You can always tell how far a place is coming up in the world when you have a regular wine tasting. Now, to my knowledge, Greenwich has three – and one beer tasting. There could be more, but if there are, I’ve not been invited
Theatre of Wine in Trafalgar Road (as if I need to tell anyone) is the best-known tasting in Greenwich, of course. Held every Thursday, fun and noisy, with everyone packed around a table slightly too small for them, they’re partly educational and partly canny sales technique (I can’t be the first Phantom who’s ordered a whole bunch of bottles because I failed to use the spittoon as much as I could have done…) but they’re mostly popular (and hugely so – they virtually always sell out weeks beforehand) because they’re fun. They’re a mixture of curious beginners, stubborn ‘I-don’t care-about-what-it-is-I-either-like-it-or-I-don’ts’, tentative proto-collectors and the odd wine snob, shocked because virtually nobody uses that spittoon.
I don’t get to go very often, but when I do I always meet someone new and interesting, hear all sorts of weird gossip, oh, and I get to drink some nice wine too. I sometimes even buy some. Cost: the current batch is between £19 and £30, but it varies depending on the prices of the wines tasted.
Davy’s tastings are less regular – about once a month. I confess to being a bit of a fan of Davy’s Wine Vaults. I utterly love the building (part of the old Lovibonds brewery) and although it’s a chain, the place doesn’t feel like it. The staff are great. I had a waitress the other day who really went the extra mile, warning us off a particularly sloping table (the whole floor slopes so they could roll barrels more easily when it was a brewery) and she even donned an anorak after we’d finished so she could let my friend out of the car park in the snow (parking is free if you’re dining/drinking there – not recommended for tastings – but the gates are locked after the shop shuts.) The food’s pretty good, though a bit variable in quality, and although not all of the wine is to my taste, there’s plenty that is.
I’m afraid I’ve never been to one of their tastings, mainly because I just keep forgetting to look up when the next one is going to be. Perhaps someone who’s been to one could give me the low down? The next one, all about Burgundian wines, is on the 23rd June. Prices on the current batch range between £20 and £50
Which leads me to the new kid on the wine block. Tom Gilbert (he’s developing a website but it’s not there yet) is a sommelier over at Canary Wharf, who’s started a wine club over at the recently-renovated Duke in Creek Road. He hosts it himself on Mondays between 7.30pm and 9.00pm and it’s been going well so he wants to open it to everyone. The ethos, he tells me, is ‘friendly and fun’ rather than formal, but to be honest, that’s most of the tastings I’ve been to in the past few years. I can’t remember the last ‘formal’ tasting I went to. It costs £15 and you try 9 wines.
And there’s one other Greenwich tasting that I forgot earlier when I posted this for the sole reason that, as regulars will know, I’m not a beer drinker.
Our very own brewery – and our very own Phantom Brewmaster, Rod. Rod conducts tutored beer tastings at The Old Brewery, in addition, he tells me, to the tours shown on the website. Afternoons and early evenings during the week are best, as the bar and restaurant get too busy and noisy later on. Tastings can be tailored to whatever the group is interested in – duration and cost will vary according to the number and type of beers tasted. Group size ideally from 6 to 14.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
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