Our instore tastings 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.
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Our upcoming programme of tastings is listed below. We also regularly host winemakers in our Meet the Winemaker series, with winemakers from Australia, France, Hungary and Austria joining us in recent months.
Please note that our tastings start at 7.30pm. Unless otherwise noted, tastings take place on the same day in each of our stores. We typically taste ten wines, accompanied by quality charcuterie and cheese, and the tastings last for around two hours. We regret that due to limited facilities we are unable to cater for dietary requirements.
All places must be booked and paid for in advance. Reservations will not be confirmed without a working contact number and cancellations made with less than 48 hours notice will not be refunded. Due to the popularity and long reserve lists for many of our tastings, it is our policy that reservations made but not confirmed with payment more than two weeks after your reservation is made may be released without notice, although we will try to contact you by phone or email first of all.
To book, please contact your local store for availability.
Upcoming Tastings in 2017
Cocktails with Cocchi - £10.00
Friday 16th June – 8pm, Tufnell Park
Once upon a time a cocktail involved plenty of hard liquor, sugar and, more often than not, vermouth. There isn't a page of the beautiful and iconic Savoy Cocktail Book that doesn't call for a jigger of Italian vermouth or a dash of the French stuff. The fashionability of gin and the rise of the Negroni has brought long-neglected vermouth back into fashion. Tonight we look at one of the world's best producers, Cocchi of Milan to understand how important quality vermouth is, from making the perfect spritzer to transforming Negronis, Manhattans or Martinis from good to great. Less Joan Collins, more Anita Ekberg, tonight promises to be a revelation for fans of classic cocktails.
Leytonstone Beer Tasting with Stan & Al's, Savour, and Wildcard Brewery - £10.00
Thursday 22nd June - LEYTONSTONE ONLY
We have invited the brewers of Stan & Al's Brewery from Leyton, Wildcard from Walthamstow, and Savour from Windsor to join us to talk and taste the local beer scene with us. With its infinite variety, wine will forever be in our hearts and in our cellars, but there's no resisting the allure of a thirst-quenching beer in your back garden – or indeed, in a beer garden. We boast more breweries per head in the UK than anywhere else in the world, making everything from British blondes, London lagers and even sparkling beer brut. Tickets are a princely £10 so we predict this will sell fast!
Down Under: New Australia - £25.00
Thursday 22nd June
Misrepresented by Jacob's Creek and condemned to the 1990s bin along with shellsuits and Noel's House Party, we've all but forgotten that Australia is one of the world's greatest wine producing countries. While it used to be dominated by explosively rich interpretations of French varieties (did someone say shiraz?), a new wave of producers are using lighter Spanish and Italian varieties, making juicy but fresh montepulciano from Riverina, barbera from King Valley and spicy tempranillo from the Adelaide Hills. Those producers still working with the Aussie originals – chardonnay, shiraz and cabernet – have been making fresher and more elegant styles for years. Tonight we revisit the country that introduced so many of us to wine.
Meet the Winemaker: Xavier Guillaume - £15.00
Wednesday 28th June - LEYTONSTONE ONLY
Tonight we welcome Xavier Guillaume, a winemaker we have had the pleasure to work with for many years and who has provided us with many delicious and memorable wines. With vineyards in continuous cultivation since 1732, despite the predations of phylloxera and numerous wars, the Vignoble Guillaume estate has an unparalleled library of top quality vines that provide delicious wines vintage after vintage. Tonight, Xavier will be leading a tasting across his diverse range of wines, including the ever-excellent pinot noir and chardonnay expressions, as well as some of his lesser-known cuvees such as Valse Rose and the vin-jaune style Cuvee des Archveques (a divine accompaniment to the local, aged Comte cheese). We'll even include some older, mature bottles to show how magnificently these wines age – if you can keep your hands off them!
