I recently left my job for many reasons, one of which being that after working constantly since I left university ten years ago without even a two week holiday in that time, I was knackered. There were also significantly more sensible reasons like wanting to write more, wanting to sing more, and wanting to just take a bit of time to explore where I wanted to go next in the drinks trade.
It turns out that I really don’t like not having a job so, after a few weeks of going on honeymoon, catching up with friends, watching multiple box sets as they should be watched (in sessions of several hours while wearing pyjamas) I managed to get myself a few shifts a week at the brilliant Vinoteca in Soho.
I’ve blogged about it before but that was mainly about my obsession with the interiors, particularly the apple green leather banquettes, so perhaps not with as much focus on the wine as it deserves (not to do down the banquettes – I now see them three or four times a week and the obsession shows no signs of abating). It’s a fantastic place to work due to the staff, atmosphere and general buzz, as well as having a fascinating selection of wines, around 25 of which are by the glass at any one time. I won’t pretend it’s easy going back to high energy bar shifts at the age of 32 after 6 years of office jobs, but it’s worth every late night and moment of creaky knees.
Just a handful of the extraordinary wines I have got to know in the last two weeks by working in a great bar include:
2011 Costieres de Nimes Blanc, Mas des Bressades – Rhone, France
2012 Naoussa ‘Young Vines’, Thymiopolous – Macedonia, Greece
2012 Fiano do Puglia, Mezzogiorno – Puglia, Italy
2009 Verdelho ‘Maranoa’, David Traeger – Victoria, Australia
2013 Puritan Shiraz, Battle of Bosworth – Mclaren Vale, Australia
2010 Crozes Hermitage ‘Champ Morel’, Martine Vandré – Rhone, France
2011 Element 20, Litmus – Surrey, England
2012 Terra Alta Garnacha Blanca, La Multa – Catalunya, Spain
2011 Fitou ‘Jean de Pila’, Domaine de Roudènes – Languedoc, France
All of these are interesting delicious and excellent value – I’d happily recommend any of them.
Other things I have got to know in the last two weeks by working in a great bar include:
- However tired you are after a shift which finishes around 1am, you will need to stay up for at least an hour and a quarter watching stupid television and eating inappropriate foodstuffs when you finally get home. This will hit a low point at Ryvita spread thickly with butter when the cupboard is bare, but occasionally peak with things like leftover Crispy Duck pancakes and your own body weight in Green and Blacks Sea Salt Milk Chocolate.
- Central London at 2am on a Saturday night is like rush hour. For drunk people.
- Bar work is the mortal enemy of nice looking nails. My hands have, in the course of two weeks, started to resemble those of a 70 year old Mongolian potato farmer. I have since discovered Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve and cannot recommend it enough to combat the potato farmer-ness.
- People continue to surprise you constantly. The general public is a non-stop source of entertainment and fascination.
- Spending time recommending a wine to someone then later being told how much they loved it just never gets old.
- Serving wine to other people for 8 hours does not make you want to drink wine less.
More insights into the world of the wine bar to come, as well as what I’ve been drinking in my own time (clue – there may be a large overlap with the above list. I get a staff discount at Vinoteca and have been not just using it, but abusing it.)