Category Archives: Wine

Wine Festival

How to navigate a wine festival

Hello Tastourians!

We have two fabulous wine festivals coming up, Wines of Chile on 25th September and Decanter’s flagship event on 4th November. (click on the event to view on our social club, Meetup, or see below for free ticket offers/discounts

Blog post: How to navigate a wine festival

If you haven’t been to a wine festival, it’s quite hard to understand the value of them or how to navigate your way around the room. In this blog I would like to share with you some tips and tricks 

Pre-event

1. You don’t need any knowledge about wine to attend a wine festival. But having an understanding of what type of wines you like will help you discover more wines of a similar style.

2. These events are fantastic to do on your own

3. If you invite friends, have a meeting point for the end of the day as you may decide you have different taste or speeds of tasting

3. You need to make sure you eat well before attending and have a plan to eat afterward.

4. Buy your own spittoon, such as a flower vase if you know that you become tipsy after a few glasses. Yes I may look silly to you, but it’s less silly than not being able to stand up! or worse, using the communal spittoons and spraying on someone’s white trousers!

Okay so bring your own spittoon may not be a tip you use, hopefully some of the other info below will help you enjoy your next festival more!

How to navigate a wine festival

At the event

1. The tasting book – Plan your day

Each festival will have between 200-600 wines to try. At reception there is a book with all the wines listed per table. Depending on the festival the may be organised by region or style. At the festivals that Tastour promotes, such as Decanter or Wines of Chile, there is usually a host that will guide you around the tasting based on a theme.

Many people like to plan their day by marking which tables they would like to visit, other people prefer to wonder around the room and choose by looking at the labels. Either way, please do not feel that you need to write poetic notes in your book. A star or circle if you really like a wine is more than enough to jog your memory should you want to google it to find out where you can buy it.

One of my top tips is to make a note in your book as to what number table has sparkling wines (as that’s where most people choose to start) and the table numbers of the sweet wines (as that’s where most people finish)

Think about what your goals are. Would you like to try something new? Or perhaps understand how a grape you already know you love taste different depending on the region? or maybe you have no educational goal and you just want to try your favourites.

Maybe you see this as an opportunity to try wines you could never afford. Some of the wines retail at over £200 and you could easily try 10 wines that cost over £50 without even trying.  Most tasting booklets do not list the price of the wine. This is to deter people from only choosing the expensive wines, but you can often tell this by looking at the vintage or perhaps you may recognise some of the producers.

How to navigate a wine festival

2. Glassware

Outside of each tasting room is a glass station. Most tastings will have a rule that you are not allowed to walk between rooms with your glass. There is usually a staff member to remind you. You are welcomed to change your glass as many times as you like during the festival. I recommend changing your glass if you try a red wine or sweet wine, then would like to try a white or dry wine. There is also water on each of the tasting tables for you to rinse your glass.

How to navigate a wine festival

3. Bottomless wine for 3-6 hours

Yes, Bottomless Wine is probably the best way to describe a wine festival, although I’m sure the producers would like to feel that their is more artistic appreciation for whats on offer.

Each table will be hosted by the producer, wine maker, importer or the marketing agent. Some table host will pour very generous samples. I tend to ask for smaller samples as I prefer to try more wines. Never be embarrassed to pour out any wine that you do not want to drink. Or to share that you didn’t like that style. It may that your table host can recommend something you like even more.

Most table host have excellent wine knowledge and will speak good English and welcome any questions you may have. Don’t be afraid to ask, which grape is this? Do you age it in wood? What is the altitude? How much does it retail for? Do you sell this wine in the UK?

The tables may be busy, so don’t be afraid to push yourself into any open gaps at the front of the table, politely of course! You can ask the table host to recommend a wine in the style you like, ask him to only pour you wines over a certain age, or just try the whites. They may have a recommended order that your try the wines, but please don’t feel obliged to try the whole table. What wines you try is completely up to you!

If you can, try to It is best to try wines in the following order: Sparkling, White – Dry, White, Semi – Dry, Red, Sweet – White, Sweet – Red (and within each category, from light body to full body)

How to navigate a wine festival

4. Pace yourself and socialise. One of the best parts of a wine festival is that everyone there shares a common interest. If you ask anyone which wine they enjoyed the most you will be able to start a conversation with them. This not only makes it more fun, but it also helps slow down your alcohol consumption. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day and if you feel heavily intoxicated, it’s okay not to stay to the finish.

