We didn’t really know what to expect, then our rep turned up with cases of wine for my friends and I to try. The company was Smeda Wines, a wine wholesaler from Northampton. We’d put out some cheese and biscuits and all our glasses ready and it was nice to have some recommendations of when, and which cheeses to try with various wines. We tried about 10 wines in all and received a complimentary bottle of a sparkling German red to keep.
Our favourites were:
Grove Mill Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand 2011
This was really full of fruity and complex flavours. Really well rounded with nicely balanced sweetness. Even though we’re red drinkers, we really liked it.
Chateau Bladinieres Cahors la Preference 2009
This is a 70/30 Malbec/Merlot blend (not 93/7 as our rep told us!) which is really French tasting – it’s got that smell and flavour of barrels and cellars. The Merlot comes through nicely to balance the wine, stopping the overall flavour from being too heavy.
Kuehn Gewurztraminer Alsace 2012
A beautiful, light and floral wine with fabulous hints of rose and soft lychee fruit. Really drinkable.
Spier Shiraz Western Cape
A lovely smoky full bodied red with no discernible fruit flavours. Quite a hefty 14.5%, but really worth it.
So we tried some nice new wines and were all happy. I wouldn’t, however, bother with a home wine tasting again. The Smeda website shows that the usual price without a Wowcher would be £99 – it’s definitely not worth that. The tastings poured were far too small – you were lucky to get one decent sip in a glass and there was clearly no scope to re-taste any of the more complex wines.
The rep also seemed hurried, and rarely introduced a wine with winery, varietal and vintage. She mainly just told us whether a wine was sweet or dry and gave some simple tasting notes in each case. She asked us to mark a price list with our marks out of 10, but then didn’t say which wine was which so sometimes it was hard to find them on the list.
When we didn’t want to commit to buying a case of wine at the end, she quickly packed up and left with hardly a goodbye. I know that these companies are running wine tastings to get you to purchase, but at £99 a session I think you’d be rightfully expecting a little more banter, much more coherent information about each wine, a fun experience and a no-pressure attitude to sales. I also noticed, as I was googling around for links to each of the wines, that Smeda’s website is quite light on information and the prices are significantly higher than what you can find elsewhere – so if you fancy trying any of these wines I’d recommend shopping around.
We received a home wine tasting voucher for Christmas and finally got it booked in and underway this week. I was looking forward to seeing how it compared to the wine tastings we have done at wineries and also venues like the Saatchi Gallery.