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At the start of 2012, Champagne house Louis Roederer asked Square Meal readers to submit their best wine-list-related stories and anecdotes, as part of its annual Wine List of the Year awards, held in association with Square Meal’s sister publication, Imbibe.
Aimed at rewarding great lists across the UK, the award sees a panel of sommelier judges giving due credit to restaurants and bars that have gone the extra mile with their wine lists (look out for the logo for all 2011 winners and finalists). The wine anecdotes side of the competition sees consumers and wine lovers sharing their stories about favourite wine moments or wine lists that have really delivered, with the best responses winning bottles and magnums of Louis Roederer Champagne.
Entertaining entries came flooding in immediately, with stories ranging from two friends whose bill for a second bottle of Puligny-Montrachet was inadvertently paid for by another table, to a group of novices holding their first wine tasting, and from hospitable hosts showing holidaymakers round their well-stocked cellar, to great finds right here in London.
The judges at Louis Roederer have reviewed all of your comments and have now made their decision. Without further ado, the winner of the competition is Nicole Gregory, whose review of her wine-list experience at The Square made us yearn for a refreshing, chilled glass of white served in a top-flight dining room – if Nicole’s account of her wine experience at The Square doesn’t have you straight on the phone to book a table, we don’t know what will! Our congratulations go to Nicole, who wins a magnum of 2005 Louis Roederer Champagne.
Here is Nicole’s winning wine anecdote in full:
‘The tasting menu at The Square restaurant in London comes with specially chosen wines to complement the dishes, but the sommelier wasn't fazed when I asked to substitute some of the wines on the list. The foie gras usually comes with a syrupy dessert wine, and I hate those, but he gave us a strong red that brought out the flavour beautifully.
There were oaky wines on the list but, like many, I find the taste of Chardonnay types overwhelming, so the sommelier gave us a wonderful minerally white that had all the robustness necessary for the dish, without veering into buttery. He even amended the dessert wine into something lighter: still sweet, but much more palatable. There were explanations and full histories of the bottles, and there was never a moment when I felt like he was arrogantly presiding over the wine like some fine restaurants feel the need to do – more that he was enjoying sharing his knowledge with us. An elegant restaurant and wonderful staff. The whole meal was exceptional and I can't wait to go back.’
Thanks to Louis Roederer for sponsoring the competition, and to all of you who took part. Don’t forget that the competition is running throughout 2012, with further magnums to be won for the best anecdotes of summer and autumn, and a case of six bottles of 2005 Louis Roederer Champagne going to the best overall account.