Billie Visits: Berry Bros and Rudd
"Never waste a good wine on a bad mood."
Buying a special bottle of wine and decided to stop in to Berry Bros for some advice. This was my first time in this beautiful, historic shop, that I pass on more than a twice weekly basis and always promise myself I must pop in to. It’s one of those quintessentially British shops – what can be more British than over priced alcohol and pretence (joke!). This place was founded in 1698! To think of all the people who have walked the same steps I did: King George, Lord Byron, and of course the most regal of them all – me!
I really appreciate that feeling of continuity. There’s something very reassuring about brands and places that have stood the test of time. Berry brothers has over 4000 wines for sale – meaning you could have a different wine every day for a decade and still not finish them all. Anyway this is starting to sound like I’m becoming a Berry Brothers official spokesman, but I’d really recommend stopping by. Despite having been to some incredible places, I often get a feeling of apprehension before entering new places. I think they call it “imposter syndrome”. That feeling that maybe you don’t belong there and everyone will laugh at you. Silly I know! I needn’t have worried, they showed me great hospitality and invited me to their fine wine room (locked with fingerprint entry) to show me the fine selection. Wow! Still at the stage where I’d have to remortgage my flat or sell a kidney to afford some of these, but I can only dream to one day be able to crack open some of the truly special vintages.
My wine story is a short and sweet one. I didn’t touch alcohol until 23 years old. I’m not sure why, it just never interested me, but rest assured I’ve been making up for lost time! The first wine I ever loved was a Riesling that I had at the restaurant Pied a Terre. I was amazed! Slightly sweet and with that typical petrol Riesling taste. Since then I’ve branched out in every direction and could name a wine I like from most countries. I don’t know that I have the most sophisticated palate yet, I think that comes with time and experience, but I also really enjoy Rioja, Malbec, Gavi, Sauvignon Blanc (£10.99 New Zealand Villa Maria with the screw top is my go to “fridge door wine”!). I’m starting to enjoy the bigger and more prestigious wines (hilariously autocorrect just tried to change “prestigious” into “pretentious”! Admittedly it’s a fine line…). Currently a truly epic old bottle of red is wasted on me, as I’m just not there yet with my palate, but some of my favourite dates have been wine tastings where I can try a little of everything, including some delicious reds. A good sommelier is such a skilled person. I have a massive crush on one of the Berry Brothers Masters of Wine (any man with “Master” in his official job title becomes immediately sexy to me haha!) I love how they can say such precise things like “this wine tastes of burnt beetroot, cut grass and liquorice” and that feeling of wonder and ecstasy when you realise YES! That’s EXACTLY what it tastes like!
I would love to visit the great regions and spend weeks doing wine tours (“wine tour” = posh term for a piss up in France – not that I’m complaining!). I was recently introduced to Sauternes Chateau d’Yquem, the Rolls Royce of Sauternes… yum! I absolutely love cheese and it goes so nicely paired with a pungent blue cheese and nothing else. So delicious, tastes heavenly! Apparently with this Sauternes they do not simply pick the bunches of grapes, they go around the whole vineyard individually picking only the best and most ready single grapes to use. Only the French (and possibly the Japanese) are capable of something so painstakingly refined. Amazing to think that to make my glass, every single grape was specifically chosen to be there. Another dessert wine I really enjoy was introduced to me by a gentleman who lives in Hungary. Tokaj, a Hungarian dessert wine, which is a little more malty depending on which one you get, and is a delight paired with dark chocolate. I’ve also enjoyed British sparkling wine (after we leave the EU we better get used to it haha, say hello to a constant diet of gin and potatoes!) and find English sparkling it to be delicious, but… not quite champagne! One of my guilty indulgences (not to be consumed more than once a month) is good champagne with bad food. I first discovered this combination in a restaurant where a sommelier recommended we try champagne and fried chicken(!) The immediate reaction is… absolutely not! But the combination of a crisp, dry, ice cold champagne, with salty fatty food is soooo good! Open a bottle with your Friday night takeaway and you will be amazed, and the whole meal immediately has a decadent modern day Henry VIII type feel to it! I know what you’re thinking. KFC and Krug? Really Billie!?!?! Yes really. Let’s do it!
You bring the wine I’ll bring something to nibble on 😉 See you soon!