You would think that as my parents used to own a vineyard near Bordeaux I would know a thing or two about wine, right? Wrong. I know very little about wine other that what I like and that tends to be a very narrow Which is why I was thrilled when Wine List got in touch and asked if I wanted to see what it is they do
Their idea is very simple. They are a wine club but with an emphasis on learning. Rather than just sending out cases of wine every month they focus on sending out 2, 6 or 12 bottles each month along with comprehensive notes that help you not just taste the wine but learn more about it. There are also pairing notes so you can enjoy each glass with food that works perfectly, and learn more about the person who made the wine.
That last bit is the crucial bit for me and probably the only thing I took away from my parents owning their vineyard. Every wine maker has a story. They have a reason for making the wine, for owning their vineyard, or for working with local co-operatives sourcing grapes. Nobody does it for the hell of it and it is those stories that I have always found fascinating.
For my parents it was about what they would do for the next forty years after my dad always decided that he would retire at fifty. With a love of wine, their joint business know how, and fluency in French they found a place for sale advertised in the Times, went to look at it and bought it a few months later. The house was derelict but whilst renovating they set about reviving the vines and reigniting the name. The story of why my mum’s signature is on the capsule is one that I am proud of and is why I now make a point of learning what I can about the wine I drink.
Each bottle included is handpicked from small producers so it is likely you might not have come across them before, or tasted the grapes as they highlight the lesser known ones, along with smaller regions and styles. And the course doesnt just focus on the wines themselves but builds a real knowledge of the core principles of wine such as how to taste, yeast, climate, regions, style and age. All without jargon or fuss.
I have often felt there can be a real snobbery around wine that means we are often too scared to ask question for fear of looking daft or not understanding the barrage of words that come in the response. So often stick to the one wine we know, or think that buying an expensive bottle to take to the dinner party is the right way to choose when in fact it could be a waste of money.
We were sent two bottles, an Alvinho from L A Ferraz, 2018 and a L’Echappee Bell from Domaine Odyssée 2010. Each came with a tasting card so you can note down key characteristics such as colour, sweetness, body and finish. There’s also an aroma profile wheel and a booklet on how to smell, how to look at wine and how to taste it. All of it in really friendly straightforward way, without any signs of it being patronising.
This clearly is a company that wants to people to learn about wine, not just sell it.
Why not have a look at their gift subscriptions page and sign up a friend or loved one?