Powered by Blogger.

Friend: Mum and daughter red wine drinking at Vinopolis

So as I am desperately still clinging to it being Christmas goddamit, I am going to file this under gift ideas, even though regrettably I know most Christmas gifts will already have been given by now. But you know, just in case there is someone out there somewhere who is having a belated Christmas celebration, or indeed you have someone in your life with one of those pesky January birthdays so you have to rack your brain for presents twice in one month. Or indeed your family are still in town, then this could be a thought if you need something to do with your days which isn't playing charades and eating stilton (though why anyone would want to stop doing that I don't know).

If you know me or have read Loner. Lover. Friend before, you'll know I am a big fan of the experience present - taking someone somewhere wonderful, giving them a nice memory to keep, rather than a gift.

Normally, I am quite good at thinking of things people will enjoy, if I do say so myself, (very hard for me not to break into Jay Z Drunk in Love rapping here FYI) but when it came to my Mum's birthday at the end of September I had a little trouble.

Previously I've taken my mum to Afternoon teas, and silent cinemas and had some good, albeit generic, ideas. But I was all out, and although I can think of loads of weird and wonderful things a lot of people in my life might like I realised I didn't for my mum. My lovely mum. What did my mum like doing? It sounds really awful, but I was a bit stuck. I think my mum, as a mother, has spent so much of my life doing what the rest of the family wants to do that I have no idea what she likes doing? How terrible of me. How tricky to buy her a nice experience gift.

And then I suddenly thought, I know what my mum really loves, a full bodied French merlot. Or indeed any red wine really.

Hello Vinopolis London. Vinopolis is a "wine tasting" experience, where you can wander around and take your pick from trying over 100 different wines, including champagnes and then some spirits.

Strolling around under the arches (it's built beneath the trains), it sort of feels like a weird wine theme park. Or at least a fairground. You get a card topped up with the tokens you've bought, and you mooch around with your special tasting glass, choosing wines kept at their correct temperature in a fabulous wine tasting vending machine, paying for it on your card. How good it would be if they had one of them next to the coca cola one in my office.

Depending on the rareity and retail price of the wine, depends on how many tokens you can use, but most of them just take 1 or 2. Mum and I mainly tried the 1 token wines, but we saved them up and tried a 6 token wine at the end, so that was nice, and exciting to lift a £50+ wine to my lips.

Now I am not gonna lie, I wouldn't say I came out of Vinopolis a wine expert, but you do a little bit of learning about how to taste a wine, I got a bit more of an understanding about how different wines grow in different climates (like I've never thought about it before but there is a northern strip x above the equator which is good for wine eg - Southern France, California, Italy etc, and a southern strip x below the equator which is a good climate too - Argentina, South Africa, Northern Australia etc) and I learnt about which type of wine I like - via both a lot of wine tasting, but also these cute little interactive games like those you get at the science museum, but about wine.
Learning we are well bodied red girls. As if we needed a game to tell us...

The drawback with Vinopolis might be the cost. It is £27 for the wine tasting experience which includes the lesson and 7 tokens - so 7 lots of the lowest price wine, but this is not 7 glasses, this is 7 shots (each of the measurments from the machine is 25ml, ie a shot) and for £4 a shot, I'd expect to get a jaeger bomb. For another fiver you can get another 5 shots of wine, so a much better deal (less than £3) a shot, and makes it worth trying maybe one of the whites before moving on to red red red.

However, I think one of the best ways to experience Vinopolis, especially if you are buying it for an experience gift and want to make it all last a little longer. Vinopolis have a range of experiences on their site - from Burns' nights to chocolate tasting to nights with Oz Clarke, the wine man of the nineties.

I took my Mum to Vinopolis Sundays, which for £35 per person includes a two course roast lunch, a bloody mary, and 7 tokens for wine tasting. We then topped up those 7 with another, 4 tokens, which you can buy for £5 when you get there.

You eat in Vinopolis' restaurant, Cantina, which is actually pretty lovely. It is no Michelin starred silver service, but it is nice, more than Harvester nice, more than pizza express nice even, and actually a bloody good roast. (With bloody good salted caramel sticky toffee pudding for dessert).

Cantina, Vinopolis' restaurant

I don't mean to keep waffeling on, but also it is nice going on a Sunday as a) you don't have to queue for the clever wine vending machines like on a Saturday and b) it's totally respectable on a Sunday evening to go home and fall into a red wine induced slumber at 8:45pm.

So yeah, Vinopolis: wine and fun vending machines and finding out my mum and I both like "well bodied full reds". In the genes I guess.

My beautiful Mum, pleased as punch cos she is off to have a lot of red wine...

You can book on Vinopolis Sundays or any of their events here, and right now it is "buy one get one half price" on their wine tasting experiences, so more shots of wine per £.

Got something for your Mum, but need an idea for your Dad? I've taken him on a walking tour and a food tour and he was happy as larry, check out my post on them here: Friend: Go on a walking tour right where you live

No comments