 How to navigate a wine festival

5. The value

For me, the main value is the opportunity to try so many different wine styles under one roof. I love being able to compare different grapes and trying ones that I have never heard of. But that is super wine geeky! To put a monetary value on the tasting, if I was paying using a top up card for each sample poured from a restaurants enomatic wine dispenser, I estimate that I would spend between £300-500.

FREE TICKETS FOR MEMBERS & DISCOUNT CODES

How to navigate a wine festival

So how do you sign up/book your next wine festival?

Tastourians who do not pay a membership fee are usually offered a discount code. Our paid members are eligible to apply for free tickets to wine festivals.

If you upgrade your membership for only £70 per year and enjoy up to 10 socialTASTING’s, and tickets to various tastings hosted by our partners such as Decanter for free. We also organise private dinner parties, discounted Michelin Starred dining, BYOB restaurants, theatre, secret super clubs and many more exclusive events, just for our Bon Vivant Members. For more information & and upgrade your membership visit: http://tastour.com/member-registration/

We have two fabulous wine festivals coming up, Wines of Chile on 25th September and Decanter’s flagship event on 4th November. You don’t need to be a paid member to attend and we would love for you to join us. If you did want to join as a member and would like a free ticket, please join through the link above and email me on info@tastour.co.uk to be added to the list.

What our members say:

“A terrifc way to try wines you haven’t heard of of were too afraid to buy.  As the day progresses everyone gets (or seems) so much more friendly (especially those without a spitoon!): I am yet to leave a wine festival without new friends I have seen again – some inside the bottle and some out.  Top tip: don’t book an evening activity afterwards.” – Gary, a Bon Vivant member

SPECIAL TASTOUR OFFER FOR DECANTER’S FLAGSHIP EVENT
http://www.decanter.com/decanter-fine-wine-encounter/
The Decanter Fine Wine Encounter
Sunday 4 November 2018 – save 25%
11am – 5pm, Grand Tasting Tickets only £60 (instead of £80) use code TASTOUR at checkout 

Decanter PL

Wine Notes and Facts for Decanter Pessac-Léognan Tasting, London

Hello Tastourians,

Wine Fairs are difficult to gather the group around, so I thought I’d share my notes with you. Yes, I am a wine geek, and whenever I go to an event such as this I always research and create a ‘presentation’.  But more importantly, whenever I host an event, it’s all about giving you the best experience.

Pessac-Léognan (PL)

It’s pronounced pay-sac-lay-oh-nyahn… and I challenge you all to say that 3 times fast at the end of the Decanter tasting tomorrow night.

PL is an appellation in the sub region of Graves. It is not actually in Bordeaux, it’s located 25 miles outside the city centre of Bordeaux. But the wines are so far superior than any other in the appellation that an exception has been made. For example, Château Haut-Brion, is the only First Growth property outside the Médoc. This regions ego is rightfully-so bloated, it actually fought and won its independence from the Graves region 1987… that’s boring and legal, and I know why you’re really reading… you want to know the best tables to go to at the tasting.

What is everyone raving about? What makes this wine taste so different than the rest? When you think of Graves, think Gravel. Hey, maybe that’s where it got its name? In fact it is. See not everything I say is a bunt hit to the pitcher. PL wines are extra – earthy and some say the most soil-driven of all the wines in Bordeaux. But that’s not all. This region has the hottest micro-climate of Bordeaux, meaning that the wines will be richer and fuller in body; much more like those of its southern neighbours and new world brothers.

You may get the following: Roasted Meat, Tobacco, Leather, Iron, Spice

Here’s a Tastour Tip: Pessac and Léognan are two different villages 6 miles (10Km) apart, with Léognan being the most southern region . So, if you’re looking to strike up a conversation with that gorgeous blonde, that one will surly win him or her over.

Here’s another interesting fact: During the English Reign of France, they exported barrels of wine from Graves to England. Making Grave the first French wines exported. This is slightly ironic, as the main export today is timber. Unlike many of the other regions in Bordeaux this area is densely populated with forest.

