On & Around the Street

NEED-TO-KNOW WINE INTEL FROM PAVILION WINE

Oenophiles rejoice! This week marks the return of London Wine Week to the capital, with wine flights, pop-up bars, bespoke menus and lots of other events on throughout the week.

To celebrate, we paid a visit to our resident wine guru, Tomasz Kuszner, manager at Pavilion Wine.

Poland-born Tomasz has been a London resident since 2001, when he arrived in the capital and landed a job at Vinopolis and swiftly developed a fascination with wine that became a passion and then a calling. Specialist courses and books fuelled his knowledge and saw him rise to the role of sommelier at Coq d’Argent on Poultry in The City and then at Plateau in Canary Wharf.

Last year, he opened Pavilion Wine, bringing his wealth of knowledge and boundless enthusiasm to London’s newest fine food destination. Here’s what he had to say about prevailing wine misconceptions the biggest trends in wine this summer…

Pavilion Wines

The best part of my job is that I do what I love – wine. The other great thing is that I get to meet people; not only wine makers but my customers. More and more of my regular customers are coming in to have a glass of wine with me in the store. Fridays and Saturdays are always busy.

What’s so great about Pavilion Wine is that we are not even trying to be a destination for people, we are very much a local spot for wine, and all of my customers are locals, with the occasional hotel guest. Now, on Saturdays, there is a group of around 30 people that come every weekend to drink wine. They even have their own ‘Wine Fever Gang’ group on WhatsApp. There’s even been some people start dating from the group… It’s nice to get to know people.

Pavilion Wines

WINE MYTHS DEMYSTIFIED

The biggest misconception about wine is that you should drink red wine with cheese. You should really be drinking a white wine or even a sweet wine. They have proven scientifically that the tannins in red wine have a chemical reaction in the mouth when it comes into contact with the proteins in cheese or white fish that results in a metallic taste. That said, if it’s a strong cheddar, you can have it with a glass of red wine.

Another misconception is that Riesling is sweet. People imagine it is like the German Riesling Liebfraumilch, the very sweet wine that was popular about 20 years ago. But it’s probably one of the most versatile grapes; you can make a bone dry white or an off-dry or a medium sweet to super-luscious sweet wine.

People still think that a screw cap on a bottle of wine means that it’s a cheap or bad bottle of wine. It’s not true. Screw caps are a bit more hermetic than natural cork. There are always still some microscopic holes in the cork that allow oxygen to get through [to the wine] so the wine under the cork goes through a slow ageing, or oxidative, process. Wines under cork evolve, while wines with a screw cap will more or less stay the same for years.

Most of the time, especially in whites from Burgundy or reds from Bordeaux, wines are made for the aging process, so in the time they are in the bottle, they will develop secondary aromas like truffle, tobacco or leather, that we don’t see in young, fresh wines, while wines under a screw cap are how the winemaker intended you to drink it – whether you drink it today, in six months or a year, it will taste the same.

Pavilion Wines

TRENDS

Chardonnay is making a comeback. People used to say, “I’ll drink anything but chardonnay”, now a lot more people are asking for it. What put people off five to seven years ago, was those big, creamy, buttery, fat American and Australian Chardonnays. Nowadays, in California for example, there is a new wave of new, young winemakers who are making Chardonnay in the French style: very light and delicate. Chile is also doing a lighter style of Chardonnay.

And people are being educated by sommeliers and wine merchants. They’re learning, for example, that Chablis and Chardonnay are made from the same grapes, they’re just different styles.

People are looking to discover wines from emerging regions like Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary. They want to discover something new and these countries, most of the time, they are still small producers, still family-run businesses.

Italian Regions other than Tuscany and Piedmont are also becoming popular. There’s something like 2,000 native indigenous grape varieties in Italy and some Italian producers are discovering them and starting to make wines with them. Sometimes it might be just a family vineyard that has never made wine commercially, they might discover they have an old vineyard with some crazy grapes and think, “why don’t I make a wine [to sell]?”

Sicily, especially wine from near Etna, has wines that come from volcanic soil giving all this minerality. But the middle and southern part of Italy isn’t very well known for its wines, but now those regions are becoming more popular outside of Italy.

There is also a higher demand for organic and biodynamic wines. The general theory is that if lots of chemicals go into the soil, those chemicals will be absorbed by the vines and pass to the grapes ad end up in a bottle of wine. Less human intervention is better.

Pavilion Wine is open 12.00 to 21.00 everyday. For more information about upcoming tastings, visit www.pavilionwine.co.uk

Pavilion Wines

Images via instagram.com/pavilionwine and twitter.com/ldncheesemonger