There's No Place Like Home: Native Grapes - £27.00
Thursday 29th June
Some grapes are born jetsetters, travelling around the world and finding their fame in far-flung places. Some are more fickle – or just less popular – and never take hold outside of their homeland. Whether well travelled or localised, it is always fascinating to taste a wine made from grapes grown in their original setting. Malbec may be known for its big, ripe and glossy Argentinian outings, perfect with slabs of red meat, but back home in Cahors it makes altogether more rustic and complex wines. Tonight we'll be writing our own vinous origins story, taking grapes back to their homeland. From garnacha in Spain to nebbiolo in Italy, via German riesling, Croatian zinfandel and – of course – French chardonnay, we'll discover what makes these grapes an enduring success in their homeland.
Good Taste: Mastering the Art of Food and Wine - £30.00
Thursday 6th July
We are truly lucky to live in a city with a vibrant, visionary food scene. Every conceivable cuisine, every ethnic tradition, every local speciality, are jostling for attention on our tongues. We also live at the centre of the world's wine trade, with more excuses for adventure than you can mention. Tonight we are creating a food and wine laboratory to throw as many flavours together in pursuit of the perfect matches. Using the classic flavour building blocks of acid, sweet, sour, bitter and the mysterious umami, we will play with different flavours and textures alongside an equally diverse range of wines, from riesling with its racy acidity to the tannic grip of nebbiolo, bitter cherry gamay and white pepper furmint. We are going to find out what works and decode why.
Cream of the Crop: Which Wines Go Best With Cheese? - £29.00
Thursday 13th July
Wine and cheese have a lot in common - they are both fermented, and they are often seen in each other's company, but how can you match a wine to cheese, or put together a versatile cheeseboard that won't clash violently with your favourite bottles? While popular opinion demands red wine, research suggests white wines, and does the old adage that blue cheese and sweet wine is a marriage in heaven still add up? It's a controversial issue that can only be decided by you. We will focus on five classic styles of cheese (goat, washed rind, sheep, aged, blue) and put a rainbow of wines through their paces to unlock those mysterious moments when all the flavours fall into place in harmony. Drawing guidance from luminaries like Patricia Michelson (La Fromagerie) this tasting will give you more confidence to mix it up and have fun with your wine.
Appearance, Nose, Palate: An Introduction to Wine Tasting - £25.00
Wednesday 19th July - LEYTONSTONE ONLY
We've had a lot of requests in Leytonstone for some introductory tasting sessions, and this informal but thorough introductory evening will help you burgeoning wine buffs understand more about wine tasting and the components involved in assessing wine. We'll be looking at the basic techniques used for tasting wine, as well as exploring some of the fundamental factors that make a wine taste the way it does, such as grape variety, climate and winemaking techniques. This special Wednesday session will be a bit more technical than our Thursday get-togethers, with comparative tastings showing the similarities and differences between wines from cool and warm climates, unoaked and oaked and comparisons of different grape varieties. All in all, a great way to build your confidence and discover new wines!
Oxygen: Aged White Wines - £35.00
Thursday 20th July
We are all pretty comfortable with red wines going beyond bouncy, youthful fruit and merrily evoke cedar wood, cigar box and old riding boots when describing the flavours of mature red wines. Why then are we so much more timid when it comes to aged white wines? The nobility of a deep gold, fully mature Sauternes or auslese are sought out by collectors and buffs, but the nutty pleasure of a mature chardonnay, the hint of pine and forest floor and even a whiff of kerosene on an aged assrytiko and the savoury depth of amontillado sherry is an insider's secret that deserves to be shared. Tonight we will bring them all out and discover the gastronomic pleasures reserved for the patient wine lover.
Liquid Poetry: The Language of Wine - £32.00
Thursday 27th July
Ever been intimidated, or just plain baffled, by the way wine is described? Wine has inspired art and literature, brought forth poetry and satire, and has been the source of descriptions so various that some sound like recipes for fruit salad and others like advice for horse breeders. We thought it might be fun to get behind the curtain and share some of the most provocative notes we have come across, as well as some of the most evocative literary responses to wine. Join us and share some delicious wines in a tasting to edify the mind as much as the senses. We'll be opening some mature pinot noir in honour of Leopold Bloom, some gravelly Graves in honour of Samuel Pepys, not to mention some champagne in honour of the great Madame Bollinger.