Drum roll, please… I have one more. I have heard that Haut Brion is credited for being the first Bordeaux wine to receive a professional review on April 10th 1663. What do you think Samuel Pepys would say about Robert Parker? hummm.

So what about the whites? Whites are rare in Bordeaux. However, you’re in luck. The most prestigious whites in Bordeaux come from this region, in fact 20% of the wines from PL are white). When you see one, take note of its age. I’m often telling you to drink Sauvignon Blancs young. This is not the case for wines from Graves. They often age up to a decade. I sure hope Decanter has lined up a few for us to try! These will not be the fresh fruit driven Sauvignon Blancs you are used to. They will be made fat and round, by obsessive lees-feeding and oak soaking greedy grapes. For me, a little bit of greed is a good thing, and I hope you don’t mind if I exhibit the same as I love this style of white. Uncommonly for Old World wines, producers of this region treat their whites like an aspiring actress. They’ve has slight cosmetic surgery… like a bit of Botox and a citrus peel. A little goes a long way, and under the knife of a good surgeon can perform miracles. In case you’re wondering, the grapes they use are Sauvignon Blanc (minimum 25%, Sémillon and small amounts of Muscadelle. You might be able to smell orange blossom and passion fruits (if you’re not too busy chatting away)

Okay, so you’ve read this far, and your reward is the answer to the million dollar question…
Kelly, There are 16 Grand Cru Classés, which ones are going to be at the Decanter Fine Wine Tasting?

It would be mind blowing if all 16 were there – for £25. However, there is a fantastic selection and all 23 producers offer fantastic wines.

I’ll give you a little tip – if it says Cru Classé de Graves (then go there first, as they will be out of wine by 7pm) On this list, the best are: Oliver, Couhins Lurton, Domaine de Chevalier, Carbonnieux, Malartic-Lagraviere

When they run out, the Tastour Tip, is to go to these underdogs: Larrivet Haut-Brion, de Fieuzal, La Louvière, de Rochemorin

What are the best vintages? Well with a the exception of Haut-Brion, and Mission Haut-Brion, the region wasn’t on the wine investment map. Things really changed from 2005, so if you are looking for some bargain investments, start with this vintage.
I’d love to hear what the producers are saying so do ask, and post it in the comments.

Looking forward to seeing you all there! Hope these notes help.

Kelly

Happy New Year miniTASTING: Thursday night

Thursday January 30, 2014 at 19:00

Happy New Year miniTASTING: Thursday nightMap and Directions

This month’s tasting theme is:

It’s the New Year… time for us all to learn something new & do something different.

I’m a firm believer that you can wish people Happy New Year up until the Chinese New Year, (which is the 31th Jan 2014 -see you’ve learnt something already).  So come along and learn about wine!

As usual… At this tasting you’ll learn the difference between three classic wines, and a few tips on how to tell them apart, plus you’ll learn a few interesting facts to share at your next dinner party.

Please note: We do not include the name of the wines as it’s more about opening your mind and encouraging conversation with the people that come.

The new miniTASTINGS format is a huge success.  More quality wine… more food and wine pairing… more laughter and more great people to meet.

Event details:

Each month is a new learning theme… So, if you’re confusing your Pinot Grigio with your Pinot Gris? Get a quick fix and learn a thing or two about wine with Tastour.

Around 50 wine lovers gather at this event – it’s more informal than a guided Tastour tasting and it’s just as much fun.

If you’re coming alone for the first time, don’t worry – I’ll be there with a big welcoming smile and make sure are introduced to a fun group of people.

Cost of the wine tasting:

only £12 if pre-paid on-line 24 hours in advance

£15 cash on the door

FREE for Bon Vivant members, why not join today?

great!

CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR TICKETS & PAY

 

What’s included:

You’ll enjoy a 1 hour guided side-by-side tasting comparison of 3 expensive/unsual wines and some food pairings.

Each month is a different learning theme, giving you tips and tricks to help you learn what you like and why you like it so that you can shop smarter and save money.

Attending on your own?  Don’t worry!!  Most attendees will be on their own and our events are designed to make you feel like your one of the regulars as soon as you arrive.

