We know we love to drink wine but how much do we really know about wine itself? While we may be able to pass as not total novices by loudly declaring we need to let the bottle breathe, we still have a while to go. Someone who knows everything there is to know about wine is wine consultant and presenter of ITV’s The Wine Show, Amelia Singer. Amelia is also the founder of self-titled wine business, Amelia’s, which organises and hosts bespoke wine tastings and events. Described as ‘the female Jamie Oliver of the wine world’ we met up with Amelia to discuss everything wine-related.
How did you get into wine tasting?
A very wine-enthusiastic and European father – I was weaned on wine from age 6! Only one sip before dinner mind. I could graduate to a small glass once I hit double figures. He encouraged me to taste everything with an open mind and no flavour descriptions were too weird!
What’s your favourite part about your job?
I love being able to work with all kinds of people – wine traders, restaurants, artistic venues, media and I adore having clients of all ages and with different kinds of wine experience. It keeps me stimulated as I constantly have to think up different formats to engage and empower people.
What would be your best tips for wine novices?
Be open-minded! Never before has there been such choice for such good quality wine from all around the world.
Wines which have a screw cap do not mean that it’s an inferior wine. If you can’t decide which wine to order in a restaurant and they have a range of wines by the glass, ask the waiter for a sip of any of the wines which they serve by the glass. That way you can try before you buy and you will make the waiter’s day by engaging with the list.
What’s your favourite wine and why?
Oooh… that is extremely difficult. A bit like asking what my favourite music or book is. It completely depends on the mood. My most recent favourite was a Cremant du Jura which I served at my 30th birthday party. It is made using the same method as Champagne and then is topped up with Vin Jaune – a wine similar in style to sherry. The result is a wine that tastes like Vintage Bollinger but which is also a third of the price!
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Jamie Oliver – Jamie Oliver inspired me to go into wine and make it fun. He is still such a rock star and inspiration. He also gave me my first big media break by letting me help write and appear on his Drinkstube channel.
My father – He got me into wine from the beginning and he is one of the people I have the most fun with when drinking it now.
Jamie Cullum – I love jazz and Jamie is such a nice guy and talented performer. I would serve him lovely wine in exchange to be serenaded on my tiny keyboard.
And as this is a dream, could I possibly resurrect someone from the dead?! I think Victoria Wood would be the most fabulous addition. The laughter and wine would be flowing all night.
Absolutely not! There are obviously fantastic wines from incredible sites in France and Italy which are beautifully made and age incredibly well. It therefore is like drinking liquid history and there is a real romance and wonder to that. That semi justifies the prices, however there is now wonderful wine to be had from all over the world at much more democratic prices. Finding vinous bargains, I always find extremely satisfying and I never buy wine for investment. I wrote an article recently where I described myself as a wine accumulator as opposed to a wine collector. I buy with my heart as opposed to my head.
Who inspired you to go in to wine?
Again, my father was a huge inspiration. Jamie Oliver though really inspired me by how he made cooking so accessible and really empowered people. I will never forget the day I got a call from his team asking me to be the wine contributor for his Drinkstube channel. I was beyond elated!
What’s been the biggest achievement in your career so far?
I think being a researcher and a TV presenter on ITV’s The Wine Show has been a real milestone for me. I always knew I wanted to be an effective wine communicator and to work with such a talented team has been a real privilege and learning experience. I always wanted to do something with wine and media that would appeal to people of all ages, all stages of wine knowledge and would have international appreciation. This show does all of that and has proven to be a success on screen and on social media. I am very lucky to have been given such an opportunity to be a part of it.
Have you ever had any difficult customers or disasters during your wine tastings?
Luckily I have not had too many difficult customers; everyone seems to be very jolly at my events and eager to learn and have a good time. The most awkward event was when I had a wine and cheese tasting at quite a well-known members club in Central London. They had bought completely the wrong cheeses from what I had asked them for and what I had based the wines on. That event definitely tested my ability to think on my feet and be a creative educator.
What is the best booking or event you’ve been asked to work at?
The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival interviewing wine legend Hugh Johnson next Saturday 8th October. I did English Literature at University and adore that festival. To actually be asked to be an interviewer there and with such an incredible figure in the wine trade is amazing.
Tell us a little more about the events and supper clubs you host.
I do a whole range of tastings, events and supper clubs from pop ups in my own home to big corporate tastings. I work with a number of different suppliers, venues and even artistic organisations – pairing wine up with all kinds of cuisines and even art forms. I adore pairing wine with music and literature for example. This I think reflects the holistic view I have of wine. It is not simply an alcoholic product designed to get people drunk. There are so many different ways to engage, learn more and enjoy it with others around you. I tend to do one pop-up in my mews house every month and then do a mixture of tastings with restaurants, festivals and corporate clients the rest of the time – Christmas is coming up and that’s a popular time.
What’s next for Amelia’s?
What don’t I have planned?! I just love how multifaceted wine is as a product and there is really so much one can do to increase its appeal. There will definitely be a whole new format of events in my home, more appearances at various festivals and shows, exciting collaborations with some of London’s coolest brands right now, more online videos and quite possibly some more exciting media plans with The Wine Show in the pipeline…
Like the sound of wine tasting at your Christmas party? Contact Amelia for more details and have her make your party one that won’t be easily forgotten