Wine is my Friday night, my night on the town and my ‘I’ve-had-a-rough-day’ sigh of relief. Chocolate works too but I always have good wine in the house. I’m a grown up now and so the Matteus Rose, whilst still a beautiful bottle, just doesn’t cut it any more.
I buy the bulk of my wine from France. It’s easy to load the car up when we are already over there and works out quite cost effective. But every now and then I ‘need’ to buy more and for this I turn to my local independent wine shop and my local Waitrose. They both have a great selection at prices I don’t mind paying.
Which wine to choose?
My problem with wine though is knowing which one to choose. I usually drink wine on it’s own. Rarely with a meal because the children’s bath, book and bedtime routine would never get done otherwise! I tend to drink red but I don’t know why. I like rose in this sunny weather but often just choose the one with the nice label which is too sweet and sickly. So my challenge is learning what to buy and there isn’t always an expert on hand.
So I was delighted when Waitrose invited me to the launch of their new dedicated online wine shop – Waitrose Cellar. The website has taken over a year to ripen. There has been much research and volumes of customer focus groups because the team behind it wanted it to feel personal and help people like me get their choices right, learn their tastes and expand into bottles that don’t just look pretty.
Learning from the Waitrose wine specialists
At the launch event I met one of Waitrose Cellar Wine Specialists. Xenia Irwin is a Master of Wine and joined the team as a buyer for Waitrose Cellar in December last year. She’s bonkers about wine and unsurprisingly has been working in the trade for over 24 years.
Xenia took us wines from the through The Spring Foodie Case – what a fantastic idea. It comes with a booklet of recipes which I hope the team will also add to the site going forwards.
I particularly liked the Catena Malbec which has been paired with Spiced Aubergine and Sweet Potato Ragout. This says a lot about my ‘taste’. I like wines which go well with spicy food. Naturally I suppose as I tend to cook a fair amount of spicy food. But that being said I also loved the Vigneti Massa Sentieri Barbera Colli Tortonesi which Xenia explained is a good ‘drinking on its own’ wine. The other wine I loved was the Dr Loosen Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett. I nearly spat it out in surprise when Xenia told me it was a Riesling. It was dry yet spicy - nothing like the sweet versions I drank as a student in Germany.
As we tasted the wines, Xenia explained their history, their origins and the kinds of food they would work well with. Jokingly I asked if I could email her and get advice on wines when choosing menus and she replied that I could. For me this is the best part about the Waitrose Cellar site. You can email an expert or better still tweet them on @WaitroseWine.
The other thing I really like about the website is that you can buy cases by grape variety. I haven’t seen this on other wine websites. It saves me reading through lots of descriptions and trying to compile a case of my own which until now consisted of Riojas and Viogniers!
At the end of the launch event there was time to practice choosing wine using the website with fellow event attendees. I don’t know who chose each of the 6 bottles I received but I think they did a pretty good job. I’ll be tweeting my thoughts on each one as I open them using #waitrosecellar.
Which wine type are you?
I’ve concluded I am a deep, dark red kind of girl with a tendency to sparkle now and then. I like to standalone most of the time and enjoy something sweet for special occasions.
How about you? Are you a Riesling fan? A deep dark red like me or a sweet and sparkling rosé?