How to use your wine merchant!


The most common mistake with quality wine is to leave it too long before uncorking. Your wine merchant is always delighted to advise, says Hannah Wilkins, who offers two top recommendations for this year.


To be drunk or not to be drunk? That is the question!
And no, I don’t mean you personally: I mean a bottle of good wine. When should you open it for maximum enjoyment?
Alongside my carefully curated collection, each year I put together a box of wines from the shop that I have enjoyed during the year and earmarked for Christmas consumption.

Prices in this personal selection range from £8 to £30; something for every holiday season need! People often jest how lovely it must be to have such choice at my fingertips, and of course it is. But the truth is it doesn’t make the what-to-drink decision easier. In fact, it’s possibly more difficult to pick; and that’s before you consider the expectation from guests knowing the wine in their glass has been chosen by a ‘specialist’.

I use that term in inverted commas as our daily grind at Vineyards is breaking down the stigma of wine and making it accessible to all.

Anyhow, I digress…

A common wine mistake!

Choosing wine for special occasions is tricky.

You have to decide whether you are cracking open that wine you’ve saved for a ‘rainy day,’ or whether you opt for something that you have tried recently and know you like right now.
The tragedy is that all too often people keep wines, champagnes and ports in their wine racks for far too long. I’ve done it myself with a wine I coveted from Chile: I bought a case of six bottles and kept two bottles for far too long;
they went past ‘their best’, which is such a shame. I am a firm believer that wine is made to be enjoyed —it’s what the winemaker intends. It’s just hard making that step and committing to popping the cork.

The art of wine

There is an art to producing a a great bottle wine that expresses: • Terroir (the land and climate in which it is grown)

• Profiles of each grape variety in the bottle
• The ageing processes used (oak or steel barrels?)
• Aromas connecting together in a glass

But, to me, the one thing I look for when judging a wine is its balance. When key elements are brought together, wines do get better with some ageing, that is true. Just keeping a wine for a couple of years really can change a wine’s dynamic.
But some wines are ready to be drunk right now.
This is why we try every bottle we source, and each new vintage – so we can ‘monitor’ the quality for our customers (it really is a hard life!). So this month’s recommendations are two deeply satisfying wines that we personally thoroughly enjoyed over Christmas. We can wholeheartedly say they are drinking incredibly well right now.
The best thing about both is that they each have some potential to develop further – these wines are great for those of us who want the best of both worlds. And, after two years of a pandemic, I think that’s fair enough!
A good wine merchant will be able to guide you with a new recommendation, but also advise you on the optimum time to drink the wines already in your rack.
If you need any help please just get in touch. Happy New Year!

Hannah’s recommendations:

2018 La Bri ‘Double Door’ Petit Verdot from Franschhoek, South Africa: £20.
This wine really is a stunner and is drinking well now, however I can’t wait to see how this wine develops over the next few years. At the moment, it’s silky smooth with ripe hedgerow fruit and luscious integrated vanilla notes from the ageing.

2013 Weingut Reichsrat Von Buhl Ungeheuer Riesling from Pfalz in Germany: £47.
What a wine! Where do I start? Silky, citrus, honeyed with complex hints of ginger and amazing purity.

Just delicious! A real treat – I loved it so much I have purchased another ready for next Christmas.

by Hannah Wilkins, Indie Wine Merchant


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