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My boyfriend and I visted Vinopolis for the 'Grapevine tour' the weekend before valentine's day, whilst away for a romantic weekend in London. The tour costs about £24 each, but a little tip... if you go to London on the train, you can use the 241 discount london tourism vouchers available in the 241 booklets kept in the train station entrances, or you can download and print vouchers from their website to present with your train ticket. Half price tour anybody!
When the tour starts you are given a ticket with perforrated vouchers for your 'how to taste wine' lesson (a glass to taste included) your 5 glasses of wine (choose from reds and whites from all over the world, a huge selection) and a voucher for your Bombay Saphire Cocktail in the cool Bombay Saphire lounge.
The staff are helpful and knowledgable, the setting is relaxing, quiet and calm and the wine delicious. We learnt a lot from the talks and the various videos and museum type displays thoughout the tour. It was quite romantic to sit and see, smell, sip, gulp and slurp wine together and try each other's choices. You are also given a wine tasing book with your ticket which gives a recap of what you learn on your tour so you can continue to taste wine properly, and it has a space to note down the wines you choose to taste.
The venue also has a restaurant and an area which serves tapas to accompany your wine (at an extra charge). The venue even does weddings if you're looking for a London venue that's a bit different!
Vinopolis is a cracking day out in London, based on the South Bank within an easy 5 minute walk of London Bridge rail and tube stations and located next to the famous Borough Market.
Vinopolis is a great place to come in London either for a meal in the fabulous restaurant or to develop a greater understanding of wine, its taste and its history.
We visited on a 2 for 1 voucher which we gained via a British Rail days out guide, this entitled us to two entry tickets for the price of one, It therefore cost us £15 for two tickets, we then paid extra for Champagne tasting and Gin tasting on top of the wine tasting, so in total it cost us around £30 for a really enjoyable afternoon .
Vinopolis is open on Thursday and Fridays from Midday until 10pm, Saturdays from 11am to 10pm and Sundays from Midday to 6pm.
The venue is cavernous and even includes a large Majestic Wine Warehouse where you can purchase wine after your visit. When you enter Vinopolis you can visit whichever areas you wish depending on what tasting vouchers you hold.
You can go to a really interesting wine tasting masterclass where an expert explains how to drink wine, what to look for in taste and texture and the history of wine.
The champagne tasting bar was our first port of call and neither of us really liked or understood champagne, but we were poured three different glasses of champagne and talked through how to taste them and what we should taste in each one, you are given a pad for your visit on which you can impart your own thoughts on the drinks.
Following three glasses of champagne, we sat in a nice lounge drinking these and chatting we moved on to an area for new world wines and tasted some interesting wines with our vouchers, from Argentine Malbec and Chilean Sauvignon Blanc through to some fine Australian and South African wines, we then headed to the gin bar and had a lovely Bombay Sapphire cocktail which was awesome and really nice, the bar was quite a cool little area to chill but by this stage I especially was feeling a tad the worse for wear.
Moving on there was an absinthe tasting area which we missed as we felt it would push us into realms of drunkenness although it would have been interesting to taste the notorious Green liquid which was banned for so long. We moved onto an area to try classic wines and this was exceptional we tried Reislings, Burgandy, Pinot Noir and some beautiful Chardonnay, unfortunately whilst by this time we were having an amusing and fun filled time, we were at the end of the tour.
I would recommend the tour to anyone who enjoys wine and wants to learn more, but either be cautious in what you drink or take sunglasses as hitting daylight at 4pm on a Friday having quaffed around 10 glasses of red and white wine and champagne as well as cocktails is ill advised.
Overall it was a great experience which was interesting, great value (with the vouchers) and fun.
First: the boring, informative part. I recently visited Vinopolis in a party of six, each of us paying £27.50 to do the 'Spirit of Vinopolis' tour, which allowed us to taste five wines (six if you include the one in the tutorial), three rums, two beers, two whiskeys, two absinthes and a Bombay Sapphire gin cocktail. You can buy stamps for extra drinks on your way around, but we found this was more than enough.
The booking procedure was very simple and straightforward and the place itself is dead easy to find - a simple stroll through Borough Market after alighting at London Bridge will take you straight there. I booked on the web site, and accidentally booked twice. The money was very quickly refunded to me. Top marks for this.
We were on the first 'tour' of the day (11am), which kicked off with a very friendly wine expert conducting a quick 15-minute session on 'how to taste wine'. I'm not wine buff so I found this very informative, and very well structured. We were also given tasting notebooks to jot down any observations on the wine we sampled, which I thought was a nice touch.
From here, it's into the 'tour', which I have put in parenthesis because it is not a tour in the traditional, guided sense, but one that you undertake yourself. You can taste wines from all around the world, including some from unexpected corners of the globe - when we were there, red wines from Lebanon and Thailand were on offer. Each bottle has a tag which tells you the flavours you should be spotting if you paid attention during the tutorial! This provided a bit of entertainment among our group, and certainly separated the experts from the greenhorns.
Each section has exhibits from that particular drink's history, plus the kind of informative and entertaining snapshots of information you would see in a museum. Did you know, for example, that port became popular in England because the war with France reduced the availability of red wine, and that the standard of freely-imported Portuguese wine was so low that it was necessary to 'fortify' it with brandy?
The whiskey table was pretty good as the two selections were polar opposites on the 'taste table' and neatly illustrated the wide range of flavours within that particular drink. The differences between the two absinthes were harder to make out, but the exhibit was still worthwhile, providing as it did some interesting information on the 'green fairy'.
We completed our tour with a Bombay Sapphire cocktail - there are three to choose from, I opted for the coconut-based one, which tasted just like a pina colada - in the futuristic gin lounge.
There was a wine shop attached to the building but we did not visit this. Presumably this is where you can purchase any wines you have enjoyed on the tour.
All in all, I would heartily recommend a trip to Vinopolis, but I would say the tour we did was quite 'heavy' and left us all slightly on the tipsy side once it had been completed. There is something for everyone but this venue is best suited for wine lovers, and I don't think it has any pretensions that it is aimed at any audience but that.