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 2019
Carte Blanche: Farewell to 2018 - £29
Thursday 13th December 2018
For the last tasting of the year, we will be deep into the party season and suspect you will be too - so we will be throwing a party of our own celebrating the ups and downs of 2018. We want your suggestions of what to taste tonight, so when you book let us know what you love, long for and never tire of. Using your ideas as inspiration we will weave an evening that captures the spirit, the discoveries and the stories of 2018. If you want to bring along a bottle to share with kindred spirits then do let us know in advance and we would be happy to share something with you too. Tonight is a pure celebration of the joys of wine - come one and come all.
Cheap & Cheerful: Our Favourite Wines Under £15 - £15
Thursday 17th January 2019
While others atone for the excesses of the festive period, we believe that toning it down is quite sufficient. You won't find kale smoothies or Gwyneth Paltrow's latest gloop at our tasting table. Instead, embracing the spirit of pecuniary moderation, we are going to spend the evening talking about some of the wines that offer loads of flavour at January-friendly prices, although these superstars make their way home with the staff all year round. We'll be uncorking everything from great value Chianti to gems from the Spanish south, taking in the bargain reds and whites of eastern Europe and the Balkans, Portugal and South Africa along the way. What's your new house wine going to be?
Move Over Merlot: The Coolest Grapes You've Never Heard Of - £26
Thursday 24th January
The wine world has a well-deserved aristocracy of grapes: merlot and cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. These grapes can make great wine, but sometimes we crave difference just as much as greatness. Tonight is all about the vanguard of new wine grapes that are coming your way. We're talking about furmint from Hungary, mencia from Spain, friulano from Italy, alfrocheiro from Portugal and cinsault from South Africa. We'll be looking at the new kids on the block and working out whether any of them are going to make it all the way, and getting to grips with the newest trends in wine from around the world.
Rustic Reds for Midwinter - £28
Thursday 31st January
When the frost starts to bite and the central heating is just about managing to ward off the chill, nothing beats a chunky red with a bit of guts to fortify body and soul. Tonight the focus is on grapes that deliver flavour, colour, concentration and the all-important tannin that gives them shape and can result in admirable ageing potential. We'll be looking at inky Madirans with their flavours of dried blueberry complemented by barky spice, at aglianico, the great grape of Naples, full of leather, tobacco and cinnamon, not to mention meaty petit sirah, horsey mourvedre and - a peppery favourite - syrah.
Rock & Rhône: Wines from North and South - £29
Thursday 7th February
It has been too long since we made a pilgrimage from the dizzy slopes of Condrieu and its explosive viognier to the rock strewn plateau of Chateauneuf with its powerhouse grenache blends. One of the strongest categories in our range, these are wines of great diversity, crammed with original flavours, and even at the top end offering a great rapport between quality and price. We'll be featuring everything from imaginative and great value vin de pays, delicious Crozes Hermitage, St. Joseph and Cote-Rotie from the north and glossy, warming blends of grenache and syrah from the southern appellations of Vacqueyras, Gigondas, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and beyond. There's never been a better time to discover these wines, with three excellent vintages back to back.
Blind Date: Mystery Wines for Valentine's Day - £27
Thursday 14th February
Blind tasting, much like blind dating, is a source of terror for most of us. But, just like with dating, the trick is to not take it too seriously, and to try and enjoy yourself. Or at least to get stuck into enough wine that you don't really care. Tonight's frivolous gathering brings together wine lovers without pretension as we attempt to unmask our wines using nothing but our intelligence, creativity and enthusiasm. What could possibly go wrong? Expertise is not required, but good humour most certainly is!
The Wild South-West: The Wines of Gascony - £28
Thursday 21st February
For centuries dominated by the protectionism of Bordeaux, the truth is that the wines of the High Country, as it was known, were once much more popular than claret. Nonetheless, Bordeaux casts a long shadow and even today these wines are among some of the least well-known in France. We will savour the delights of Marcillac, Cahors, Jurancon and Madiran, accompanied by rustic saucisson sec and tangy ewes' cheeses from the region. From light and peppery reds to rich, tangy whites and strapping, substantial bottles with real ageing potential, south-west France is a treasure trove for wine lovers.
Life After Burgundy: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Around the World - £32
Thursday 28th February
Ah, Burgundy, the king of wines and the wine of kings. Except that even kings can't afford the stuff these days. Even if you could, there's hardly any to go round. We're afraid the time has come to get over Burgundy and move on. While the greatest chardonnay and pinot noir still issue, in miniscule quantities, from these hallowed vineyards, prices have rocketed and value has plummeted. For us, the love affair is on the rocks. Yet happily the quality of chardonnay and pinot noir have never been better beyond Burgundy, whether in the coastal vineyards of California and South Africa or the less-famous vineyards of Europe. Join us as we play away, discovering just how good these grapes can be outside their vaunted homeland.