I’ve always been a little nervous around wine. For context: I never drank alcohol as a teenager, I would go to parties and sit in the corner tending to a panic attack while my friends tended to their barely diluted vodka and coke’s, and for a while I identified as wholly, unequivocally, straightedge.
However, it didn’t take me long to realise that I was abstaining for all the wrong reasons. I liked the superiority it gave me, I liked feeling more mature and sensible than my peers (emphasis on the “feeling” – I definitely wasn’t mature or sensible) and frankly: I was terrified of the idea. Obviously, those aren’t the best reasons to make your mind up about a substance, and when I found myself on the other side of the legal drinking age my opinion started to shift.
All that to say, I’m now in a position where I enjoy drinking but don’t drink all that often, and so am immensely ignorant of any kind of alcohol that isn’t in my cocktail order – either an amaretto and lemonade or a fireball and coke, in case you’re wondering.
So when Veeno Italian Wine Cafe contacted me to review their newest Leeds branch at 5 Wellington Place I was super excited to finally learn something about wine, and they assured me that their wine tasting program was the perfect place to start.
Thet were right.
From the moment we arrived (because they were kind enough to let me bring along a plus one, and my mum was just as desperate for a night out as I was!) we were treated like royalty – offered a choice of any drink we fancied in addition to those included in the wine tasting, and guided to a private booth complete with a velvet rope across the doorway.
Only once we were safely settled on the sofas with glasses of prosecco was the subject of the wine tasting brought up at all, and even then the lovely lady named Steph assured us that this was to be an easy introduction to wine, featuring some of the best Italian whites, reds and rosé’s that could not be found anywhere else in the UK.
Each of the five wines we tried was perfectly matched to a cheese or meat, also from Italy, and even when I bashfully admitted to being vegetarian I was catered for – I had barely blinked before a plate of extra cheeses and freshly made bruschetta had been placed in front of me!
Listening to Steph describe the origins and methods for making each of the wines and foods on our plates was completely fascinating, and any questions we had were answered immediately and with genuine excitement. It was like having an old, if far more knowledgeable, friend along for the evening – but she also made sure to give us time to gossip over our glasses and relax under the soft lights by ourselves.
Once we’d made our way through the final red we got up to leave, but we were gently told that there was still more to come. Steph disappeared and then returned again with two adorable tiny glasses of sherry, not to mention two huge hunks of tiramisu that she’d made herself! We were informed with a wry smile that you couldn’t leave a meal without having dessert, and both of us heartily agreed!
In short, we had a wonderful evening that was the perfect balance between relaxing and informative, and made me much more enthusiastic about wine tastings in the future. I still might not be able to tell a woody note from a smoky one, but I have discovered that there is indeed good red wine out there, and that is just as much of a revelation for me! I would recommend either branch of Veeno to anyone looking for an authentic Italian experience, or anyone just looking for a good spot for a gossip and a glass of white.