Comparative tastings

For the non-professional, wine tastings are events to be look forward to. For a relatively small fee (£25 – £30), you get a chance to try a range of wines, some of which you wouldn’t normally consider buying. The organisation hosting the event gives you some indication of the types of wine they will be showing but, after that, you are left to negotiate the offerings on your own – with no particular sales pressure applied. The tastings  have a ‘club’ atmosphere, where all can exchange opinions, swap information and, maybe, place an order. And drink wine, of course.

Having recently attended two Birmingham tastings within the space of ten days (The Wine Society’s and Lay & Wheeler’s), we thought you might like to read our opinions – a sort of horizontal tastings tasting, if you get what I mean.

The WS had a broader selection, in both styles and price and, correspondingly, a greater number of attendees. So much so, they ran out of the liquid stuff! (they did partially reimburse all attendees for the inconvenience). L & W’s was a smaller affair (circa 40 people) and a more limited selection (10 Merlots and Cabernets as opposed to the WS’s 18 reds and whites). L & W’s prices ranged from £30 to £97 per bottle whilst the WS went from £7.50 to £37 pb. Two distinctly different markets were targeted and yet there were some people present at both. As L & W made clear, their wines were for the future and this was apparent in the choice of grape varieties on offer, although the presence of Merlot meant a wider drinking window was available – although some of their wines were only available to buy in 6s into bonded warehouses. The WS adopted a more consumer-friendly approach, all wines were sold duty paid and subject to the Society’s minimum order.


Obviously, why did the WS run out of wine at a ticketed function? (or are Brummies freeloaders?)

Should L & W have chosen the washrooms to taste in? Then we would have been packed even tighter.

Both L & W and WS, how can you hold tasting notes, pencil, wine and write notes whilst standing up? High tables needed.

WS, why show uninteresting wines? We know what a cheaper NZ Pinot Noir etc. etc. tastes like. Complexity a must.

L & W, why show such a tightly similar range? More breadth?

Both L & W and WS, to prevent crowding why not spread the wines i.e. L & W 2 tables, WS 2 tables for each grape selection?

We’re being picky, we know, but these questions may be asked/answered ‘in house’ AND we did have to pay for the tickets.

However, we enjoyed both evenings. To both WS and L & W, thank you for your staffs’ efforts.


1 Comment

Filed under posted by Geoff

One response to “Comparative tastings

  1. John Makin

    Chers Bloggeurs, Jack and I attended a WS tasting at Nottm recently. They were showing 20 WS Exhibition label wines. I was looking for reds to buy and was moderately impressed by the range. A Louis Jadot pinot noir was v pale and v dear, and was easily outclassed by a Craggy Range, Martinborough PN! A pleasant Fleurie and a horrible Chianti Classico. But finally we both bought the Exhib label Rioja Reserva 2006 from La Rioja Alta at £12.50 bott. Excellent nose, plenty of promise. Then their Victoria Shiraz from Mount Langi Ghiran, 2007, at £11.95 bott. Not ready yet but will put in the cellar for 5 years. So a useful exercise, and there was enough to drink!