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good-food

In vino veritas

Anyone who reads my column knows I like wine. I also like buying wine. But I’m not talking about picking up whatever’s on offer at the local supermarket – I love going to a proper wine shop. They are like Aladdin’s caves (and cellars) full of exciting bottles with enticing labels; wines from every corner of the world (Slovenia! Georgia! Lebanon!); some for special occasions (with price tags to match) and some for everyday drinking (that come in at under a tenner).

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Now, I certainly don’t profess to be a wine expert or even a wine snob. I just really enjoy the experience. Honestly, there’s not much in retail that’s still this pleasurable and I’m saying that as the owner of a supermarket that has a thriving wine section. We simply can’t do the same job at Warner’s because wine shops deliver something you can’t get anywhere else: you get to talk to people who really know their stuff and you get to try things you would never normally try.

We have so many great local wine merchants on our doorstep that you’d be mad not to tap into their expertise and experience. The key is not being afraid to walk in and say ‘Help me! This is my budget, and this is what I like’. I guarantee you’ll come out with a corker!

Here’s where to go:

The Stroud Wine Company

Husband and wife team, Laura and Richard Holloway, opened their popular wine shop in 2017 followed by a wine warehouse in May this year. As former Oddbins employees, they wanted to create an atmosphere that was personal and welcoming but also educational, where customers could feel comfortable trying something new. They import directly from small businesses with a focus on natural, organic and sustainable wines. Regular wine tasting events take place every month and there’s a new Friday night Wine Club launching this autumn.

Summer wine recommendation: “We love Ciconia Branco from the renowned Casas Relvas winery in Portugal. It’s a delicious blend of Portuguese grape varieties with a touch of Viognier. It has expressive ripe fruits and is a very versatile wine that can stand up to strong dishes.”

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Tivoli Wine

This Cheltenham establishment is owned by David Dodd who is always happy to open up bottles for customers to try. All the staff are WSET-qualified and take time to discuss the producer and their ethos, explain the profile of lesser-known grapes or regions, and are happy to suggest potential pairings for your evening meal! There are regular tastings and events every month in the cosy Wine Library, where you can also try 32 wines by the glass, thanks to the ingenious enomatic tasting machines.

Summer wine recommendation: Portuguese whites might be the hit of the summer. My pick would be the ‘Gorro’ Loureiro, which is not your standard Vinho Verde. It’s a little riper and weightier and shows lots of red apple and stone-fruit notes.”

Broadway Wines

Run by James Kemp and Doug Brown, Broadway Wines supplies wines to customers and trade, including the Fine Wine selection at our Warner’s store in Upton-upon-Severn. James offers a friendly face to anyone looking to expand their wine repertoire. His knowledge, and the variety of wines on offer, means you can always come out with something a bit different. New tasting events are being launched this summer.

Summer wine recommendation: “Chemin de Provence Rosé is a very popular rosé that’s quite reasonably priced. Pale and dry, and not so dominant on the fruits.” (Also available at Warner’s Upton-upon-Severn)

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Beckford Bottle Shop

Established in 2015, The Beckford Bottle Shop in Bath is a contemporary wine merchant with traditional values. The whole experience is exceptional: think comfy leather Chesterfields on which you can sink into and enjoy wines by the glass (or bottle) over seasonal small bites from the Bistro. Regular wine events and supper clubs are run by the knowledgeable and friendly team.

Summer wine recommendation: Gavi Di Gavi, Folli & Benato – quite rich in texture with plenty of juicy peach and pear fruit alongside stony minerality. Perfect summer drinking or for when you want to be reminded of summer!”