If you would like to pre-pay and receive the advance price, the link above will redirect you to the Tastour website, where your money will be collected via paypal or credit card. It is quick and easy!

Special offer! You can come for free if you get 3 of your friends to book too!
(Pay for all tickets in advance, then we’ll give you cash back on the night, email info@tastour.co.uk for details)

Venue: The Red Herring, 49 Gresham Street City of London, EC2V 7EH

Time: The doors open for check-in at 6:45 pm, however we are there from 6, if you would like to have a pre-tasting drink.  The  tasting starts at 7:00pm and ends at 8pm.  However, most people stay on for a bit of social and drink after the tasting.

Nearest Tube: St Paul’s

Also nearby, Bank, Moorgate, Mansion House

 

 

About Tastour

Tastour, UK Wine Educator of the Year*, makes meeting people and learning about food and drink fun, easy and engaging. With a diverse range of events, priced from £5, there is really something for everyone – from epicurean tastings and exclusive dinners, recipe swaps and walking tours to day trips and social networking nights. Our signature speedTASTING events, filled with one-liners and quirky facts, are all served alongside quality food and drink. Bring a date, your mates or come along on your own, we hope to see you at a Tastour soon!
To buy tickets or for more information about Tastour and our award-winning weekly epicurean events and private parties visit www.tastour.com or phone 07919053064
* Awarded by the International Wine Challenge 2010

miniTASTING Experience…

Written by
Sarah, Tastourian
Last Tuesday, I spent the evening meeting and talking to grapes…am I crazy? Was I trolleyed?!

Well, definitely not nuts, nor were the 50 others who were there.

Although it was a social drinks night, there was also a mini-wine tasting – rather aptly named a Tastour Tease! So not just a great night with some fun people, but I learned something as well! At the start of the evening, in small groups, you were guided through 3 different wines. We learnt a few tricks of trade about aromas and tips on how to find a wine that I liked. The guide said that we’ll be tackling a different subject every month. But it’s whet my appetite – they’re running a Champagne tasting on 24th April and I’m going to sign up tonight. The tasting was only hour, so there was plenty of time to get mingling, and test out my new-found smelling skills! All in all, a grape night!!

Register

Tour De Belfort

Organic wine is table art… Tour de Belfort

Have you ever tasted Love, when you taste wine?  A glass of Tour de Belfort is a taste of love. But like any true Love, the more time you spend getting to know each other, the more in Love you fall.  And fall hard, I did.

Organic wine is table art… it’s a centre piece of  conversation and admired for its inner beauty.

Every year, the staff at Tour de Belfort hand prune (cut) their 50,000 vines,
harvest 350,000 bunches of grapes, and meticulously sort (discard the bad ones) 21,000,000 grapes.

Their organic methods protect the very nature of the grape all the way from the flowers pollinated by their bees to the contents of the bottle. It’s an award-winning wine, receiving high marks from judges and barbecuers alike.

On average, most vineyards prune the vine to around 40 bunches of grapes, leaving the resulting juice bulkier and with less concentrated flavours.  However, at Tour de Belfort, each vine is left with only four to six bunches to ripen and harvest.

This young vineyard is planted with a high density of vines, but they are anything but greedy.  They cut and discard around 150,000 bunches of green grapes, red grapes before they ripen, from the vines to keep the harvest yields low and the wine tasty.

For every vine, they can squeeze only one half bottle of wine
 – it’s surprising that the wine is  under £10 per bottle!

Where is it? and why is it special?

The winery’s vineyard, Domaine de Belfort, located in the South West of France’s Causses du Quercy, is part of the Natura 2000 European (EEC) protected territory. This program focuses on protecting biodiversity, habitats, and species dependent on these lands. The vineyard began with the Ecocert certification program in 2009, which will give them organic certification after three years of inspections.

What is the EEC inspecting?
Herbicides or pesticides used on the vines? NO way! This is quite a feat, if you consider how many things like to eat grapes besides people.

What else makes it Natural Wine?

They don’t add any ingredients to preserve aroma, correct flavours, or alter the wine experience – no bones about it, natural wine is the naked grape.  With so many natural imperfections, great care goes into making sure every grape they use must be absolutely perfect.

