Event Review: Three Wine Men

Touring the UK through the latter half of 2013, the Three Wine Men found their way to Manchester’s Museum of Science industry on the weekend of 8/9 June 2013. For those unfamiliar with the wine men, they are Olly Smith, Oz Clarke and Tim Adkin; respected UK wine writers and broadcasters.

The event takes the form a tasting, with optional master-classes, and a few other complimentary exhibitors. In all, there were 27 tables, largely devoted to wine. Most regions were represented, along with wine makers, specialist retailers and supermarkets. Attendees also included glass maker, Riedel, and some fine food retailers, plus WSET and the Wine Society.

The format is pretty simple: show up, sign in, get your glass and start tasting. The only words of advice from the guy giving out the Riedel glasses (that we got to keep) were ‘make sure you try something new’. Given the number and variety of wines on display, that was never going to be a challenge. Once inside, guests were free to wander between the tables, sampling the wines on offer and asking any questions, while the wine men made the occasional appearance. You are issued with a booklet that tells you which exhibitor is at which table and the list of wines they are sampling, so you can keep track of the ones you’ve tried. Each table offers water and crackers so you can cleanse your palette and freshen your glass between tastings.

The event is marketed at all wine enthusiasts, from the expert through to the occasional tippler. While this was probably a fair representation of the attendees, for wine-newbies, the whole experience could be a little overwhelming and frustrating. Therefore, it was useful to discover, late in the day, unfortunately, that WSET had a little mini session that offered an introduction to how different foods affect the taste of wine.

For newcomers, the event does offer the chance to sample things that you may never have heard of, or would never think to buy. There are a few ice wines, for example, a marmalade-tinged Hungarian dessert wine, chocolate wine (get in early for that one!) and even a Venezuelan rum manages to sneak its way in.

While it would be impossible to list every wine, and would spoil the surprise to do so, here is a quick list of highlights:

Robert Mondavi Winery, Ravenswood, Clos du Bois, Inniskillin:
Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine, Niagra, 2006 – a ‘wow’ of an ice wine!

Mud House:
Unoaked Marlborough Chardonnay 2012 and ‘Hungry Hill’ Estate Chardonnay 2011, New Zealand – a good example of how events like this can educate as the expert helpfully explained the differences between unoaked and oaked wine

Morrisons:
Wydnham Bin 555 Sparkling Shiraz and St Stephans Crown Tokaji 5 Puttonyos, Hungary, 2005 – exciting and different tipples from the supermarket chain; a fizzy red and a marmalade-flavoured dessert wine

Corks Out Wine & Spirit Specialist:
Neige Apple Ice Wine, NV, Canada, Dessert and Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum, NV, Venezuela – an apple-flavoured dessert wine and a fine rum; more examples of the different things on offer at wine tasting events

The Wine Society:
Zarcillo Gewurztraminer Bio-Bio 2012, Chile – a nice Chilean white with hints of rose and lychee

Majestic Wines:
Mister Shiraz 2011, Chile – a personal favourite!

Hard to Find Wines:
De Leuwen Jagt Red Muscadel, South Africa, Dessert – a beautiful cinnamon and raisin-flavoured dessert wine; perfect for Christmas celebrations

Of course, this barely scratches the surface of what’s available to sample and buy. For example, there are tables devoted to Portugal, Spain and California wines, fine Spanish ceramics, a smokehouse, olive oil (try the maple-flavoured) and pies from Pieminister! Phew.

Overall, this is an impressive event that gives all wine lovers, from the casual to the serious, a great opportunity to sample and purchase (often for less than £10) a vast array of wines from most regions. It is a great learning experience and offers the chance to talk about wine with the expert representatives at each table. If you’re completely new to wine, it may be worth doing a little research beforehand, but the event certainly stimulates interest in the grape and shows the rewards of diving in and trying something new. It also highlights what is available from the main retailers and supermarkets.

If you’d like to attend one of the forthcoming events, check out the Three Wine Men touring schedule.