Posted by: jmbwineblog | November 2, 2010

The Art of Fine Wine Dining…

Champagne Lunch at the Ledbury.

As someone who has to taste a lot of wines on a constant basis, whether they be samples, things that I myself own, or at tastings be they trade or just for fun amongst like-minded people or friends. But the biggest bane for me is the demise of fine wine dining in general.

Of course, there are many wine lovers who are fighting back and attempting to react amongst the demise of the hearty meal with wine, and in particular the leisurely and necessary lunch. The biggest space in the UK, although there are many all across the globe who strive for more dinners and lunches, is the forum community of Tom Cannavan’s website (Wine-Pages). The monthly lunch at the Ledbury called WIMPS lunches are probably the most enjoyable, increasingly the most popular and ever more extravagant (although many of the donators paid nowhere near as much as the current value for the wines being drunk).

It may seem like a stuffy place to enjoy wine, amongst 40 odd wine buffs over 2 Michelin starred food, but it is anything but… My first foray into this world was certainly daunting as I knew nobody, but I was welcomed like a duck to water, and from then on there was no turning back, and now I have made many friends and have been to hundreds of tastings that I would never have thought existed whether they were in the evening or at lunch. My first event involved a vertical of Chateau Rayas on our table, and it was a baptism of fire with some fantastic wines on show. My last few forays have involved mature Northern Rhones, Drinking Bordeaux, Champagne of the highest quality including a 1966 Bollinger!! And a wonderful Burgundy tasting, and these events have allowed me to taste a great number of wines that I can’t afford, or wouldn’t be able to obtain samples of. However, this is besides the point, and you are probably thinking look at this guy trying to show off all the wine he drinks, and rightly so, as I have tried some fantastic fine wines, and more on my greatest wines in another topic.

28-50 Fine Rhones Dinner

So Why Bang On?

Well for a start there is a lack of social engagement face to face in our increasingly digital world. Yes, we like to be able to get things done quickly, but will people understand how to interact face to face, and what will happen to the good old business meeting or meal, where deals and systems can be discussed and put into place on a more jovial setting. One can get to know people in a way that forum conversations would never be able to create, meeting them in person, you can talk in a relaxed manner without the tensions of debate, and discuss topics other than those at are the topic of your original meeting.

But at the end of the day, could the demise of proper, jovial, social meals based around wine lead to burnout? The Europeans have long lunch breaks and they go and eat… they seem altogether more relaxed and happier in their lifestyles. We used to have lunches, and I think people were better off for it. Many young people now simply burnout, the banks and financial services should allow their employees more time to recover.

Now longer holiday times, might not be a viable option, but perhaps a Friday afternoon off to spend a leisurely lunch with a bottle of wine might help. Of course, in many industries there are time constraints and deadlines, and you could say that I’m lucky that I’m in the booze business, that this simply isn’t going to work. However, I feel that much like the ‘slowfood’ movement that has brought the benefits of healthy eating, perhaps a ‘slowlunch’ movement, 😉 could show the benefits of not eating your ‘slowfood’ too quickly because you have to be back in the office, TOKYO might be calling, or NEW YORK… let them leave a message, it’ll only be an extra five minutes to get the desert in…

Bordeaux 1995 at Toulouse Lautrec.

A Lunch of the Vinious Variety at Christmas 2009... Ledbury style.

Private Room Dinner at the Square.

So take an extra hour, and get a good lunch in, it’ll do you good.


Until next time…


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