Wine tasting in a time of Corona Virus: what we are doing.

This is an update on the measures we are taking to protect our community during the Corona Virus outbreak. We appreciate that this is a concerning time for all.

We seek to remain considerately positive and minimise firstly risks to health, and secondly, impacts to the business we all love.

We have made a number of adaptations to how we host trade tastings and masterclasses, in line with UK governmental and NHS advice on hygienic practices. We will keep all our activities under review according to the latest advice from the UK Government.

Registration for tastings and events – please check your risk level

We draw your attention to the latest advice from Public Health England on the community containment of the Corona Virus, and a list of the regions from which incoming travel and self-isolation are currently in place, both for those with and without symptoms. We very much hope that you are not affected. But if you do meet any of the conditions specified in the latest advice, please do not attend a tasting. We will be very sorry to miss you, but would be delighted to keep you informed of future opportunities to taste Georgian wines, as well as send you information on wines and stockists.

You can view the latest advice page here:


  • Masterclass numbers will limited to a maximum of 30 people (we apologise if this means you cannot get a place).
  • Masterclass places will be arranged either on single tables, or as double spaces, so that people sitting at masterclasses have plenty of space around them.
  • All wines will be poured using drop stops, with pourers taking care not to touching the bottle rim to the glass rim.
  • We will pre-pour as much as possible, so that proximity is reduced, while not leaving the wine exposed for long in the glass.
  • Each guest will have a small individual spittoon, with larger spittoons available to pour into (not spit into!)

Walk-around tastings

  • Maximum registrations will be limited to a maximum of 100 people (typically, we have a 30% no-show rate, and the figure of 100 maximum takes this into account).
  • Again, we apologise if this means that you are unable to secure a place.
  • Guest reception:
    • On arrival, guests will be informed of the hand-washing facilities.
    • Let’s greet each other “Vulcan style”, or “hand on heart”, not “hand in hand”!
    • We will invite guests to take a tasting booklet, pen, glass etc.
    • We will initial your tasting glass to avoid any glass confusion.
    • We will provide each guest with their own, initialled, disposable spittoon.
  • We kindly ask all guests to take the following approach when pouring samples:
    • Pick up towards base of the bottle.
    • Don’t allow the neck of the bottle to graze the top of your glass.
    • To please move away from the pouring table to the spittoons promptly, so that tables don’t become congested.
  • We will use insert slow pours to minimise dribbles (our team will wear gloves for this kind of thing).
  • Our team members will wipe down the base of sample bottles with fragrance wipes during the tasting.
  • Washrooms and sinks will be regularly inspected for cleanliness, and plenty of soap.
  • Clear instructions for hygienic disposal of discarded personal spittoons will be given.
  • We will provide clearly signed ‘clean glasses’ and ‘dirty glasses’ tables, away from each other.
  • We will promptly clear away dirty glasses to avoid any contamination.
  • Food served will be as individual portions (no buffet or communal platters).
  • We will provide plenty of floor standing spittoons to empty the small ones into.
  • Our team will wash hands with soap and water every 30 minutes. Please feel free to follow their lead!

We all follow many of these practices already, of course! It’s mostly all about the hand-washing. And the spittoons.

Our next tasting is the Georgian Trade Tasting on the 25th March: Wines of Georgia UK – Trade and Press Tasting 2020. A few places still remain.

If you have booked a place on a tasting and are no longer able to attend, if at all possible please let us know, or cancel via EventBrite.

With very best wishes,

Sarah Abbott MW and team.

#PouringforAustralia – British wine and hospitality trades offer support in wake of Australian bushfires

It is so huge, and we are so small. The loss of lives, habitat, wildlife. And wine is tiny and frivolous. But the Australians I know I know through wine, and all livings are valuable, and precious to those that making them.

My Australian friends had talked about bushfire season before. One vivid scene, told to me by a winemaker. They were packing up and leaving fast. Wildfire approaching. His little daughter could only find one of her shoes. Just wear odd shoes! he exploded. She cried, and left in the odd shoes. (They were all fine.) Trying not to scare your kids, but get the hell out in time. That stayed with me.

As Kate McIntyre, a Master of Wine who works at her family winery in Victoria, says: “our greatest fire danger is usually not until February so the greatest fear is that this is not the end of fires this summer.” These fires have started earlier and spread further than is usual. (Although, as another Aussie friend told me, these fires are, to date, slower and less deadly than in the last big fires of 2009, when 173 people died in one day. Improved communication and early warning is saving lives, although tragically, not every life.)

Another winemaker friend in New Zealand has shared photographs of their sky stained sepia by Australian fire smoke.

The estimable Jancis Robinson has published this post on ways to help.

And while the impact on affected wine regions and wineries can be huge, Australians, ever-positive, stress that their wine industry is strong and resilient. This release, from Wine Australia, puts the total area of affected vineyard at 1% of Australia’s total.

