JWL Issue #050: How to do a trade tasting (and survive)

April 30, 2019

Over the last few weeks, the first of the young English 2018 still wines have started to hit the market. Anything that requires ageing – here’s looking at you still pinots and chardonnays – won’t get a release till later this year.

Blackbook Winery - who I interviewed in the last part of my podcast series celebrated their spring release by opening the doors to the public on Saturday.

Blackbook’s Tamesis is made from bacchus grown at Forty Hall Vineyard in Enfield, London. That makes it the first wine in over a century that has been grown and produced inside the capital. I’m holding off on tasting notes as Sergio for a few weeks, but my small taste on Saturday was very good. It’s the first English bacchus I’ve had that’s not just smack-you-in-the-face elderflower (thank God!).

Sergio runs Blackbook with his wife Lynsey, and if you follow them on Instagram, they never seem to stop. If you haven’t visited an urban winery and live in London, do check them out.

Last week marked the end of my affordable roundups from year one of Josh’s Wine List. You can revisit/bookmark the wines under £10, wines under £15 and wines under £20 for later days. I’ve had lots of great feedback for this roundup: so thank you very much. Have you bought anything from the list and tried it yet?

Next week is the year anniversary of the weekly email. I cannot believe how quickly this has flown. I’m going to try to line up something a little celebratory for that then.

A reader emailed asking how to get the most out of wine festivals where there were will be hundreds of wines to try. I take a stab at answering this in this week’s Learn.


The Hermit Crab (£12.95 - ND John) is a Marsanne-Viognier blend. These two typically-Rhône grapes suit this Australia site incredibly well. Luscious white flowers, soft stone fruits, and subtle vanilla-y oakiness bring this wine together.

I’ve written about Bourgogne Aligoté before. Tesco have one on offer currently for £7.50. This is a really good, affordable display of aligoté. We drank this in Scotland in the sun, and its aromatic, saline, zappy finish went down an absolute treat. 

A full roundup will be coming soon from their recent Spring tasting.


Making the most from tasting hundreds of wines 

The thought of tasting hundreds of wines can be both intimidating and exhilarating. Without being specific to a particular event, here are my tips for getting the most from tasting dozens or hundreds of wines. 

  • Spit - at first. You can come back to drink at the end but if you’ve got a huge wine list, start by spitting 
  • Nibble on breadsticks, crackers. Bread is a neutral flavour and cleans the palate. You’ll be amazed how much it can add 
  • Drink plenty of water 
  • Write short, first impressions of everything. Often this could just be “lemons - nice” or “musky red fruit” Put stars or ticks or something against the wines that you really like on first impression 
  • If there are winemakers there with the wines, ask how they made them and for their story - they won’t assume knowledge 
  • Once you’ve finished all your tastings, work your way back to your starred list and go and make some detailed notes (and now begin to drink them, not spit!) 
  • Finally, finish the day with a cold pint of beer. Nothing beats beer after a day of wine tasting
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