Taste the finer things in life
It's not often that an independent retailer is in support of supermarkets. But Will Baber, owner of The Tasting Room wine merchant on Green Street says that the big corporations are at least part of the reason why his business is thriving.
"Wine is a massive market," he said. "Probably 10-15 years ago we only really had wine on a special occasion or maybe with Sunday lunch.
"Supermarkets have introduced the mass population to wine, which is not necessarily a native drink to this country. Now people think of wine as part of their culture and it is more of an every day drink.
"Supermarkets dictate trends as well, and they are very good at it.
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"Rose, Pinot Grigio, Prosecco – they were brought into our psyche by supermarkets.
"It all helps us because it gets people drinking and it gets people interested in wine.
"As an independent we are never going to compete on price, but we offer something different. We don't sell anything that you can go and get from a supermarket."
Customers at The Tasting Room are actively encouraged to take advantage of the expertise of the staff and to try something new.
"People know what they like," said Will. "And they tend to stick with that.
"We can recommend something different though. There's no pressure – if they want something in particular then of course we are happy to sell it to them, but sometimes people are happy to try something different.
"We have 12 years experience so customers trust us."
Just 60 wine producers supply the shop, mostly from France, Italy, Spain, New Zealand and South Africa and soon a selection from Portugal will be added to the range.
"We are always looking for new wines," said Will. "But we still look for smaller, individual producers, who have interesting wines at a good price.
"We are looking for grape varieties that are indigenous and have a different flavour.
"There is also an advantage in that they tend to be a bit cheaper because you are not paying for the 'label'.
"But because we don't go to mass producers it is not the absolute lowest price, but it is something interesting."
There is plenty of opportunity for customers to try the wines before they buy. There is a popular wine club, with monthly tastings, as well as monthly open tastings.
Upstairs there is a small bar which serves a selection of the wines available in the shop downstairs by the glass, as well as tapas style food and a few larger plates.
Although food is available the focus is very much on the wine.
"We are not a restaurant," said Will. "We are a wine merchant with a cafe/bar. The food complements the wine, not the other way around."
Matching food with wine is Will's area of expertise.
"You can come in here and tell us what you are having for dinner and we will be able to recommend you something whatever your price point," said Will.
"Of course we sell wines that are just easy drinking, but around 70 per cent of what we have is designed to go with food and I think that's an important part of our success and our real selling point.
"Food and drink is far more important to us than it was 10 years ago. We are so much more interested in what we consume and where it comes from and food and wine is evocative of good living.
"Everyone aspires to having a good life.
"At the moment when people are watching what they spend maybe they are eating out less, but they might buy a good bottle of wine to enjoy with a meal at home – it's an affordable luxury and that's where we can help."