Follows part 1.
It`s 8.45pm. We are at The Wine Centre around one-third way through our Friday night dinner “roller coaster”. Guests have paid £65 for the evening. In the last blog we covered the aperitif and the first two courses with matching white wines. Now we are being poured our first red wine of the evening, a palate cleanser, without food. It`s Prà Morandina Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy 2018 (£19.99), a fragrant Valpolicella, light and airy, with red savoury fruits and subtle notes of sage, thyme and oak. On the finish there`s a curious bitter twist and taut balancing acidity, which is lovely. There`s a noisy buzz around the shop, as though the wine bottles all around us are reverberating applause. Our guests are happy and settled. Next up is the rolled lamb breast, a southern French classic, steeped in red wine pearl onion and thyme jus, with grilled baby courgettes & aubergines. It is paired with Boutinot`s `Séguret` Côtes du Rhône Villages, France 2015 (£16.99) from 80% Grenache & 20% Syrah grapes. This wine is such fantastic value. It is “singing” tonight with layers of red and black fruits, exotic spices, cracked black pepper and vanilla. Predictably, the lamb dish and red wine blend beautifully. As the plates are being cleared the noise in the shop is broken by the resonating chink of spoon on Riedel glass. The cheese platters are circulated, and our chef Dominic Carter mingles with guests. Meantime an intensely fruity low-tannin red is served: Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha, Campo de Borja, Spain 2017 (£18.99). The wine is a compote of luscious strawberries, raspberries and cherries, amid Provençal herbs, violets and vanilla. It provides an exquisite contrast of sweet red fruits and salty cheeses. Finally, we finish the evening with Dominic`s light speculoos & raspberry cheesecake, paired with Castelvetro`s `Pignoletto` Spumante, Emilia Romagna NV (£17.99), an aromatic sparkling white wine with bright notes of green apples, lemons and limes. It`s our chance now to clink glass to glass around the table, and the roller coaster comes to an end. It`s 10.45pm.