The Life of an MW Student –  Fourteen

Under normal circumstances I, like many others in the wine business, attend at least one trade tasting per month. These events may be small, focused on a single agency, region or wine style. They can also be enormous, with thousands of people and even more wines. If time (and covid!) weren’t an object, you could be at one of these events every day of the week, so vibrant is the London wine scene.

A good trade tasting is exciting. It’s fun!

I dress in something smart – after all, the great and the good of the industry will be there. Never high heels (there’s a LOT of walking involved), and never anything white, lest a stray spray of red wine ruin my outfit. Always layers, because in my experience tasting rooms are always either too hot or too cold.

On the journey in I study the list of exhibitors or wines and plan a route through the tasting room. This is essential at events with far more wines than anybody could possibly hope to taste in a day. I’ll read up on anybody I haven’t heard of, highlighting and circling where appropriate.

There are three benefits to attending trade tastings. The first, and most important, is from a professional perspective. Trade tastings are a brilliant way to find new wines for your list. At The Oxford Wine Company, we frequently have people out at tastings – both in the UK and abroad. The person in question will taste hundreds of wines, selecting the most interesting to be sent as samples for the whole team to try back at our offices in Standlake.

The second benefit is from a study perspective. For this, country or regionally themed tastings are best. There’s nothing like spending an afternoon tasting nothing but New Zealand Pinot Noir, for example, to really learn the intricacies and specifics of the style. What’s more, trade tastings in London often attract winemakers. Tasting through a range of wines with the person who made them is absolute magic, and what’s more an absolute goldmine of information.

And finally, there’s tasting for pure pleasure. I know I can be a bit of a bore about wine, but I truly believe that fine wine is as much an art as painting or poetry. The feeling of being in a room full of likeminded people, getting excited about something you’re passionate about, is truly exhilarating.

After almost two years of virtual events, I am hoping to spending more time at tastings in 2022. Yes, you can still taste plenty of wine at home. Yes, zoom is amazing and we are privileged to be able to video chat with people on the other side of the world. But nothing quite replaces the giddy, inspired feeling of travelling home on the train after a day spent indulging your passion, meeting brilliant people and of course tasting some seriously special wines.