On the site of the original gatehouse to Dalton Park in East Yorkshire, the Pipe and Glass Inn dates back to the fifteenth century. After Kate Boroughs and partner James Mackenzie bought it in March 2006, a full refurbishment began, creating a traditional snug bar and spacious dining room. James and his team of chefs cook on average 1,000 covers a week of "seasonal modern British food with East Yorkshire influences". The pub has won many awards. I asked Kate about her 70+ bin wine list.
"The list has been compiled by our wine merchant Simon Kershaw of Playford Ros, after lots of discussion between the three of us as to the direction we wanted to take the pub. The list is customer friendly [and] it does not require hours of contemplation but can be read through in a couple of minutes.
Its categories of style help our customers to rationalise their choice and give them the confidence to experiment and not go for the obvious choice. At the same time the choice of wines means there are plenty of exciting varieties for those who have a greater knowledge or are that little bit more adventurous. They really like the style headings and often comment on how they affect their choices."
- It's quite an eclectic list and every wine has a short annotation. Who writes them? Simon writes the annotations; we just tell him not to make them stuffy.
- Do they work? Yes. Particularly the "softer than the softest thing." This grabs people's attention and sells the wine well.
- Some of them I get, such as describing a Bourgogne Rouge as "light, fresh and firm". But something like, "A veritable cocktail of grapes produce this fascinating wine strictly for the connoisseur" might stop some customers from trying it. Does it? No, absolutely not. We talked a lot about adding this wine but having tasted it with the staff and having Simon talk to us about double decanting it before service and its immense complexity we would hate someone to just not get the wine. I guess it's a bit of a challenge really.
- You use leaf symbols to indicate organic and bio-dynamic wines. What do customers make of this? We wish we could say they get excited but, in reality, most don't care. All the staff have been briefed on the benefits but our customers are mainly there to relax with friends and chat, but we will continue as we feel it is important the wines reflect our passion for provenance and quality.