Free wine tasting you say? Well there’s an event with my name on it. We had the good fortune to come across Majestic wines advertisement for a wine tasting evening at their place in Leicester, a chance to sample some of their concierge collection of wines, available by subscription.
Majestic is reachable on foot from Leicester City Centre walking down Humberstone Gate and then crossing over by the Lidl store for a short stroll to the shop. If coming by car, do arrive early, as the car park isn’t the largest.
One surprise right after walking through the door is just how small the store actually is. However, size isn’t everything (so they say) and when we delved a little further into the displays it becomes apparent that the selection here is very good.
You do need to put your name down online with Majestic to register for the free tasting but that’s simply a formality. Many people began to arrive and gather around the first tasting station – a glass of welcome fizz.
Something I really hate is people who just take the proverbial. A woman along with her husband came through the doors, marched over to the fizz table and poured herself a full glass, seriously, how rude is that? Everyone else with tasting-sized glassfuls looked on in astonishment.
Rude people aside, everyone was getting a good swig of the fizz. This turned out to be Graham Beck Brut from South Africa. I’m normally a bit ‘meh’ when it comes to champagnes and sparkling wines as many are dry and gassy – this one was a real surprise. Smooth, easy to drink with a real fruity taste. A really good start.
Over we went to the white wine station at which three wines awaited us. The staff split the explanations and serving between themselves which worked really well and generously provided two types of cheese, crisps, popcorn and bread. Wine glasses replaced our champagne flutes as we got to try our first white wine of the evening.
The first wine came courtesy of the United States – an 8000 Lakes Sauvignon Blanc 2017. Washington, as our guide explained, is an upcoming area for good quality wines. This wine was a great introduction to the American varieties with a light texture and a good fresh fruit flavour.
Off to Chile for our next wine – a Luis Felipe Gran Reserva Chardonnay again from 2017. I wasn’t as keen on this wine. In comparison to the 8000 Lakes it was a lot sharper with grapefruit notes, almost enough to make me squint considerably. With the cheese provided, especially the Manchego, it wasn’t too bad, not really something that I would go for.
Back to Washington for the next glass – a Parcel Series Riesling from 2017. I would never have thought to have looked to America for Riesling but all that was set to change. This is class in a glass. All the flavours of a top class riesling, a top quality wine that went with everything that was on the table.
Round we went to the red wine station where again three wines were waiting. A different member of staff was also there to pour us a sample and provide information on the three reds. First into our glasses – a Syrah from the Rhone Valley, Jaboulet 2016.
We had not long returned from Lyon so French wine is still running through my system. This wine is a decent drinkable red, a lot lighter than many from the Rhone Valley and perfect with cheese.
A malbec from Mendoza, a cracking wine region, Argentina came our way next. Definition Malbec 2016 to give the full title. Malbec is usually a smooth, drinkable red ideal with a good steak. This one kind of fell short of my expectations a bit. This was a lot more oaky and lacking the smoothness that I enjoy in a malbec, not one that I would really fork out £11.99 for.
The last red wine got us all talking. A spicy number from Chile ‘Bodega Volcanes Carmenere 2016’. Straight away, the hit of pepper got me and the spice really comes to the fore. I didn’t really like it on its own but when trying it with salty cheese or crisps, it completely transformed. A perfect red with food.
It was actually really nice to swap opinions with fellow drinkers. Many were taking advantage of the new found flavours and ordering bottles by the case. For me, it really got me thinking more about how to pair wine to compliment food. Something that i’ve really never looked at before.
I couldn’t resist in the end, I had to go and grab one. I headed straight for that smashing riesling and made my first purchase from Majestic. At a price of £10.99 it was money well spent. It’s worth noting that if you buy six wines you get them all for a lower price – fantastic value.
Overall, the evening was a success. Majestic really have come up with a great idea hosting these events. To have an opportunity to have a free taste of a variety of wines is a really interesting way to spend an evening. I actually learned way more than I ever have before about wine, food and obscure varieties available now on my doorstep. I’m already looking forward to the next one.
Nearest Train Station: Leicester