the structure is a real aid to understanding why wines taste the way they do, as well as offering a new and exciting textural language to express why we love a particular wine. At this session we knock all the hard edges off and plunge into the plush world of velvet smooth wines with hips and swagger. Using the decadent wines of Burgundy as a launch pad we taste around the globe to discover which grapes and regions are best to caress and pamper the palate.
Meet the Distiller: Raasay & Tweeddale Whisky Evening with Kevin Liu - £15
Friday 5th October - Leytonstone only
We have invited Kevin Lui back to Leytonstone as he has some exciting new releases to show us whilst we continue to wait, with baited breath, for their first Raasay Single Malt (this is not due until 2020 so you'll have to be patient!). He will also bring samples of a wine called Montechiari, a cabernet blend whose barriques they use as finishing casks for the Raasay While We Wait bottling. You will be treated to some single malts from their other distillery, The Tweeddale, which went down a treat last time. With bottle prices starting at £160 this is a great opportunity to taste whisky well beyond an everyday budget. Whether you already love whisky or you are just starting to discover it this will be a great introduction to different styles and an education in whisky distilling from an expert.
Gnarled and Knotted: Fine wines from Old Vines - £28
Thursday 11th October
The words 'vieilles vignes' or 'cepas viejas', meaning old vines, often pop up on wine labels, to promote the idea that older vines make better wines. But what are old vines? How long do vines live for anyway? There is no simple answer to either question, and there is no legal definition. Those old vines could be 20 years old or more than 100. Vines can't be used to make wine in their first three years of life, and then their fruit is often quite simple and can't make bottles that will age. After 15 years they really get into their stride, and as they continue to mature the yield decreases and the intensity of the resulting wine increases. We have many wines made from old vine grapes, some from exceedingly old plantings, so this will be a far reaching tasting that delves deep into flavour, grape and place.
Uppers and Downers: From Aperitif to Digestif - £29
Friday 12th October - Tufnell Park and Greenwich
The bookends to a perfect meal or evening are in the spotlight tonight. Vermouth has seen its star ascending once more thanks to London's band of star cocktail barmen, and greater availability of high quality products across the spectrum from light, pale and aromatic to deep, dark and aged. We'll explore how and when to serve these, on their own and in mixed drinks and cocktails, as well as considering that ultimate whistle whetter, gin. After dinner a fine brandy is the perfect compliment, and we have examples from both Armagnac and Cognac to inflame the taste buds and calm the stomach. If that doesn't hit the spot surely the walnut and burnt caramel of an ancient Oloroso will. Whether you light up a Havana cigar is up to you.
Middle Eastern Feast with Elijah's Table and Theatre of Wine - £45
Friday 12th October - Leytonstone only
What better way to ease you into autumn than to enjoy a beautiful Middle Eastern banquet brought to you by Sam White of Elijah's Table, a local chef making delicious mezze steeped in rich, earthy and spicy flavours. A feast awaits with a procession of dishes heralding from regions which were once home to the seafaring Phoenicians, who did so much to bring wine from its eastern homelands to the west in ancient times. The wines we choose will reflect this historic journey: Mediterranean rosés, qvevri fermented Georgian whites, Bordeaux inspired blends from Lebanon and sweet wines from Greece.
Line of Fire: The Wines of California - £36
Thursday 18th October - Tufnell Park and Greenwich
It is hard not to be moved by the devastating fires that are becoming a recurrent nightmare up and down the Californian coast. From the news it would be easy to get the idea that the Pacific seaboard is a sweltering hothouse, a veritable Sunshine State, but this would be a gross generalisation. The success of Californian wines, from jug wine to super premium, is down to the sheer diversity of climate, soil, exposure, grape varieties and traditions. From the cult benchlands and hilltops of Napa through the rolling landscape of Sonoma, to south of San Francisco all the way down to Baja California just across the Mexico border, this will be a celebration of a land resilient in the face of peril.
Wines of the Americas: North and South - £25
Thursday 18th October - Leytonstone only
We are going to take a tour in the beautiful and diverse wine regions of the American continent, from the golden state of California and hills of Mexico to the astonishing wines from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. The region's wine history dates back to 1600 when the first settlers started planting vines. Lots has happened since then. America's wine scene is successfully developing, offering us an eclectic range of grapes and styles. We'll go on an exploration to discover the signature classic wines and dip our toes into some new wave production styles.
As Nature Intended: Wines with Nothing Added - £28
Thursday 25th October
Wine is one of the very rare products we digest that is not required to list all of the ingredients that are used in its manufacture. We are used to seeing sulphur noted on the label but, without wanting to scare you, a winery can acidify, deacidify, stablise, and add colour, tannin and sugar, without ever so much as a hint of this on the label. These manipulations are mainly found in mass market wines rather than artisan products, but conscientious winemakers are keen to distinguish themselves by following a rigorous path of non-intervention. There have been great strides in quality and variety in this new world of taste, and this walk on the wild side encompasses both the avant-garde and the familiar.
Meet the Winemaker tasting with Louis Boutinot - £12
Friday 26th October - Leytonstone only
We are very honoured to welcome Louis Boutinot to Leytonstone to talk us through the delicious wines from his False Bay and Waterkloof estates in the Western Cape. Louis has a heritage steeped in wine. He is the son of Paul Boutinot, founder of the eponymous wine import business, who was making wine in France for many years before heading off to South Africa to start a new and exciting adventure. We'll be sampling wines from their False Bay range, great value wine that punches well above it's weight, and also their refined and extremely well structured Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc from the Waterkloof estate.