If you are looking for a fun and simple way to get out of your wine comfort zone then let me recommend Humble Grape. With various locations around London, I stopped into my local one in Battersea for a casual dinner and discovered ‘Tasting Tuesdays’ where, for only £15, one can try four wines selected from the bottle-lined walls of the restaurant.
Not only does the line-up change weekly, but they also have a different theme at each venue. I had the opportunity to compare two Rieslings, one from Alsace and one from Austria, followed by two Pinot Noirs from Germany and South Africa.
These wines are often unavailable elsewhere as Humble Grape supports small and sustainable winemakers, importing direct from independent producers meaning their wines are mainly exclusive.
Comparing two wines directly is the best way to expand your palate and get to know your own personal preferences, and it is even more enjoyable to do this over dinner.
I also indulged in a large selection of small plates, with the standout dishes being a pretty grilled octopus with flower petals and a plump burrata made even more creamy and wintery by a succulent mushroom sauce.
But the crispy cauliflower turned out to be my pick of the bunch, surprisingly flavoursome and moreish. We needed no excuse to linger, so selected another bottle from the well-lined walls. Handily, each bottle bears a label showing the price to take away as well as drink in, so make this your local wine shop as well as a welcoming place for a bite or two as you mull over your wine comparisons. Find out more at the Humble Grape website here.
Wines of the week
Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvée Rosé NV, £35, Majestic
Something to raise the spirits in gloomy January and you can stick to your Veganuary resolution as this wine is also vegan. Layers of strawberry cheesecake and delightful bubbles from this excellent English producer.
Ceretto Moscato d’Asti DOCG, £18, Harvey Nichols
Delightful in every sense. Cascades of orange blossom and jasmine on the nose and it tastes like a slice of sugared grapefruit, sweet lime and ripe melon. At 5.5% pair it with fresh pastries and fruit salad for a perfect Veganuary breakfast in bed.
Tesco Finest 1531 Banquette De Limoux , £9.50, Tesco
Commended by the IWSC 2021 Awards this charming, vegan sparkling wine has notes of melting peach, bright green apple and delicate pastry. An absolute steal to pair with seafood or enjoy as an aperitif.
Hattingley Still Pinot Noir 2020, £25, Hattingley.com
A beautiful label for a beautiful wine. Prolific winemaker Emma Rice has turned her hand to still wines and this delicious, silky Pinot Noir is ripe-fruited, light and elegant. An English red which is bound to please everyone.
Roebuck Rosé de Noirs 2016, £41.80, Hedonsim
The very first vintage of this spectacular English Pinot Noir sparkling. A beautiful golden rose colour, this wine has poise, precision, and an elegant complexity. Look ahead to Valentine’s Day and get the romance started with this delicious bottle.