So we’re into August, England are winning test matches, the sun is still shining and we’re all taking in turns to head off on holiday. In the first of a series of Q&As with leading figures in the trade we ask Greene King’s Andrew Ingham to kick things off by sharing what he’s up to this year along with what else he loves about the summer months.
We read about all the various wine promotions that go on throughout the year, but we rarely actually get to see what restaurants, bars and wine merchants have done to support them. Here Joan Torrents, well known in the trade for his buying and sourcing wine career, explains how and why he and his wife got so carried away by Wines of Germany’s 31 Days of Riesling promotion they sourced and listed 31 Rieslings for their London wine bar, Pantry & Co.
For years it was the US that was at the heart of the craft beer revolution, but times are changing and slowly the UK is being seen by brewers as the place to showcase and sell their craft beer. Which is good news for the London Craft Beer Festival, an event that has built such a reputation since it started six years ago that its organisers, Daniel Sylvester and Greg Wells, personally invite the brewers that are able to attend.
Walk into any high end bar and you can be pretty much guaranteed the bar staff can tell you anything you want to know about the 100s of bottles of spirits they have on their back bar. How they are made, where they are made and which combinations work best together. But ask them about wine and the conversation is likely to be a little shorter. Which is why wine consultant, Harry Crowther, is staring a new wine training course to help even the best bar staff get more knowledgeable and excited about wine.
Regardless of what type of industry you are in the challenge for any business is to be able say, or at least, claim what they are famous for. The key values, attributes or achievements your company, be it a drinks producer, distributor, retailer or restaurant have that mean your customers want to spend money or do business with you. Here leading hotelier, Geoff Andrews of WorldHotels, explains why good, genuine, relevant storytelling is vital to every one of its hotels’ success.
Andre’ Mannini, operations director for the M Restaurant Group, explains why he hopes its new ‘M-indful Days’ initiative will help its staff better manage their own stress and any potential mental health issues whilst working in what is the demanding environment of a high-end premium dining restaurant, whilst also giving them some time away from those daily pressures for the benefit of the team and their customers.
Sommeliers from some of the country’s top Michelin restaurants went palate to palate, spittoon to spittoon last week at the Bellavita Expo in London, dedicated to showcasing the best in Italian food and wine, in a competition to find the UK’s Best Sommelier with the greatest knowledge of Italian wine. To do so they needed to show their blind tasting, writing and service skills in a closely fought event…
If you stripped back any wine list to its core, best selling lines, then Italy would have to be one of the go to countries. Push a little further into Italy and then Tuscany would also come to the top. If you had to pick out a handful of producers within Tuscany, then the Frescobaldi family would come to the fore. Which is why the new Sommelier prize from the IWSC in partnership with Marchesi Frescobaldi is expected to be in big demand.
We are well and truly into awards season with seemingly gongs being handed out for everything from wines, to global song contests, to footballers of the year. Today it’s the turn of sommeliers and the finals of the Best UK Sommelier competition organised by, who else, the UK Sommelier Association in association with Villa Sandi. Leading sommeliers from all over the country will be competing to find out who is going to walk away with the overall crown.
How is it best to promote English and Welsh sparkling wine in a restaurant? Do you align it with champagne? Serve it as an alternative to prosecco? Are the prices seen as too high by the customer? All these questions and more are answered by Sue Jones co-owner of Michelin star restaurant The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, that has regularly won awards for its innovative and extensive wine list. In charge of the wine list and front-of-house team at The Harrow, Sue, together with husband and chef Roger, has been an early adopter of English and Welsh sparkling wine.