Last week, I was prepping for a staff training at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, doing a dry run in front of the mirror, as one does. It wasn’t just an excuse for some ‘mirror-time’, I do it because it pays to be polished as these prestigious restaurants have huge sommelier teams, all with varying levels of knowledge.
Launching a brand is how I imagine parenthood to be, you lay all the groundwork for the birth, but nothing can prepare you for the reality once it’s been born.
As any new parent would be, at Rathfinny we’re proud of our offspring and count ourselves super lucky with how the first five post-launch months have gone. We’ve brought into the world two beautiful sparkling wines that have been well received and have some fantastic trade partners to share them with.
Initially, we had an irrational fear that the expectation Rathfinny had generated over the years up until the launch might be tricky to live up to, but luckily, we had top journalists and trade figures saying, “wow, thank goodness I like it, it would have been awkward if not!”. Glowing write-ups abounded, which was also the case overseas.
In the words of Nina Simone, “It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new life for me, yeah, and I’m feeling good”. I don’t know Nina’s reasons for being so upbeat, but I do know ours. Having officially released our sparkling wines into the market on the 1st June, and with our Hong Kong launch on the horizon, to say we’re excited here at Rathfinny would be an understatement.
With the launch of our sparkling wines next month and John Bon Jovi bringing out his own rosé, it got me thinking about the current upward trajectory of pink wine.
There’s no doubt, it’s a category that’s had its fair share of ups and downs. Typically viewed as too girly by men, and thanks to the American blush wines, too cloyingly sweet by others. I know that because if I ever used to order rosé whilst out with my friends, I’d never hear the end of it. Guys would have been very sure of themselves to withstand that level of stick that came with it. Nowadays, we tend to go all-in on a bottle of rosé, no questions asked. So, what happened?
Wine and food-matching is like sex and pizza, even when its bad, it’s still pretty good. Wish I could claim that quote, but unfortunately wine expert Mike Oldman beat me to the punch.
What I will say is that wine and food pairing is an art-form, books have been and are continued to be written about it. It’s a riddle, with basis in science yet subjective, with no right and wrong answers but a rule book longer than your arm. There is so much to learn yet it relies on our natural instinct. A complete contradiction, in other words!
Nowadays, I can’t take a bite of my meal without snapping it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter first. I’m passive-aggressively outraged if a dining companion tucks into their starter while I’m still trying to find my best lighting. The #nofilters photo of my Eggs Florentine at an Insta-friendly cafe, which only took 110 dry-runs to get right, followed by #blessed and the praying-hands emoji…is the depressing reality of where it’s all come to. Bear with me, it gets more cheerful.
Putting together the invitee list for our big Rathfinny launch in London, now set for April 2018 (available to purchase in June), got me thinking. It struck me that if this is to go off with a #bang, we’d need to invite some influencers along. Only thing is, I had no idea what influencers were, where they lived, what they did, was I one? I then realised, neither of my twitter followers had ever retweeted any of my posts, so I couldn’t be.
This isn’t a casual brag, but I went to a wine tasting in London the other day billed as the ‘biggest wine tasting in Europe’. It was given by the premium glass manufacturer, Riedel, by the eleventh-generation CEO himself, Maximilian Riedel.
In my delusional mind it was going to be an intimate affair, with me and a handful of other world-class wine writers. There were in fact hundreds of people in attendance, which made me feel so special. Like me, all had been lured by the title of the event, “A Tasting to find The Perfect Champagne Glass”.
I’m lucky in my job as Brand Ambassador, I get to work with some of the most accomplished Sommeliers in the world. Aside from anything else, regular contact with them allows me to build up a clear picture of the London drinking scene in top restaurants. What I can say with the utmost confidence is that English wine is by far the hottest category of the moment.
I’ve always been fascinated by the ‘science’ of food and wine pairing. Is it actually a science, or is it down to personal choice? Are there rules to follow, or is it all common sense? Well, since taking a closer look at my own experiences and talking to various luminaries in the food and wine world, I’ve come to the view it’s a bit of everything.
Since starting as Brand Ambassador for Rathfinny 6 months ago, I’ve been involved in arranging some memorable visits to the Estate. From Sommeliers, Executive Chefs to Restaurant Managers, all have been so positive about what we’re doing, and can’t wait to get their hands on our Sparkling when it’s released!
I’m Rob, Brand Ambassador for Rathfinny. I’m the new kid on the block (wine pun) as I’ve only been in the role for two months, but I already feel very much part of the Rathfinny family.
People ask me what a Brand Ambassador does. In a nutshell, it’s about creating a buzz around the brand, making top Sommeliers drool in anticipation of our sparkling launch in 2018. Then it’s setting the strategy, whipping the distributor into shape and promoting, to become the most successful English sparkling on the market.