It is hard to find a slot in the London tasting calendar, never mind come up with a whole new concept. The London Wine Fair hopes it has done both with its new Epicurean show aimed at trade and consumers alike in October which promises to be a showcase for artisan and craft beers, wines and spirits producers.
If you are looking for something crafty or artisan for the back bar then Ross Carter of London Wine Fair fame says put October 28 and 29 in your diary for the first Epicurean trade show.
Now we might all be very familiar with the London Wine Fair. Not only has it been serving the trade for some 36 years, it does very much what it says on the tin. But it’s new venture, The Epicurean, takes a little more to get your head round.
But when you consider a definition of Epicurean is to be “devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure” then it sounds a bit more enticing than even spending a day at Olympia tasting and talking about wine.
But coming from Brintex, the organisers of the London Wine Fair, it is actually all about bringing artisan producers of wine, spirits, beer and food together for what it hopes will be a very different two day affair at London’s Old Truman Brewery on October 28-29.
It is also the first time that Brintex has put on an event aimed at consumers, never mind all categories of the drinks trade. But it believes both sides of the fence are on the same journey of discovery in to the world of craft and artisan producers which, on paper, makes the Epicurean such an interesting prospect.
Ross Carter, director of LWF, is also heading up the new show. He admits it is a bit of a risk, but believes the time is right to do something outside of LWF, particular if it could involve beers, wines and spirits. “The cross category element of the show is key,” he says.
So is deciding who qualifies as a craft or artisan producer when so many bigger brands are trying to claim their own craft credentials. For Carter it is quite clear. “We are looking for products that are hard to find. By hand crafted we mean not being readily available on every high street. We would like as much of the products on show to be as artisanal as possible,” he explains.
It is still too early to be sure who the split between wines, beers and spirits will go, but Carter thinks it will end up being around 40% wine, 30% to 40% beer and the rest spirits. He expects there to be around 150 exhibitors on the day.
There will be no white tablecloths on show at The Epicurean. Instead producers will have specially designed 1.8m (£750 each) or 1.2m (£500) wooden pods to work with, built and designed by Brintex. “We want the look to be clean, contemporary and easy to navigate.”
Carter is also keen to get restaurants involved who can take out their own pods to showcase their food and drinks offer.
The show will also include a number of artisan food producers and visitors will be able to buy food and drink on the day either from the producers directly or from a dedicated bar.
Carter says there will be “sip, splash and pour” drinks options for visitors. Sip being free, a splash a 50ml measure and a pour a 125ml serving with appropriate charge.
The show is being split in to four sessions over the two days. Three for consumers and one free trade day, aimed more at the on-trade and press. The consumer sessions will be priced at £25 a ticket.
There will only be 1,300 places available to the trade, with Carter hopeful it will attract discerning buyers, particularly from the on-trade, who are on the look out for something a bit different or exclusive for their outlets. “We are looking for people with genuine buying power to attend,” he stresses.
As for consumers, Carter is confident the show will be appeal to what the trade loosely describes as “drinks enthusiasts”. Or drinkers who are actively willing to give new products a go. And, more importantly, buy them.
Carter hopes to lure them in with a creative social media campaign developed by digital specialists, Kazoo.
As well as tasting and imbibing on the day, visitors will be able to buy products direct from the stands and build up mixed boxes that can be posted to them after the show.
As for entertainment. There will be music. More the Spotify shuffle route than any live bands and there will be educational talks, but more of the stand up routine than a stuffy masterclass.
If that’s whetted your appetite, then find out more here.
* Nearly 80 exhibitors have already signed up for the event. These include:
Budvar UK Ltd, Cidres Le Brun, Duvel Moortgat, Fordham and Old Dominion, Good Taste Food and Drink, Gosnells London Mead, Harviestoun Brewery, Instil, Meantime, Moncada Brewery, Sxollie Cider, Thistly Cross, Tim Coles, Wild Card Brewery, Billy Franks, Caviar Artisan, Good Taste Food and Drink, Lalani & Co, Little Bit Food, Luss Smokehouse, Riedel, Wenlock Spring, Brighton Gin, Curio Spirits, East London Liquor Company, Green Island Rum, JBE Imports, Kimerud Gin, Cognac Frapin, Pinkster Gin, Rockland Family Distillers, Sisserou, Strathearn Distillery, Alpine Wines, Baer’s Brewery, Bolney Estate, Carmelita, City Wine Collection, Connoisseur Estates, Corney and Barrow, Fells, Grahams, Hayward Brothers, Hugel, Knightor Vermouth, London Cru, New York Wine and Grape Foundation, Original and Distinctive, Out the Box, Pimlico Cellars, Red Squirrel Wines, Richmond Wine Agencies, Ridgeview Estate, Sherry Boutique, SimaVin LTD, Smashing Wines, Sonvino Ltd, Soul Tree Wine, SWIG, TAS Wines, The Prosecco Project, The Vintner, Thirsty, Wines of California, WSET, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Boxer Gin.