Wendy has advertised a Wine Tasting from a local company and gets the regulars to play a part in selecting the wines for the pub. She has twelve willing participants who have paid £15 which includes some nibbles from the kitchen. There are eight women and four men all between 35 and 50. A wine merchant has given them a Prosecco to start – Italian. The host tells them there will be a short wine quiz later. He then tells them about the prosecco, low frizzante which means low fizz-Casa Defra. Everyone obviously pays attention as he tells them about the production of the prosecco and how his wines are directly from producers. The company has been going for eight years and they are based in Cheltenham selling to restaurants.
They get their first glass of white wine, Torre solar Macabeo Spain. ‘It’s quite light, best drunk in warm weather in Spain….wines always taste best drunk in the vineyard…this is an upmarket Macabeo. It’s quite a fat bottle’ he says. Wendy says ‘ I always like a fat bottle’. Gradually the chat becomes louder, calling across the snug to each other. The second white wine arrives and people ask for a second glass before having finished the first. The second is an Italian Baccola Bianco, Appassimento, Parzile, Sauvignon Blank and Garganino grapes. He compares it with the New Zealand Sauvignon Blank and two of the group own up to being from there. Someone takes a picture of themselves drinking. The next set of wines are white from France – Languadoc duc de Mornay picpoul (grape) de Pinet. ‘This is the most popular white wine in their line, the same, consistent, organic grapes and a better class of hangover, great with fish’. And then they taste three red wines from Chile, Italy and South Africa.
Wine glasses pile up on the tables and Wendy sits down with them for a while and then jumps up guiltily as she notes two of us are waiting at the bar. Someone asks which restaurants they supply in Cheltenham as they live there. There are pens on the table as the tasters comment on the handout that has been supplied. The main bar is quiet with only four people having a business/arts meeting.
The wine merchant enjoys talking to the regulars about wines in general and Italian wines in particular. Evelyn then brings a regular a pigeon dish with beetroot he had ordered and the wine merchant offers him a South African Merlot which is gratefully received. Some snacks arrive and the tasters dig in and Wendy calls out ‘does anyone want more snacks’ to the main regulars bar. There are lots of glasses half full and the volume of chat grows as he gives out quiz sheets and organises them into teams. The wine merchant puts on his glasses and also moves the tapas plates from the tables so they can record their answers to the quiz. They all have to have a team name. They are multiple choice questions. Wine and sports quizzes. A glass is broken but they continue with quiz. The laughter rises and it becomes noisier. They all cheer at the end of the quiz and announcement of the winners.