Tesco Wine Fair - Quite Jazzy

Tesco Wine Fair - Quite Jazzy

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As I strolled up to the Tesco wine fair entrance in my favourite pair of trainers and a pair of headphones dangling round my neck I was immediately approached by one of the staff. “Do you have a ticket?” - Did he not mean, “Can I see your ticket?!”...

Obviously I was not judged to be the type to spend my Sunday afternoon discussing terroir (N.B. I bloody love a good terroir chinwag).

Were those first moments to be a telling introduction into the world of wine? Was this a show for those bringing their cheque books? I don't even have a cheque book...

With stalls filling the entirety of Brunel’s shed, there was plenty of variation to keep us busy. From low alcohol wines, to champagne, from Italy to Australia and everywhere inbetween. Strategy then was important and we chose to refresh our paletes with sparkling wine at frequent intervals. I stuck mostly to reds and in particular my quest for a Pinot Noir.

For the novice wine fan, it is incredibly hard to judge one wine against another without sadly,  relying on price. The supermarket stance of picking a bottle that’s half price is a terrible habit and with prices here available but hidden away it was refreshing to just pick what you liked. Giving feedback to the those serving it willingly was harder.

This, ‘wine smalltalk’ was not my forte. Smalltalk with complete strangers, even those with the intention of selling is still not on my list of Linkedin endorsements. Needless to say, I don’t think you’ll find my overarching description of “quite jazzy” adorning a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape anytime soon. Thus, after staring intently at my glass for a few seconds, attempting to identify the flavours within, failing, then relying on my wine app. It was time to go off piste.

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Testing the phrase ‘the customer is always right’ to its absolute limits, I began to assemble my own tasting notes based on emotion... Please feel free to utilise at future dinner parties...

It’s like if you came home and found Dane Bowers repairing your fence, but he’d actually be having quite a good crack at it

When you make a sand castle, and you lift the bucket away and there’s a little corner that crumbles away. Imperfect, but from the right perspective still an absolute delight

Like licking a self adhesive stamp by accident. A familiar experience, but ultimately one that is surplus to requirement

Like stealing candy, not from a baby, but a child - just old enough to understand the concept of theft: and getting away with it

As we wandered round there was a language that I did understand; branding. Creating and selling a lifestyle. Lest these manufacturers forget, ours by and large is a generation with the acute ability to deconstruct a brand within a mere glance. There was the ‘Pizza Express’ school of branding, reassuring rustic, traditional yet instantly forgettable. A few others went for the ‘FatFace approach’ - distressed typeface, a hint of a nautical theme and aspirations of sipping a Sauvignon Blanc by the beach.

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Cardboard cutouts and props however, were coupled with a mixed bag of both knowledge and enthusiasm from those manning the stands. The real winners were those who genuinely cared about their product rather than their marketing efforts.

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I don’t usually find myself succumbing to TV crushes, but in the past few months I have started to find myself getting all admiringly misty-eyed over a certain couple on a popular TV show, and no it’s not one of those scandalous lords and ladies from Downton Abbey, or Nick and Karen from The Apprentice; it’s Stephanie and Dominic from Gogglebox. There they are, every episode on their nice comfy sofa, surrounded by shelves of cocktail-making paraphernalia, sipping a robust Bordeaux from one hand, and a punchy Negroni from the other. They hold hands, laugh, make innuendos and put their little Dachshund in the wine bucket; just generally have a jolly good time.

It’s made me realise, as I glance at my meagre half-drunk corner shop spirit collection coming into the sunset of my twenties, that this is what I want from being a grown up. With this idealised picture of adulthood in mind, I headed to the Tesco Wine Fair, keen to learn more about the differences between a Shiraz and a Syrah, and how to talk about a wine convincingly enough to tip the balance to ‘connoisseur’.

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There was tons of wine on offer; over 40 exhibitors, each with several bottles of wine they were willing to pour generous tasters from. They also had a plate of crackers at every stall, but no cheese. Not even butter. I get that it’s supposed to help cleanse your palate between sips of the lovely wine, but perhaps Tesco could have laid on some own brand cream cheese or something just to make things a bit more interesting? (Some veterans knew the score and had brought their own hampers).

Back to the wine. As well as the familiar names of Blossom Hill, Jacob’s Creek, Kumala, Hardy’s and Ernest & Gallo etc, there were also a wide variety of more exclusive suppliers from across the world, with very few bottles exceeding £10, making this event reassuringly affordable. There was however a bit of pot luck when it came to the knowledge levels of the people at the stalls, as some suppliers had clearly sent out their best sales folk to regale you with tales of how lovingly the grapes are picked, crushed and bottled, whereas other companies had just got people to volunteer for the day, and so their knowledge was fairly limited, with some not even being sure of where the wine was from.

Overall, it was a great day out, and whether you’re picking some good value wines for a wedding, stocking up your wine cellar, expanding your knowledge or just going for a fun day out with friends, I’d say that you can’t go far wrong with getting a ticket to the Tesco Wine Fair – it’s fun, unpretentious and if ticket prices stay the same next year, quite the bargain too. Just make sure you bring a packed lunch.

Editor: Tickets for this event were provided by Tesco Wines

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