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The Importance of Wine Fairs

We are often asked, “How many of these wines have you actually tried, then?” To which we reply, “Nearly all of them.” Hopefully, anyone who has seen our range will deduce that it’s not that our respective homes’ recycling bins are overflowing with green bottles, rather, that we are granted the opportunity to sample a little of all of them. These taster sessions can consist of individual wineries or suppliers popping into the stores with a selection of what they think might be of interest to us, but this usually totals no more than 12 wines. 

For a larger, more ‘wholesale’ approach, we attend large wine expos, such as the London Wine Fair and Prowein. With James and Lucy Heading to SITT at the end of February I thought I’d take a moment to explain what Wine Fairs are, and why we attend them. 

You know it’s going to be a big day when on collection of your lanyard you are provided with a map. At the larger events it is common for us to try 200 wines in a day. As much as this sounds like a jolly, this can be a rather dull exercise in objectivity. What does it cost? Where does it fit in the range? Is it as good as ‘x’? Who would buy it? All these questions and more are contemplated before a wine makes the shortlist. Now, even though we are spitting the wines out, let me tell you I would not be O.K. to operate heavy machinery, and with teeth stained the colour purple, nor would I be entering any beauty contests. Last year I found a highly organised fellow brushing his teeth in the sink of the gents and rather than utter revulsion I felt jealous that I hadn’t thought of that; not least because of the teeth staining but because swilling litres of wine around in your mouth all day makes your teeth ACHE! Who knew! Nevertheless, these events are enjoyable; meeting winemakers, suppliers, critics, all of whom share our passion for wine. 

Like many others we use these events as a refresher, sampling some we’ve had before, or wines that have changed vintage (a lot can change in a year!) The real excitement, however, comes from checking out the newcomers and smaller stalls. This is of particular interest for us as this is one of the places where we can find those boutiquey wines from comparatively tiny producers that we can get really excited by and that you folks love. 

Lastly, these events often have masterclasses and open forums on which to discuss industry trends and developments. Last year I sat in on a discussion about the rise of natural wines (spoiler, an MW, a top sommelier, and a head winemaker all disapprove), the prohibitively high cost of organic and biodynamic certification, and the continued success of English wine. All of which has allowed me to prove you with informed buying decisions here in the shop. 


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