What’s the best tipple for turkey? Notting Hill resident and The Wine Show host Amelia Singer guides us through the crowded supermarket isles of Christmas wines…
Words: Emily Manson
From the moment we start talking, it’s easy to tell why Notting Hill local Amelia Singer is creating a storm in the sleepy world of wine. Like the Cremant she’s extolling as a cost-effective alternative to champagne at Christmas parties, she’s bubbling over with enthusiasm and style.
From a standing start a decade ago, Singer’s mission to demystify wine and make it more accessible is now really taking shape. It’s refreshing to hear her chatting about wine in such a down-to-earth way.
Not only does she discuss high street wines with passion, dropping in Lidl’s wine range (they’ve introduced new craft wine in mini sizes), which many wine aficionados might scoff at, but she’s sensitive to the palates of people new to wine – especially those Millennials who seem to be much more sensible, less brand focused and sweet of tooth than the label-loving, party folk of previous generations.
As such, she has a new take on how people can enjoy involvement with wine, through interests such as art and literature, and bringing them together with wine.
‘If it’s just seen purely as an alcoholic drink then you lose a huge chunk of its appeal,’ says Singer. ‘But if you put it in perspective of being part of different cultures, lifestyles and different cultural activities like art or opera, then it becomes much more of a lifestyle thing. It becomes the common inter-connecting thread, so if you miss all that then you’re pretty much just a wine bore!’
With straight talking like this and a people’s people kind of manner, it’s hardly surprising that she’s got fans like Jamie Oliver, for whom she’s produced Jamie Oliver’s Drinks Tube, and is contributor to the programme on ITV, The Wine Show.
It’s hard to believe that she’s 30 and it all began just 10 years ago when Singer decided to train in her passion and get her WSET Wine Diploma. Then came her super popular supper club Basement Bacchanalia, complete with collaborations with the likes of Adam Rawson, and from that she was suddenly in demand for tutored tastings and private events.
‘I still do a lot of consultancy, corporate and private tastings and I really love the interaction with people. But everything I do has this common mission of trying to make wine more accessible, so I’ve recently started my Facebook live stream Q&As,’ she explains. ‘They are great, because in a physical tasting there’s only so many people one can reach, but on Facebook it’s so easy to interact with more. It appeals to people who wouldn’t ordinarily go to a wine-tasting, or who might feel intimidated by it.’
There’s one question on everyone’s lips right now for Singer, and that’s in the form of what we should be drinking this Christmas. ‘Sparkling shiraz is really festive and it’s a bit different and fun, but for large parties I would go for a Blanc de Blanc or Cremant rather than champagne – that’s a waste,’ she says. ‘But Magnums are easy to find now and Christmas is when we indulge, so for your own use go for the wow factor.’
Sparkling shiraz is really festive and it’s a bit different and fun, but for large parties I would go for a Blanc de Blanc or Cremant rather than champagne – that’s a waste
Clearly not intimidated by much herself, Singer’s security perhaps comes from her surrounds. As a born and bred Notting Hill-ite, her parents and her sister still live in the area, within a 10-minute radius of each other – and she is as passionate about the area as she is about wine.
‘It’s my stomping ground and it feels like home,’ she smiles. ‘It’s still got that villagey, community feel and I love that I can walk down the road in my tracky bottoms to Speck deli – where I have been going since I was a child – with no one looking at me, as easily as I can dress up and go to my favourite wine bar Negozio Classica. Because I love what I do, my work life balance gets very blurred!’
But she’s certainly not the complaining type: ‘Wine is such a great a life enhancer, for me it’s always wine o’clock!’ It’s Christmas, so we’ve got no excuse either – bottoms up.
AMELIA SINGER’S Christmas Wine PAIRINGS
With Turkey: Try a rich and perhaps oaked white wine, or a young, medium bodied red with lots of juicy red fruits – New World Pinot Noirs or Barbera or Primitivo from Italy.
With Goose: You need a high acidity white wine, to stand up to the fat! Or a high acidity, high tannin and fairly robust red wine like a traditional Barolo.
With Beef: Many red wines will match perfectly from Malbec, Burgundy, to Shiraz, Rioja and Cabernet blends from Australia or South Africa, or try a white wine with good minerality and acidity like Sauvignon Blanc from Friuli, Italy or even a dry rosé.
Top Tip: Many of these reds also have high fruit content and warm spicy notes, which match brilliantly with mince pies too – that’s wine savvy!