6 tips for a cool wine list...
We love wine, right? So, do our clients. When it came to writing something about wine, we thought, why not ask the party man at JH – our Events Manager, Bruno Belchior to put together some tips for a cool wine list.
We could say that at Just Hospitality we take wine very seriously. It is also true, that we add a great dose of coolness and fun to it. This comes from the fact that we are the in-house caterers and consequently the food-and-drink lifestyle partners for some of the most innovative and trendsetting tech-media companies in London.
If our motto is “Eat Happy” for all the awesome food we do, we could say that “enjoy your wine happily” is our strapline when it comes to the wine side of things. With that in mind there is nothing better than writing a blog about some of the most incredible, distinct wines out there in the market and some of which we’re proud to have as a part of the wine list at JH.
We have consulted with wine expert Neill McKenzie at Ellis Wines (we did mention earlier that we take wine very seriously). Neill has been our wine supplier since day 1. It is through him that we get the opportunity to sample and discover brilliant wines from all over the world. Wines from small and independent producers, some from remote regions in their countries and where in some cases there’s only 3 people and a dog doing the harvest. These are wines with great stories behind their labels.
Nevertheless, we can't ignore the classics. And this is tip #1
A cool wine list or collection should include a Bordeaux, a Rioja, or even a Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc. We all love to see classic favourites or find something we recognise in any list. After all balance is key. And balance is cool.
Tip #2 – Focus on quality instead of quantity.
Direct your preferences (and money) towards a good and eclectic variety rather than stocking up on lots of 1 or 2 particular types of wines. Moreover, what would your friends and family say if you end up serving them the same wine all the time (even if it comes at a price of £100/bottle) including when you want to surprise them?
Tip #3 – Precision.
We just said that eclecticism and variety are important but avoid getting carried away. No point of having 10 different Sauvignons if we then have spicy dishes crying out for a Chenin or a Malvasia.
This takes us to tip #4 – Remember the food pairing.
With wines, you want to have the coolest of the marriages where balance is key once again. Be it smooth wines where fruit is queen meeting succulent roast dishes. Be it wines with that outstanding personality meeting exotic cooking. Hence, if you love an awesome and tender roasted lamb, a good tip to enrich your collection will be a Spanish red Azabache Rioja – an organic and more modern style of Rioja. Can't say no to a good tomato based piripiri chicken? Look no further than Leone Rosso from Orcia, Tuscany in Italy – an intensely coloured red with a fine aroma which will be a superb match for the sauce and the chicken’s seasonings themselves. A fan of fish dishes either Mediterranean style or a bit richer on the spicy side? Be bold and pick white wines like Viognier from Southern France, Pinot Gris from New Zealand, Vermentino from Italy or Albariño from Spain – all great wines and fantastic alternatives to the oaked Chardonnay that always would fill this slot.
Tip #5 – Make it personal and relevant to yourself.
In other words, don’t overlook wine for the mood as part of your selections. For example, if you often end up leaving the office and taking work home that will eventually require you to burn the midnight oil here's a suggestion – Turning Heads Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Fresh and zingy, lively with vibrant fruit. A nice glass of it will provide you the inspiration you may need ;)
Lastly, tip #6 – Be open minded.
There’s great stuff out there – modern, exciting and quirky wines from Argentina to Australia, Uruguay to Austria, Portugal to South Africa, England to Italy. We could even say “if in doubt, do buy them”. That’s what we aim for when we create our own list every year. Not only featuring the necessary classics but also making room for what’s a bit off piste.
To conclude, if you ever wonder “right, so where do I start in that new and alternative wine world?”, we leave you here 3 fun and authentic recommendations: A Malvasia from Italy, a Pinot Noir from Portugal and a sparkly from England.
What a great name for a great wine. From Abruzzo in Italy (East of Rome and a region with an Adriatic coastline and the Apennine Mountains) this dry white wine (100% Malvasia grapes) ticks the organic and biodynamic boxes. And "whether you harvest your grapes naked by the light of the moon or not" (as Neill says) by biodynamic it means it respects the soil and land being produced without harming the environment in any shape or form. The wine is vivaciously pale gold in colour with a soft and ripe palate with notes of nectarine, peach, orange zest and candied lemon peel. Delicious!
From Lisboa, Portugal. This is unexpected – a Pinot Noir from such a warm region? It can only mean one thing - try it! "Lisboa" is one of the new buzz words in Portuguese wines – a region that comprises both an Atlantic coastline (hence a maritime and breezy climate) and dry land. And this is a wine, albeit from a foreign grape, that pays an amazing tribute to the region. A bright ruby red with a great body and full of ripe fruit on one hand and a subtle and fresh acidity on the other. Pure magic. And great company for roast game, stews and "bacalhau" (Portuguese salted cod) too.
An English sparkling wine – need we say more? From this vineyard, planted on an ex piggery (next to the Bluebell Railway and fringes of the Ashdown Forest) comes a stunning Blanc de Blancs (a French term that designates Champagne made only from Chardonnay – the white grape) which is one of England’s finest sparkling wines. With a crisp citrus palate and notes of quince, brioche and elderflower this is both a delightful and stylish alternative to Champagne, no doubt.
Have a wine question? Not sure what to order for the next office party? Why not tweet to us at @JustHospitality