Keeping a wine list of over 80 wines fresh and interesting for guests means going to tastings.
This is not a great hardship and its is about this time of year that most wine merchants hold their annual tastings.
Yesterday was the turn of multi-award-winning merchants, Tanners of Shrewsbury to throw open the cellar doors to the trade for their annual tasting.
The tasting is arranged throughout their rabbit warren of cellars, shop and offices at Wyle Kop in Shrewsbury.
This is a great chance to meet and talk to several producers who come from all over the winemaking world to show off their wines personally.
There were around 75 wines on show, so I had to have a careful look at the tasting list and not just diving in at number one and working my way to the end – I just can’t taste that many wines.
One of the high spots for me were to meet Bruno Fina from Sicilia and taste his lovely Grillo, a grape grown only in the west of the island.
It has a very distinctive orange peel nose and will be a great summer aperitif.
He also gave us a taste of his unusual dessert wine (El Aziz, Vendemmia Tardiva, Vino da Tavola) using late-harvested Chardonnay, it is superb and he has kept the balance between sweetness and acidity perfectly.
I always try to find wines for the list that are not run of the mill and certainly never found on the shelves of the supermarkets.
One such producer is Sami Ghosn of Massaya in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. A partnership with the brothers Brunier of Chateauneuf has produced a number of powerful Rhone-style reds, real meaty, spicy wines that need to be drunk with red meat and rich sauces.
Look out for the Massaya Selection Silver on the wine list when you are next at Gliffaes.
By the way, an interesting day out from Gliffaes can be to take the train to Shrewsbury (about 1 hour 25 minutes from Abergavenny) all the way up the Welsh Marches, a pretty journey in its own right.
Shrewsbury has plenty of interesting things to see and do and you would be most welcome to call in at the Tanners shop.