Adopting the café culture of our continental counterparts, it seems that the wine bar has finally become one of the UK’s hottest gastronomic trends.
The pub-dominated cities of a generation ago seemed to have vanished, and now cosmopolitan discerning drinkers are seeking something a little more sophisticated than Slug & Lettuce and All Bar One. Enter the wine café.
Located beneath the Finborough theatre, Finborough Wine Café is part coffee-and-cake-café, part independent wine bar and part shop. Last Saturday I returned to the West Brompton establishment with my parents and boyfriend for tea and cake followed by a glass of delicious sparkling rosé, a cheese and cold meats platter and a fantastic wine tasting. With a selection of 30 wines (served by the glass) we were able to choose 10 to try and learn about, which we then individually scored out of 5.
The most appealing thing about Finborough Wine Café and its tastings is that it engages with every level of wine appreciator: from novice (me – my knowledge of wine stems from my childhood where I drank very good wine with my family, to Uni where I drank very bad wine with my friends, to dating my boyfriend where I drink whatever we can afford); to intermediate (my boyfriend – who worked in a boutique bistro restaurant and subsequently tasted a number of fine wines); to pro (my parents – both attended catering college, have worked in numerous restaurants and enjoyed fine wine since their teens). The extremely knowledgeable staff were attentive throughout, giving background information on the grape, grower, storage, shipping and so on… But even better than that – they don’t care if you don’t really care about any of that. They encourage you to taste ‘blindly’ and to enjoy whatever you enjoy. Instead of being a snobbish, and pretentious affair it was a relaxed and laid-back pleasure.
As you can imagine our tastes and ratings differed greatly, but we were all equally besotted with one wine in particular – an Australian Pinot Noir, which we preceded to purchase for a mere £13.95 – £1 less than its supermarket price.
The ambience, staff, wine list, value for money and atmosphere were faultless.
I cannot recommend Finborough Wine Café highly enough. For a truly ‘boutique’ wine drinking experience, head down there NOW!