A midweek outing to see Great Britain play Serbia in the Olympic Basketball Arena (pictured left) was destined to be dry as the tickets specified ‘airport style security’ and ‘no alcohol’. However, on arrival we were happy to note a shiny airstream trailer selling a decent selection of bottles. It is part of a fleet of vintage vehicles, also including classic Citroen vans, used by the Wondering Wine Company (I wondered if it was a misspelling…) an offshoot of Bibendum Wines committed to entering the lucrative ’festival market’.
The list includes three sparkling, five whites, a rose and five reds. A solid mix of the familiar and dependable with a few pleasant surprises including some at a fiver a glass. The De Castellane Brut NV was ok but not cheap at £45 for a bottle or £7.50 a glass, although the blurb was a bit OTT with ‘compote, brioche and gingerbread’. Spy Valley Pinot Noir is consistently good, as is their Sauvignon Blanc and both were under 30 quid a bottle or £7 per 175 cl glass. Having wines like this available is welcome and I had a brief chat with Simon Swift MD the driving force behind Wondering Wine. He was particularly effusive about the Margaux on the list, La Bastide de Dauzac (£34 or £8.50 for a glass) which was ‘spicy’ as advertised but confusingly described as ‘clean’. It was technically sound and very drinkable. Having wines like this available, rather than some of the horrors on offer at other sporting events, has got to be a good thing.
I was most interested in the way in which the wines were served though. A lot of effort, and cost, had gone into the cardboard box, with optional ice, and the ‘specimen bottle’ style plastic decanter (£5 deposit and pictured left). A nice touch is the label with the details of the wine on which is attached to the carafe with a rubber band. The tumblers were also plastic but a cut above the standard flimsy things favoured at glass free events. Perfect for picnics. If you are paying 30 quid for a bottle of wine you don’t want to drink it from something that completely undermines the taste and these were the best non glass ‘glasses’ I have experienced.
We got lucky in the Olympic ticket lottery with boxing, shooting, basketball, handball and diving tickets (friends attribute it to a postcode conspiracy) so it was exciting to get a taste of what’s to come. I can really understand people being frustrated with the lottery but for me the tragedy of the games is that local kids have not been allocated tickets. My kids will get to be part of it but many of their friends will not. Boris should reconsider this and keep in mind the alienation felt by many young people in East London.
Btw Great Britain lost in a nail-biting finish: with two seconds to go and two points behind Serbia they completely fluffed a potential 3 pointer which would have won it. Oldest son Luke, who is ‘shooting guard’ for Newham All Star Academy, could have got it closer! It was an exciting game though and the series of ‘test events’ should help preparations for the real thing next summer. Hopefully some decent wines will be available but the burger company monopoly might undermine a wide range of food being available…