Organising a wine tasting where all your guests are sitting in one place can prove to be a challenge at times, so you can imagine the potential for things to wrong if you then invited those guests to go on a tour of restaurants and bars around London, tasting different wines, matched to each outlet’s food along the way. It certainly made for a very different, fun, highly informative and memorable day for wineries from Sonoma County Vintners and our panel of “tour-ists” willing to go on the adventure with us.
It’s not often you go to a wine tasting and expect to make use of your Oyster card at the same time, but tasting wine on the move was very much the theme of The Buyer and Sonoma County Vintners Taste of London Wine Bar Tour.
There’s one thing tasting the wines from a particular region in the professional set up of a specialist masterclass. It is quite another doing so whilst moving restaurant to restaurant trying different style of wine alongside the type of food they are made to eat with in the environments where they are bought, sold and drunk.
But that was the challenge that Sonoma County Vintners took on when it teamed up with The Buyer to take a group of leading buyers, sommeliers, wine merchants and consultants on a tour of London restaurants to showcase their different styles of wines and how their producers paired against different food styles.
This was a wine tasting on the move where there were as many knives, forks, serviettes and toothpicks as there were glasses and spittoons.
The idea was to showcase Sonoma wines in the same way that consumers do when they order them in busy restaurants.
To do so became as much a logistical challenge as it did hosting a wine tasting. All in all, the event included 11 Sonoma producers, 13 members of the UK wine trade, a photographer, a fleet of taxis, and three restaurants in just over four hours. But somehow it all came together with great wines, gorgeous food, wise words and a lot of debate, and banter along the way.
Going on tour…
The Buyer worked with Sonoma County Vintners’ programmes manager, Jesslyn Jackson, to devise a tour that would highlight and showcase different styles, regions and AVAs of Sonoma wines in each of the restaurants visited. We worked together to identify the right restaurants with the style of food that best matched the type of wine being produced in different Sonoma AVAs.
The restaurant chosen were Pitt Cue, Devonshire Square, renown for its smoked meats, premium steak venue Hawksmoor and its Guildhall venue and the first flagship site of the multi-faceted M Restaurants in Threadneedle Street.
Three dishes were then selected from each of the restaurants menus that best worked with the wines to be shown in that outlet. The food was also chosen to challenge the wines and show how they can cope with different flavours, which would be what they would have to do with guests sharing wine and food. The three restaurants also had to be within a practical distance of each other to make the Sonoma culinary and wine mystery tour a logistical possibility. A big thanks goes to each of their hospitality teams for helping the tour run smoothly and for the food and wine matches made.
Our thanks also go to Sonoma County Vintners and all the participating wineries for making it happen and the following brave souls for joining The Buyer’s first Wine Bar Tour.
Greg Sherwood MW: Handford Wines
Roger Jones: The Harrow at Little Bedwyn
Tal Groinen: China Tang, The Dorchester
Joe Fattorini, consultant, broadcaster and presenter of ITV’s The Wine Show
Joe Wadsack, consultant, broadcaster and drinks expert on ITV’s This Morning
Richard Ellison: Wanderlust Wines
Mike Matthews: Warren Wines
Christina Rasmussen: Wine writer
Rory Benham: The Wine Treasury
Chris Manthei: The Wine Treasury
James Hocking: The Vineyard Cellars.
- If you would like to co-host a similar tour of restaurants and bars to showcase different styles of wine, spirits or beer then contact Richard Siddle at firstname.lastname@example.org.