Here in Barnet we are a bit limited for wine shopping. Cool new independent wine merchants are popping up around London like Theatre of Wine, Bottle Apostle and Prohibition Wines, but not yet up here. We have Majestic in East Barnet that does a solid job with tempting regular offers and where you can taste wines before buying them. We also have Waitrose in The Spires. Its range is a bit more limited than other branches and this is particularly obvious in busy periods like the run up to Christmas when interesting lines sell out quickly. And there’s a cheerfully run Threshers in New Barnet offering the Collect Plus service for dropping off parcels. However, it’s no wonder many local wine lovers rely on mail order companies that aren’t constrained by pricy overheads.
To be honest, if you love wine, you should consider joining mutual mail order merchant, The Wine Society. Established in 1874 and owned by its members, they offer what’s almost certainly the best value range of wines in the UK backed up with top class service. The Wine Society was originally based in the City of London, but relocated in the 1960s to a large site in Stevenage where they host a range of events and their temperature controlled warehousing includes an area for members’ wines bought from The Society (subject to an annual fee from £7.92 per case). There are many benefits, but the main appeal is access to an exciting range of wines at excellent prices. It’s no surprise they regularly win top trade gongs, most recently National Wine Retailer of the Year 2014 awarded by Decanter magazine and Wine Club of the Year (International Wine Challenge 2014).
Glancing through the current wine list (April–July 2015) a good way of trying out the range is with mixed cases. Members Favourites is a broad selection from around the world for £78 (average bottle price £6.50) and others include Big Reds (£105 for 12) and Summer Sauvignons (£89 for 12). I particularly like the halves case (£59 for 12) – ideal for restricting weekday drinking without having to reseal opened bottles. The 140 page wine list includes serious investment wines for cellaring, as well as plenty of easy drinking options for less than £6 (that taste so much better than the supermarket offerings). Interesting spirits, beers, soft drinks, gifts and accessories are also available. They even have an outlet in Montreuil near Boulogne in France where their wines can be bought duty free.
Sorry if this sounds like a bit of a puff piece, I just think it’s an amazing organisation run by some of the best people in the business and with good principles. What’s not to like?
Lifetime membership costs £40 with a discount of £20 off your first order.
(Images kindly supplied by The Wine Society.)