My interest in wine, I suppose started when I went to University at Warwick in the early 70s. Along with a friend we cooked regularly, as it was cheaper and better value than cafeteria meals. At this time wine availability to the masses consisted of Hirondelle, Don Cortez, Blue Nun and Mateus Rose, and we noticed that if we spent an extra couple of pence in those days on a bottle, then no hangovers ensued. Wines that we started with really reflected a student menu and were usually red, Chianti, Valpolicella and the esoteric Banda Azul Rioja sourced from either Augustus Barnett or Peter Dominic.
For the last 17 years I have run wine-tasting evenings initially for local charities and good causes and now as Corporate Entertainment events. These are really aimed at novices with a three-fold objective. Firstly, to try and break down the mystique and snobbery associated with wine drinking. Wine and food together should be a pleasurable experience and I look to enhance this experience through tasting and links to specific foods and the seasons.
Secondly, I view the evening as an education session. If at the end of the evening, one guest is convinced that Argentinian Torrontes is a good match for her summer garden parties, or vinaigrette-based sauces are not a good partner to expensive Burgundies, then I’ve achieved something. Finally, but most importantly, the experience must be fun, and from the feedback I have had, there is no problem on that score. I now regularly run wine and food matching sessions at Lesley Waters’ Cookery School, where I have been the wine consultant since its inception
Purchasing wines from supermarkets, reputable merchants and auctions, my Presbyterian upbringing (agnostic since birth!) ensures that I never miss a bargain.