Theatre of Wine


God – if only there were more shops of this quality in East Greenwich…

Situated on the otherwise rather scruffy Trafalgar Road, hardly a paragon of upmarket fashion, Theatre of Wine seduces you even before you know quite what it actually is. It is a wine store – but such a wine store. With stripped wooden floors, gilt shabby-chic furnishings, plush velvets and a music stand announcing the opening hours, it doesn’t take much working out that this is run by an ex-actor.

The thing is – ToW actually delivers what it promises. So many places look fancy but don’t come up with the goods, but Theatre of Wine has a dedicated team who search out the very best wine and present it unfailingly beautifully. The high wooden shelves, topped with bizarre memorabilia, old theatrical props and ancient wine advertisements are crammed with bottles, each with a little cardboard label explaining why the owners love that particular wine.

There is really only one time to go to Theatre of Wine. Thursday evening. Although you can just pop in to buy stuff that night, Thursday nights (and the odd Tuesday) are tasting nights. A large trestle table groans with glasses, foodie bits and samples of the stuff you’re going to drink. An odd collection of seating awaits – make sure you arrive early – there are one or two ‘comedy’ fun-fur pouffes for latecomers which look like they’re been whisked from some 1970s tart’s parlour. Actually though, if you arrive REALLY late you get seated in the table in the window – fab.

Each week has a theme, but it is never stuffy or preachy. They’re sometimes even rude – or at least honest – about their own buying mistakes. There’s usually a massive gourmet cheese or interesting nibbles to go with it and though spittoons are supplied Daniel’s very understanding if you prefer to just drink your samples (most do.)

Booking is advised as the numbers are limited. Prices range from around £12 per person to over £50 depending on what kind of drinks are being tested.

Every so often they run a six-week wine tasting course for beginners, run by the quietly-spoken but very knowledgeable Jake – definitely money well spent. But if you’re not certain, ask any of the friendly staff to recommend stuff and they’ll bend over backwards to help.

Out of interest, Daniel Ilsley, ToW’s owner, made a short film set in Greenwich and its environs last year. A fine little movie which premiered at one of their own tasting nights and then featured in the irritatingly ill-publicised Greenwich Film Festival. I wish it luck with wider distribution.

I happily endorse Theatre of Wine as one of The Phantom’s Favourite Haunts

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