The other day I spent a very enjoyable few hours at my new favourite place, The Sampler in Angel. If you haven’t heard of it I shall explain. It’s an independent wine merchant where you can actually try before you buy. They’re able to do this because they have lots of enomatic machines which means they can keep wines fresh and yummy. To try the wines, you need to get an oyster-like card from the till and top it up (with no £3 deposit!). I suggest a tenner for a good amount of tasting. Then, you survey the wines and pick which you want to try, insert your card, choose how big a serving you want (from as little as 30p) and away you go. For a wine geek like me this place is pure heaven.
I imagine that for a non wine geek it may seem pretty daunting to wander in a pretend like you know what you’re doing, but trust me when I say the people there are not remotely scary or patronising and are more than willing to help. The best thing about it is that if you know nothing about wine you can try loads of stuff and find interesting things that you like that are a bit more exiting than the usual Pinot Grigio or Merlot. Ok, the prices may seem like a big jump from supermarkets but truthfully the wines are far superior, or you can find equivalents in your local for slightly cheaper.
Going on from my theme of last, I had a delightful Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley in Australia (Innocent Bystander 2010) and it was delicious, pineapple and vanilla yumminess. I also had a wine that was Bonfire Night opitimised in a glass, toffee apples and sweet spices. Anne Boecklin Pinot Gris 2005. Yummy!
I’m a huge Shiraz fan and the winner for me (in terms of value too) was the Rogue Wines Shiraz 2009. Great fruit, eucalyptus, white pepper and surprising length. Only 57p for a sample, I will admit that I had more than one sample. And a bottle, it was only £12.
To conclude, GO THERE. And expand your wine horizons.