A hall more commonly used for tai chi, yoga, pilates and all kinds of dancing turned, for an hour or so, into a place of wine education and enjoyment.
My goal was to bring wines that people may never consider, may never have tried and alternatives to standard "favourites". It's fair to say, there were a few surprises. And I was really happy to see that everyone was open to trying new things, and even happier that my white wine choices went down well with people who "only drink red wine".
There's so much wine to discover, so don't be afraid to try something new.
What we loved about this wine was the floral and fruit flavours, a hefty dose of peach, some grape, and a good body with not too much acidity. No-one had tried this variety before and I think it's a good alternative to Viognier and even unoaked new world chardonnays. At Christmas it would make a nice aperitif or match some seafood appetisers.
Next came the Alsace Pinot Gris (£9.99 from Waitrose). I am in the "down with Pinot Grigio" club and it depresses me that it's often the house white in many bars and restaurants. Compared to the Alsace expression of Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio can be so dull, acidic and unbalanced - especially at the cheaper end of the market.
Of course, I'm biased, as I have a real passion for Alsace whites. I hope to organise a drinking and dancing trip to the area next year, so I was really pleased when the crowd agreed. This wine was the absolute favourite among our whites for it's body, hints of honey and ginger, smooth drinking and how well it paired with some of the strong cheeses. I also recommend this wine with lightly spiced Asian cuisine, or just to drink on it's own.
Sadly it was the same story for our Agiorgitiko (~£7 a bottle). No refills were taken and there was almost a full bottle left at the end of the night. It's a litte sad as this wine has some character, with softer tannins and lower acidity. A hint of spritz, some strawberry bubblegum and fruit in a manner reminiscent of a Beaulolais, and a smooth, easy drinking wine should easily please Merlot drinkers. A version from Nemea (the best area for this grape) is available at Marks and Spencer if you've not been put off. It's one to drink on it's own.
Luckily, my favourite little piggy was well appreciated for it's chocolaty spice, rich black fruits, velvety texture and full body. I was glad I'd warned the participants to bring along a toothbrush as the teeth were purpling up nicely with this one, and it didn't end up in the spittoon, being the first wine to run out on the night.
My aim here was to show people what spending a bit more than normal on their bottle of shiraz can deliver, and I think most were convinced. One lovely lady even bought my "emergency" bottle.
Finally, we sampled "The Wise One", an Australian fortified wine (£11 from the Wine Society) similar in style to a 10 year Tawny Port. It's a reasonably priced Port substitute in full bottle size, unusual for many dessert wines. Blended from Shiraz, Grenache and Verdehlo grapes aged to provide toffee flavours, dates, spice, chocolate and sure to be a hit with strong cheeses or Christmas pudding/cake alike. It's a shame I couldn't sell this, as there were several guests who will probably now be signing up to join the Wine Society just to get their hands on some. I seem to note the bottle disappearing into the hands of some charming young men, and who was I to argue? Interestingly, our Australian guests had never tasted anything like this, with different styles of dessert wine, such as fortified muscats being much more commonly drunk Down Under.
I loved hearing everyone's feedback on the event, on the wines they sampled and on learning a bit more about wine. If you want to have a Purple Teeth tasting party at your event, private party or corporate function, just contact me here. I'm also happy to provide wine education via Skype, and to provide bespoke wine buying services for you, or as a gift service. Meanwhile, if you're inspired to try something new, I'd love to hear what you think about it, either via Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Thanks again to Swing Dance Movement. And if you fancy a night off the booze, why not pop along to their beginner class near London Bridge every Tuesday night to learn to dance?