I haven't been to a wine tasting for a very long time - in Wiltshire we used to go to our local, The Lamb On The Strand, which according to my country sources is still serving good food and great wine & beer.
During our time, the wine tastings at The Lamb were quite rowdy affairs. The old (as in previous) landlord would make the tables guess the grape, region and price of each wine. The winners won a bottle of champagne and there was a lot of good-hearted cheating. We'd end up drinking far too much, then buying cases of the stuff on some wonderful pretext like, 'It'll keep until Christmas' (in May), or 'We can have a party'. Inevitably the pricier bottles would be drunk as every day plonk at home and the next time we'd fall for the same trick again.
Earlier this week, I was invited to go to the first wine tasting event of the autumn at a pub in Hampstead, The Old White Bear. This place, en route to The Heath from the Hampstead tube station, has gone through something of a transformation in the past few years. It now serves great food and is a restaurant as well as a pub.
The wines are sampled in an upstairs room, and served by friendly, knowledgeable staff. Instead of the dinner party atmosphere of The Lamb, here the wines were placed into an orderly line. The Hampstead set nodded sagely after swilling a small amount of each wine in their mouths. There was intelligent conversation about grapes and weather conditions in the various wine growing regions. And there was fantastic tapas to go with the delicious wines.
The bottles tasted during the evening were mainly from Italy, but there were some from more unusual regions too, including Hungary and Slovenia. Both old winemaking countries, I'm sure, but rarely seen in our household. At The Old White Bear I learned something new about wine during this refined occasion. At the same time, though, I found myself missing the noisy tastings of The Lamb. Perhaps I'm a country pumpkin at heart after all?
Afterwards, still feeling a little hungry, we had a Scotch Egg and a beer in the Duke of Hamilton - a pub which we don't seem to be able to pass without going in. (More evidence of my lack of 'townieness'?)
Wine tastings at The Old White Bear are £15-00 each and include freshly prepared tapas.
You can get details of the next event by signing up for their mailing list here.
(Helena paid for her own wine tasting - this is not a sponsored post)