The Taste

We had the pleasure of tasting their organic red at several of our tastings. There was mixed opinions about the wine – which is normal with natural wine.  In my opinion, those with more sophisticated palates were big fans of the clean, yet earthy tasting red made from a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah.  The varietal mix in the red we tried results in a complex wine with real length on the palate and high emphasis on fruit with soft accompanying tannins. As a tribute to this wine’s gentle character, Tour de Belfort actually recommends their red with white meat in addition to more typical grilled accompaniments, and I whole heartily agree.

I love the modern purple and gold label. It bears a picture of the Chateau as well as the +nature© seal stating that the grapes used are organic and that there will be no pesticide or other residues included with their wine.

Where can I buy it?

Tour de Belfort delivers to the UK, directly from the Vineyard, free of charge… be warned, you may fall in love too.

www.tour-de-belfort.com/
Facebook
Follow the owner’s daughter on Twitter  @MurielLismonde

Fantacy Canal by garyknight

Boat ride & Wine Tasting from Little Venice to Camden

Saturday April 21, 2012 at 18:00

Boat ride & Wine Tasting from Little Venice to CamdenMap and Directions

Who says learning can’t be fun? Our floating classroom will explore wine and make fascinating new London discoveries along the way.  It’s New World Camden vs Old World Little Venice – who will sink and who will swim? This is one boat ride you don’t want to miss.

About the Venue:

The Grand Canal is an extensive network stretching over 130 miles.  The section between Little Venice and Camden is one of the most scenic and historic.  The floating Classroom is a charitable vessel.  There is an outside viewing deck and inside seating for your comfort.

Dress: Smart casual: comfortable walking shoes

Time: 6:00-9:30

Welcome drinks and canapes from 6:00-6:30.  The floating classroom will depart at 6:30 and return at 9:30. Optional drinks at a nearby venue will be arranged for after the event.

Location:

Take Bishops Bridge Road towards the canal.  Turn left, walk for 3 minutes towards Little Venice on the canel.

Nearest Tube:

Paddington

Online Booking is required: For all Tastour award-winning events, pre-booking early is advised due to high demand.

 -Limited to 30 people

Group discount: Purchase 6 tickets get 1 free (emailinfo@tastour.co.uk for details)

What’s included?:

Welcome glass of Champagne, guided wine tasting of premium wine, delicious canapés, booking fee, PayPal fee, exclusive boat hire, 3 hour boat ride, donation to local schools

Cost:

Non Members

£55 secures your spot, if pre-paid on-line 1 week prior to the event

£59 is the standard price, if pre-paid within 7 days of the event

Bon Vivant Members

Only £48, if pre-paid on-line 1 week prior to the event

£52 is the standard price for members, if pre-paid within 7 days of the event

Bon Vivant Members save £8!

Why not join today?

Membership Information:

Tastour’s Bon Vivant membership is a fast track to becoming one of the Capital’s arbiters of taste.

As a Bon Vivant Member, you are entitled to:

-        Attend ALL monthly social drinks and miniTASTINGS for FREE (worth £300)

-       Receive exclusive invites to ‘members only’ events and social gatherings

-       Save up to 70% off pay-as-you-go events.  A total savings of over £500 per year!

-       Meet and mingle regularly with other members at exclusive events in and around London

Register

Wine and cheese

BON VIVANT: Spring Fine Wine Tasting at Exclusive Tennis Club

Saturday May 19, 2012 at 14:00

BON VIVANT: Spring Fine Wine Tasting at Exclusive Tennis ClubMap and Directions

Bon Vivant members are invited to join us for this lavish affair in the secluded, beautiful gardens of one of London’s most exclusive Tennis Clubs, Holland Park Lawn Tennis.  Not only is this an opportunity to socialize outdoors whilst enjoying watching some tennis, but this is also a fine wine tasting, so be prepared to experience some amazing, top-of-the-range wines, some of which would cost up to £40 per GLASS in a restaurant!  We’ll also be matching the fine wine with various types of Artisan Cheese. These specially aged and ripened cheeses are handmade by skilled cheese makers to produce deliciously complex flavors and a variety of world renowned cheeses.    It’s a match definitely not to be missed!

