Should you find yourself craving some vinous education or tastebud stimulation but too busy to jet off to Napa Valley or Reims this weekend, you’ll be glad to know that you needn’t head too far south. Of the river, that is.
Nestled discreetly within three acres of Victorian viaducts on the South Bank is Vinopolis; the wine-laden, expert-riddled wonderland dedicated to demystifying the pomposity and inaccessibility of viniculture and the subsequent tasting thereof. All hail, one of the most exciting wine tasting experiences in London.
The grandiose 19th century arches – complete with charming overhead rumbling as trains glide by – provide a perfectly historical backdrop within which to learn about, sip and enjoy one of civilisation’s most ancient liquids.
WSET-qualified connoisseurs are at hand to welcome and guide you through the dim-lit, bricked labyrinth and offer accurate suggestions and advice dependent on preference. And fear not if you’d rather get guzzling on your own accord, as touch screen tech will utilise knowledge of your palate to decipher and deliver information about the class of wine you’ll enjoy.
The amount of wine at your disposal is dependent upon the taste experience you purchase. Three packages are available, increasing in price and, thus, sampling ‘tokens’. The tokens are loaded onto a credit card for use in the Enomatic machines; use them as you desire. But as early evening absconds into night, make an effort to tame those undulant eyes and heavy lids and take note of each wine’s credits, the more expensive wines will set you back a few.
With wine attracting foremost, it’s easy to forgot the Vinopolis territory also claims five thirst-quenching bars and delectable eateries (remember our soirée at Del Mercato here) and eight separate events venues. If you want to host 750 guests or require an impressive but intimate location for a business meeting, there are stunning archways, cellars and halls for all occasions.
What’s more, should you fall helplessly in love and want to take a bottle home, there are two on-site retailers affiliated with Vinopolis to make purchasing your favourite tipple that bit easier.
A cobbled-stone’s throw away from the Borough market and London Bridge underground station, getting home with a brain full on oenology and grapes will be easy. Moreover, the audible trundling of trains are also a constant reminder that Waterloo is a mere 25 minutes walk; should your indefinite state require some meandering and a dash of London’s sobering fuliginous night air.
Vinopolis: wine-accompanied train spotting, albeit on a much suaver, comfortable and generally more enjoyable level with less actually visible trains and more Côtes du Rhône.
And as another train rumbles past up above, carrying sleepy-headed commuters off to distant lands, an irrefutable smugness creeps into your hazy consciousness; you may be sleep-headed, too, but for a whole other reason.
A: Vinopolis, No.1 Bank End, London, SE1 9BU
T: 0207 940 8300
Written by Jodie Jones