Spanish Wines and Tapas with Pica Pica - £25.00
Saturday 29th July - LEYTONSTONE ONLY
Theatre of Wine and is joining forces with Spanish food specialist Pica Pica for a delectable celebration of Spanish food and wine. Local business Pica Pica was created in 2016 by Helen Crabtree after many years living in Spain. Thanks to the many requests from friends and colleagues, she started offering cooking classes and her business was launched. The name "Pica Pica" comes from a Spanish phrase which refers to "picking" food or nibbling and sharing a range of small plates between friends. Helen will be showcasing examples from her tapas repertoire, and Theatre of Wine will be cracking open the cava and Spanish wines.
Bed of Rosés: The Joy of Picnics - £25.00
Thursday 3rd August
We will be cutting the crusts off our cucumber sandwiches and spreading strawberry jam on our scones to create tonight's al fresco summer vibe. Nothing could be better at this time of year than a curvaceous bottle of blushful Provence rosé bearing us off to the fishing villages of the Côte d'Azur. There is more to rosé, though, than liquid frivolity and we will be opening some deep coloured, spicy roses from Greece and Romania that lift so well the earthy heat of a curry. Not just for Valentine's day, we will crack open some of our favourite sparkling pinks as well. Pink wine is always fun, but the simply delicious need not be merely a simple pleasure.
Sun Tan: The Perfect BBQ Wines - £26.00
Thursday 10th August
Barbecuing is serious business today, and from Hoxton to Hammersmith the smell of singed hair on a tattoed arm fills the air. Frazzled sausages don't cut the mustard any more, and you can find thrilling open flame and mangle-tastic cooking from Black Axe to Kiln that will inspire your efforts at home, should you be blessed with some outdoor space. These bold flavours call for exuberant, unapologetic wines with tons of fruit, lots of upfront personality, and a gluggability to keep you jolly, if slightly wobbly too. Out with the classics, and in with the new wave, from safe options like malbec, to exotic mavrud, blaufrankisch in red, and whizzy whites from albarino to harselvelu. Get your tatts out and don your apron, we're cooking up a storm of banging BBQ wines!
Barcelona: Its Vines and Wines - £29.00
Thursday 17th August
At one time the Catalan princes ruled Roussillon on the other side of the Pyrenees and the Balearic islands of the Mediterranean. Little wonder then that Catalans remain fiercely independent. The richness and independence of Catalan culture is reflected in a varied wine tradition also. The ancient vines of the monastery of Scala Dei on the volcanic slopes inland of Tarragona in Monsant were the inspiration for the modern blockbuster wines of Priorat. The rugged hills of Penedes have become a hotspot for those in search of rich reds. The crisp, dry bubbles of cava, especially when made with the characterful local grape Xarel-lo, make the perfect foil. Together with some of the spicy local meats and tapas these are wines that recall you summers past and, hopefully, summers to come.
Carnal Pleasures: Charcuterie and Wine Pairing - £27.00
Thursday 24th August
Once upon a time us Brits were a brutish bunch when it came to food, thrilled by the exoticism of bright pink slice of Danish salami or a greying tranche of garlic sausage. How times change. Not only is the best of the world's produce on our doorstep, but our artisans have embraced the challenge of curing, smoking and ageing meat. A recent trip to Croatia highlighted the outstanding local produce enjoying a renaissance far and wide. We will be seeking out the best of what's available in London, and matching it with wines that sing with salted, herb infused, smoky, dense or spicy meats. There's nothing like an Alsace wine with sausage, or a tart sparkling red with Parma ham, so join us for classic and unusual pairings in this carnivore's carnival.
Indian Summer: Matching Wine with Spice - £28.00
Thursday 31st August
From traditional curries to new wave Vietnamese and Korean food, the heady thrill of chilli and the bassy richness of ground spices is now part of our everyday kitchen. While there's no denying the appeal of a hoppy pale ale with these dishes, tonight we'll be looking at how to pair wines with the complex spicing and exotic flavours of these cuisines. From zesty riesling to perfumed gewurztraminer, via velvetty pinot gris, chilled Beaujolais, tropical petit manseng and even Provencale rose, this evening is all about finding new ways of pairing wine with the heat and spice of Asian food.
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