We have started this post in an attempt to list, in one place, the various initiatives and events from the UK wine and hospitality trades to support Australia, as best we – as #winelovers – can.

We love you Australia – so many of us in the wine trade have been blessed by the openness, generosity, guts, craftsmanship and sincerity of our Australian wine colleagues. I don’t think I’d have passed my MW without a seminal trip to Australia back in 2003. I was travelling on a tight budget and all it took was one introduction and winemakers opened their homes and spare rooms to me, answering every stupid question, and driving me what turned out to be enormous distances between wineries that had looked so close on the map.
Links to UK wine events and initiatives held in support of those affected by Australian bushfires follow below. We’ll be updating these as we have details confirmed.

10th to 12th January  – Online auction of some of the finest Australian Wine known to humanity, by Gus Gluck.

28th JanuaryLondon’s Portland Restaurant and Graft Wine are holding a fundraising dinner for Vinteloper estate and more broadly Adelaide Hills wine producers, several of whom were very badly affected by bushfires. Once in a lifetime wines and amazing food. Booking via email on

From the newsletter of Graft Wine (importer of Vinteloper and other fine Australian wines) on 9th January:

Wander in Stoke Newington are doing a special flight of wines at the moment featuring Dal Zotto Prosecco and Vinteloper and holding dinners over the Australia Day weekend (24-26 January), with donations coming from glasses and bottles sold. Wander founder Alexis, who was in the Adelaide Hills at the time of the Cudlee Creek fire, has also been instrumental drumming up support from other restaurants and bars.

Ham restaurant in Hampstead are donating £1 from sales of Anzac biscuits and will are pouring Vinteloper this month. The Laughing Heart are also pouring Vinteloper and donating £1 from every glass and £5 from every bottle of Australian wine sold, plus all proceeds from sausage roll sales and £1 from every bill. Milk Beach Café is donating 30p from every flat white sold this month, plus additional fundraising events. Pidgin has a dinner on 27th January to raise funds for the Red Cross.

Winerama, part of London Union’s Dinerama in Shoreditch, is pouring a flight of Vinteloper wines starting today at 5.00pm and running through to Saturday to raise further funds.

The great guys at Chesters Wine Merchants in Abergavenny are hosting a Vinteloper fundraising dinner on 25th January. Please contact Lloyd for more details about this one.

13th January 2020 – another initiative from MWs Richard Kelley and Miles Corish (a gifted cricketer, as you may well guess from their chosen theme).

Australian Wildfires Fundraising Initiative

A Three Test Match Series – South Africa vs Australia Taste-Off Challenge

Cheshire – Yorkshire – London

March 2020  #testmatchtasteoff

The wildfire crisis in Australia has instigated various fund-raising efforts within the UK wine trade.  One such initiative is a series of three ‘Test Match’ challenges involving two Masters of Wine:

Miles Corish MW of Milestone Wines is a native of Australia

Richard Kelley MW of Dreyfus Ashby UK is most closely associated with the wines of South Africa

Richard Kelley MW comments: ‘The environmental impact of the wildfires has troubled me greatly. Talk of the extinction of certain species is beyond comprehension. Whilst I have no commercial interests in Australia, I wanted to see what I could do to help with some fundraising. Challenging my old friend (and ex-professional cricketer) Miles, to a ‘taste-off’ of the best wines of our respective countries, seemed a logical way to raise some funds to help with the relief efforts’.

Dates for the series are:

1ST TEST Wednesday 4th March – Cheshire

Facilitated by Jon Campbell at DeFine Food and Wine, Sandiway

2ND TEST Thursday 5th March – Yorkshire

Facilitated by Andy Langshaw at Harrogate Wines

3RD TEST Wednesday 11th March – London

at the Institute of Masters of Wine office in Battersea

moderated by Jancis Robinson OBE MW

Ticket prices for the Cheshire and Yorkshire events are £50 per person. Tickets for the London ‘test’ are set at £100.

All proceeds from the events will be donated equally between environmental and social appeals.

For more information on the Test Matches please contact:

1ST TEST: Jon Campbell, DeFine Food and Wine –

2ND TEST: Andy Langshaw, Harrogate Wines –

3RD TEST: Richard Kelley MW –

General enquiries should be addressed to Richard Kelley MW.   Further updates will also be available via the website. #testmatchtasteoff

13th January – fundraising promotion from Alliance Wine, a noted importer and maker of fine Australian wine:

Giles Cooke MW of Alliance Wine tells me: “as of next week and for all of January and February, Alliance Wine will be donating £10 for every case of Thistledown sold to help those affected by the Adelaide Hills fires.”
See Alliance Wine’s website for information on Thistledown Wine:

Hot Dinners are compiling a good list of everything that’s happening in London here.