A couple of weeks ago I stood behind a lady in the queue at Tesco who was buying 10 bottles of Gavi - a medium bodied white from the north of Italy made with the Cortese grape. Clearly she was having some kind of party.
I wanted so much to stop her buying them; to tell her I had some Cortese in my bin end sale which I could guarantee would be so much better; to discourage her from ever even considering Tesco for her wines in the future...
Fast forward two weeks and I’m on a buying trip in Italy, chatting to the producer of excellent quality, excellent value wines about the pressure he is under to change the way he makes his wine because of the way the market is changing. “Supermarkets-” he told me, “they think first, price, second, quantity, and only then, they think about the taste of the wine.”
I hadn’t said anything to the lady in Tesco. I was there in my tracksuit bottoms and flip flops, and even if I had had my business cards with me, I doubt I could have convinced her I was the wine professional I was claiming to be. But she had made me think, and in Italy, these thoughts became an idea. Now, it's a fully fledged mission.
My website tells you how The Dancing Vine seeks to enhance its customers’ every wine-drinking experience, and I’m always thinking about new ways to do that. Well, here marks the launch of the Wine List campaign - a series of public tastings to demonstrate the range, quality and value of wines on offer from smaller, more specialist retailers. I want to show people the wines beyond the supermarket shelves; beyond even the shelves of the big high street chains.
We have a whole army of these small-scale retailers professionals sourcing out the best wines from all over the world, and they do a really fantastic job. Importing smaller amounts, they get special wines; unique wines. They find smaller wineries, and they build relationships with those wineries. They get the stories, the history, the families, and the lifestyles, and when they import the wine, those relationships are there in the bottle as well, and they pass these on to you, the customer. You can taste it.
And it’s not just the wines themselves that make these retailers special. The service is personal. Tell them what you like, and they’ll recommend you something personal just for you. Need a big order for a party? Ask them for a good deal, and they’ll give you one. Want something special for a dinner party? Tell them your menu, and they’ll help you decide. You get all this because the person selling it to you has passion. They love the wine, and yes, that love comes in the bottle to you as well. You can taste it.
You don’t have to take my word for it. We’re launching our series of Big City Wine List tastings just next week, kicking off in the capital, at the beautiful Elysee Restaurant and Roof Garden in central London. Come along and have a taste. Meet the people who’ve sourced the wines. Find out what makes them special. Trust me, you’ll never look back.
Visit http://www.dancingvine.co.uk/the-london-wine-list.html for more information, and to buy your tickets.