Discover the world of wine – tasting, history and techniques – at Vinopolis
London is the city where you can literally do most things. Now, of course there aren’t any vineyards with rolling hills around, but those wanting to taste and discover the world of wine then look no further than Vinopolis on the south bank of Thames.
After years of having it on my wishlist and walking past it countless times, I finally paid a visit to Vinopolis this month with a cousin visiting from Scotland. Arriving for a lunchtime slot, we were able to put our coats and bags away in the free cloakroom so your hands were available for holding wine glasses. We had booked the Essential Wine Experience, which comes with 7 tokens worth of tastings for £27. The price goes up the more tokens you get, depending on whether you’ve got a taste for more expensive wines or a larger quantity of wine! The tickets are scheduled in time slots because you are given a short tour and introduction to wine before you begin your self-guided tasting experience.
Before we were able to sample the drinks, we were given a 15 minute ‘How to Taste’ lesson, where you learn how to sniff, swirl and slurp with a glass of white wine. We were given great advice, such as what types of wines can keep for long or what to drink sooner and how to tell if a wine has passed its prime. There was a little bit of science involved as we learned what parts of different wines tasted like on different parts of the tongue. Following the talk, we headed into the main Vinopolis experience – a series of Victorian railway arches featuring eight tasting and educational zones. In the middle was a Tapas Bar serving food, should you need something to soak up the alcohol or accompany your drinks. Our informative guide showed us how the tasting experience worked, giving a demonstration on how to use the very easy card method to obtain the measures before we were free to start our taste experience.
The wines had been grouped into different types of zones and flavours, such as the white wine or champagne zone. You keep hold of the same glass, with water filters and sinks dotted around to rinse your glass in-between samples and refresh your palate. Although I’m a big fan of Sauvignon Blanc and bubbly, I went off my usual tastes and used the experience to sample other wines. Vinopolis guides are also on hand should you have any questions, with one able to recommend a type of red to me (someone who doesn’t normally drink it…) and I actually liked it. The various wine samples start from 1 token upwards, reflecting the quality and market value. I tried a variety, including Canard-Duchene Cuvee Leonie Brut champagne (2 tokens), Hugels Et Fils Pinot Noir (1 token) and Jean Luc Colombo Le Vent (1 token), among others. As well as handy fact boxes dotted around the experience to expand your knowledge, there were also interactive tables to help you find the right wine for you.
As well as the main wine tasting experience, Vinopolis also holds various events and drinking experiences throughout the year, including cocktail masterclasses, so there’s a lot more than just wine. There is also a spirits area where you can try Absinthe if you’re up to it! I think Vinopolis would make a great daytime activity for a hen or stag party. Overall, we had a great couple of hours in Vinopolis. There’s not many social events where you can combine drinking and learning! Admittedly, my cousin and I did end up a bit tipsy as we left, but felt much more knowledgeable when it comes to making our wine selections at a restaurant in future.
- Vinopolis, 1 Bank End, Southwark, SE1 9BU. Nearest tube/overland: London Bridge. Opening times: Wed: 6-9.30pm, Thurs and Fri: 2-10pm, Sat: 12-9.30m, Sunday: 12-6pm. Vinopolis is closing permanently on 31 December 2015, so pay a visit before then. For more information, visit the Vinopolis website.
Why not pay a visit to Vinopolis after lining your stomach with food from Borough Market. Click here for Metro Girl’s blog on the market.