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Going Out

The Bottle Bitches try Fuggles' new wine offerings

by Charlie Bond

The Bottle Bitches try Fuggles' new wine offerings

As Fuggles Beer Café unveils its new wine list, the Bottle Bitches try a trio of tipples to find out how they fare in the glass

There’s a new wine bar in town, and it may surprise you to learn that it’s actually in a beer café. That’s right – our favourite local watering hole, Fuggles Beer Café, recently launched a brand new wine list that’s shaking up the wine scene in both Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.

The man behind Fuggles, Alex Greig, has put together an impressive, but not too overwhelming, selection of 23 wines, including sparkling, white, red, rosé and fortified, with an emphasis on natural wines and lesser known varietals from exciting producers.

We had the privilege of tasting the list and admiring the new glassware
on a sunny afternoon, and can’t stop singing the praises of our favourites. (We also can’t stop singing Blur’s Park Life, but we’ll get to that…)

CARO’S FAVOURITE FROM THE LIST

Vinteloper TN/16 Touriga
Grape: Touriga Nacional
ABV: 14%
From: Langhorne Creek, Australia

‘Fruity red’ isn’t the kind of description that gets my taste buds excited. So, when Kate described this wine to me, saying that she thought I’d love it, yes, I was dubious. But as the Carmenere that I’d originally picked to talk about wasn’t cutting it on a hot afternoon, I decided to give this one a go.

Okay, glass in hand – let’s do this. The smells of red fruit hit me straightaway... Oh, but, is that a hint of pepper? Alright, now we’re talking! A sip and BOOM: A light but punchy, fruity but not sweet, refreshing juice with tasty layers and sensations, offering a great alternative to rosé or white on a warm spring day. It’s sassy, fragrant, colourful, beautiful and spring-like, but also super elegant. Now, pass me that bottle.

KATE’S FAVOURITE FROM THE LIST

Bernabé Navarro La Amistad Grape: Rojal
ABV: 13.5%
From: Alicante, Spain

I’ve been bothering the fine folks at Fuggles Beer Café about their wine offering for years (often while throwing back too many glasses of Blanton’s), so I welcomed this new list with open arms and an open mouth.

Though the label leaves a bit to be desired – especially when it’s standing between two drop-dead gorgeous bottles of Vinteloper – the cloudy ruby red of this unfiltered natural wine had me at ‘hola’. Swiff (swirl + sniff) this, and you’ll smell vine-ripe strawberries and red Jolly Rancher sweets.

The strawberry notes continue on the palate, and make me feel as if I’m enjoying a grown-up ice lolly, with each sip providing a sweet-tart pop of energising juiciness that’s oh-so refreshing in the summer sun.
But at 13.5%, this is one ice lolly that might put you under the picnic table if you’re in for a real summer session, so keep an eye on the number of glasses you tip back – I promise you, they go down fast.

ANGELA’S FAVOURITE FROM THE LIST

Vinteloper Park White Gewürztraminer
Grape: Dolcetto
ABV: 12.8%
From: Adelaide Hills, Australia

This wine is brilliant and laughs in the face of convention with its bottle-top crown-cap, cute 50cl bottle and cool AF label. Park Wine, which comes in a white and a red, literally wants you to take it around the corner and sip it on the grass. 

(literally like you’ve just got a face full of zest) and eucalyptus are unusual but fun, and the lingering herbal flavours and touch of bitterness make for a wine that you’ll want to take your time over.
Oh, and if you’re worried about ordering this at the bar because you look at Gewürztraminer and realise that your GCSE German lessons didn’t cover this, just stick with Park White… Singing it to the tune of Blur’s Park Life is optional, but I went with it.