Time:

Tasting from 2-4pm, however .guests are welcome to stay on and enjoy the tennis and the relaxed, social atmosphere until the 6pm

 

Location: It’s only a 7 minute walk from the tube; however, please bring your map, as its exclusive location may be a little tricky to find.  It is NOT located inside of Holland Park.

http://www.hollandparkltc.co.uk/
Nearest Tube:

Holland Park

Online Booking is required
(Contact us for other payment methods other than PayPal)

For all Tastour award-winning events, pre-booking early is advised due to high demand.

 

What’s included:

Guided Fine Wine tasting with wines retailing at up to £60 per bottle.

Tastings of delicious and complex Artisan Cheeses, the perfect pairing for fine wine!

An invitation to enjoy the beautiful and exclusive Holland Park Lawn Tennis Club.

The opportunity to enjoy a fine day outdoors, rubbing shoulders with other interesting, like-minded people.

 

Cost:

Only £35, if pre-paid on-line 1 week prior to the event

£40 if pre-paid within 7 days of the event

£50 for a Member’s guest

 

This exclusive event is available to Bon Vivant members only.

So, why not join today?

Membership Information:

Tastour’s Bon Vivant membership is a fast track to becoming one of the Capital’s arbiters of taste.

As a Bon Vivant Member, you are entitled to:

-        Attend ALL monthly social drinks and miniTASTINGS for FREE (worth £300)

-       Receive exclusive invites to ‘members only’ events and social gatherings

-       Save up to 70% off pay-as-you-go events.  A total savings of over £500 per year!

-       Meet and mingle regularly with other members at exclusive events in and around London

Register

Wine and cheese

BON VIVANT: Autumn Fine Wine Tasting at Exclusive Tennis Club

Saturday October 13, 2012 at 14:00

BON VIVANT: Autumn Fine Wine Tasting at Exclusive Tennis ClubMap and Directions

Bon Vivant members are invited to join us for this lavish affair in the secluded, beautiful gardens of one of London’s most exclusive Tennis Clubs, Holland Park Lawn Tennis.  Not only is this an opportunity to socialize outdoors whilst enjoying watching some tennis, but this is also a fine wine tasting, so be prepared to experience some amazing, top-of-the-range wines, some of which would cost up to £40 per GLASS in a restaurant!  We’ll also be matching the fine wine with various types of Artisan Cheese. These specially aged and ripened cheeses are handmade by skilled cheese makers to produce deliciously complex flavors and a variety of world renowned cheeses.    It’s a match definitely not to be missed!

Time:

Tasting from 2-4pm, however .guests are welcome to stay on and enjoy the tennis and the relaxed, social atmosphere until the 6pm

 

Location: It’s only a 7 minute walk from the tube; however, please bring your map, as its exclusive location may be a little tricky to find.  It is NOT located inside of Holland Park.

http://www.hollandparkltc.co.uk/
Nearest Tube:

Holland Park

Online Booking is required
(Contact us for other payment methods other than PayPal)

For all Tastour award-winning events, pre-booking early is advised due to high demand.

 

What’s included:

Guided Fine Wine tasting with wines retailing at up to £60 per bottle.

Tastings of delicious and complex Artisan Cheeses, the perfect pairing for fine wine!

An invitation to enjoy the beautiful and exclusive Holland Park Lawn Tennis Club.

The opportunity to enjoy a fine day outdoors, rubbing shoulders with other interesting, like-minded people.

 

Cost:

Only £35, if pre-paid on-line 1 week prior to the event

£40 if pre-paid within 7 days of the event

£50 for a Member’s guest

 

This exclusive event is available to Bon Vivant members only.

So, why not join today?

Membership Information:

Tastour’s Bon Vivant membership is a fast track to becoming one of the Capital’s arbiters of taste.

As a Bon Vivant Member, you are entitled to:

-        Attend ALL monthly social drinks and miniTASTINGS for FREE (worth £300)

-       Receive exclusive invites to ‘members only’ events and social gatherings

-       Save up to 70% off pay-as-you-go events.  A total savings of over £500 per year!

-       Meet and mingle regularly with other members at exclusive events in and around London

Register