-nearly getting into a fight with three drunk scaffolders when they overheard us ordering beers on the company tab, apparently our paper's coverage of Millwall fans behaviour hasn't been the most sympathetic over the years, and frankly they did absolutely nothing to redeem themselves (I think only my extreme height prevented things from turning ugly when one of them stood up to push his point home - gazing up at me, saying he didn't care how tall I was and then promptly excusing himself to the toilet)...
When the appointed hour arrived we all grabbed our coats and trickled across the road (taking a slightly longer route than needs be) to the venue -
- leaving us standing around in the entrance for a while as they found someone to look after us...Apparently (Flyingpops has been here before on a similar event) normally, you pay your money, drop off your coat/bag in the cloakroom and then are left completely to your own devices, wandering the themed halls -
- completely at will, stopping at the occasional stall to be poured a centimeter or so of a selected wine (don't expect to come away swaying or singing) and reading the signs or watching instructional video footage -
- however, either enough money had been paid, or we looked rowdy enough to merit a proper somelier, who led us to a secluded location and proceeded to talk us through each wine, gently encouraging us to look for the flavours and aromas present in each grape variety -
- we were taken through six bottles in all (shared between our group of about fifteen people), so (as I already mentioned) not a *huge* amount to actually drink on offer, but the atmosphere was thoroughly intellectual and highly entertaining...when we had tasted everything and compared notes we were dropped off in the "Gin Bar" for a free cocktail - the one I had completely changed my opinion about Gin - frankly loathing the stuff beforehand this was actually quite good (lots of citrus), but I'm still not going to call myself a fan...
I think there is something to be said for both ways of enjoying the place, when our tour finished everyone just decided to go back to the pub (there was still money behind the bar apparently), but had I just come to Vinopolis (with no peers to worry about) I am almost certain I would have been lured into the room one further on from the Gin Bar...a large restaurant...I can certainly imagine a leasurely stroll through the arches tasting and sampling aromas and then settling down for a hearty meal with a bottle of something that took my fancy matched to the food...as it was by the time I had run around with the camera (and found the "gentlemans salon") everyone else had already vanished off to continue their evening, so I took this opportunity to bow out (living miles outside of London), grabbed a BK Angus Burger with cheese at London Bridge and headed home to bed...yes, I'm that classy... ;)