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Last year, Champagne Louis Roederer encouraged Square Meal readers to submit their best wine-list-related stories and anecdotes by giving away magnums of its 2005 vintage for the best entries. It’s all part of Louis Roederer’s annual Wine List of the Year awards, held in association with Square Meal’s sister publication, Imbibe.
We had a ball reading the entries submitted over the past 12 months. Thanks to your anecdotes, we’ve learnt about new wine lists that punch above their weight, laughed along with stories of sommelier-related faux pas and enjoyed hearing about special wine moments – from proposals and holiday highs to shared finds in strangers’ wine cellars.
The time has come to unveil the best anecdote of last year, chosen from the three winners selected by Louis Roederer’s judges in spring, summer and autumn. These included: an account of a superb experience with the discovery of some top-flight wines at The Square, submitted by Nicole Gregory; Louise Robertson’s story of a wine mix-up that led to a complimentary bottle of inferior Prosecco – to great hilarity from the wine lovers at the table; and the memory of an unexpected birthday present from an unexpected source, written by Shirley Purchese.
After much deliberation, the judges decided on Nicole Gregory’s anecdote as the overall winner for 2012. Congratulations to Nicole, who can top up her cellar with a case of six bottles of 2005 Louis Roederer, which should see her through 2013 in style.
Here, for those who missed it last spring, is Nicole’s winning wine anecdote – rack your brains for your own wine-related story and you could be this year’s winner!
‘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 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.’
As always, our thanks go to Louis Roederer for sponsoring the 2012 competition, and to all of you who sent in your stories. A further three magnums will be up for grabs this year, with a case of six bottles of 2005 Louis Roederer Champagne going to the best overall account.