I had a night off the healthy when I was invited by the lovely team at Veeno to head down to their Manchester branch to learn about the wines that they produce.
I was a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t been before even though it had been on my radar for a while so this was the perfect opportunity to try them out. If you haven’t come across Veeno yet, it’s tucked down Brazenose Street in a quiet precinct between Deansgate and Albert Square and would be easy to miss if it wasn’t for some fairy lights and a small sign outside. Inside it reminded me of a little bar we found in Venice with dark wood, leather stools, shelves stacked with wine and Italian music playing in the background. Their concept is simple – great wine and food to be shared and enjoyed sociably.
I was treated to their Classic Wine tasting menu – a flight of six wines paired with Spuntini (authentic Italian appetisers). Unlike some wine tasting events, you don’t have to buy tickets, be a large group, have previous wine knowledge or be restricted to set times or days. Their wine tasting experiences are very reasonably priced (starting at £19.99 per person) and can be enjoyed at any time (but booking is recommended).
We were greeted by our lovely host (a cross between a knowledgeable waitress and a sommelier) who took us to our table and gave us an introduction about the vineyard, the various wines that we would be trying and an explanation of the concept of Spuntini. We learnt that Spuntini are traditional Italian appetisers including cheese, cured meats bread, oil and bruschette (similar to tapas) enjoyed either as a snack or several as a main. Each wine is carefully paired with a Spuntini with complimeting flavours. 6 x 70ml glasses of wine were then delivered one at a time, each wine being introduced by our host, highlighting the flavour notes to look out for and the Spuntini to pair it with for maximum impact. We were also left with a tasting card with more information about the wines and the experience was very relaxed and informal no expert wine knowledge needed.
We tried 2 whites, 3 reds and a sweet dessert wine…
First up was a lovely white (Tasari – Catarrattio) paired with bread and olive oil which is made on the same site as the vineyard. I’ll admit I don’t usually like white wine and always opt for a red given the choice but this was very light and extremely drinkable.
Next up was another fruitier white (Inzolia – Giumara) paired with black olive tapenade – although I was already getting excited about ‘the reds’ this was crisp, light and also very easy to drink.
Third was a very smooth red (aptly named their “Smoothest” Frappato & Nerello Mascalese – Glumara) which was paired with salami ham – I really liked this one and it disappeared much quicker than the two whites put together (oops!).
Fourth was my favourite red (the “Elegant” Cusora – Cabernet Sauvignon), it was rich, spicy, fragrant and paired with one of my favourite cheeses – Parmigiano Reggiano.
Fifth was another gorgeous red (Nero D’Avola) referred to as their “Classic” which was paired with the Parma ham, I was in red wine heaven at this stage, already feeling a little on the tipsy side and definitely presenting my happy ‘food face’.
Finally, an icy cold shot glass of Marsala Superiore Reserva to be sipped slowly and enjoyed with a slab of their creamy Tiramisu. I wouldn’t usually order a dessert wine but I literally could have sat there and indulged in that combo all night.
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The wine tasting can be enjoyed informally any day of the week. Just allow 60-90 minutes to enjoy a leisurely tasting experience. Booking is recommended but not always necessary. The Veeno concept is a very relaxed approach!
Veeno Manchester, 12 Brazennose Street, Manchester, M2 6LW
Founded by Nino and Andrea, Manchester was their flagship branch which opened a few years ago, since then things have gone from strength to strength and they now have sites in Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham and York along with two further openings coming soon. All of the wines sold at Veeno comes straight from their vineyard in Sicily (Caruso & Minini) and are available to drink in or take home at very reasonable prices, cutting out the middle man and usual restaurant mark ups.
We’ve already booked back in to take some family for the wine tasting next month!