• Jack Smee

R’n’B’s Blog – Vino from the Working Class Kid

R’n’B’s Blog – Vino from the Working Class Kid

Hello there, for those who don’t know me, I’ll introduce myself. My name is Jack and I work at the newly opened The Exeter Arms. If you haven’t been yet; 1) You’re crazy! 2)come visit! If you have frequented or know me from around and have met me, you will more than likely know me by one of the many nicknames now given to me such as ‘rags/ragsey/rag n bone/r n b/the polite guy behind the bar/the geezer who laughs like a girl/the big funny one, or something like that.

Introductions aside and with the bars being closed, we are finding ourselves with lots of time on our hands and my job currently doesn’t exist. I find myself pondering what I could be doing, as you know I’m deep like that. So with a mini push from the bosses, I am reaching out to our locals, and anyone else who has a little time, who fancies learning new things about all things wine (and maybe booze in general), but not as you’ve seen before.

I am not from much, hard working parents, a family of 6 where we had super fun but wouldn’t say the finer things were the norm. Wine came later, my Father was a for Chef most of his life and worked away a lot. It wasn’t until I got older and wanted to earn some money that my interest in wine grew. Like most youngster’s, hospitality is where it began and over the years, by trying new things and combinations of flavours, my appreciation grew. I became a fan of wine and started looking deeper - which let’s face it, is awesome. As ‘research’ in this trade is just getting boozy and honestly who doesn’t enjoy that?! I’m digressing.

We all have different experiences and expectations of what wine is, so why not treat ourselves to those nicer things in life? We deserve it. I’m going help, not being a self-proclaimed expert, (although I recently nail my level 2 wset exam), but with open and experienced based advice to help you find your flavour, pair with food and even enjoy casually.

Let me begin with where my beautiful love affair first started. What do I like???

We all know the usual grapes – Merlot, Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio and Malbec, but why are they common and are there any better alternatives? For me, also what’s the difference between Chile, France and Australia? and why are they all producing the same grape. So, in true Jack fashion, I asked my manager at the time (from many years ago). He gave me such a long winded, confusing, patronising answer. Questioning in his mind why I was ever hired. I obviously wasn’t satisfied with his response, so I thought ‘let’s work this out myself’ - (I’m naturally one of those people that ask a tons of questions). I bought a few bottles of the same grape from different countries. What I found was although they all had similar tasting notes, each country did it in a different style, or ‘expressions’ as the pro’s like to say. From this, the research went on.

So, the general idea if you’re wanting to start getting into wine, is start with the classics. Very much like how a chef goes to college and learns the basics and the classic ways of making dishes. Like a foundation so to speak. Then after the Chef qualifies, you see them wanting to express themselves, or investigate other countries and the styles they might apply to a classic recipe. Wine is super similar. The wine makers around the world have different climates, soil and ideas on how they want their grape to taste. So, with that in mind, they investigate the Classic grapes from the Classic regions.

Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Mosel and Napa are all familiar and famous for a reason. Think of these as the foundation, it doesn’t mean they’re going to be your personal favourites them will help with what flavour profiles exist. After tasting these, you can do as I did, and start exploring the same grape but from all over the world. From there, you may discover that you prefer a more restrained wine or big bold flavour!

For me, I had that ‘eureka’ moment when tasting Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux. Take a Medoc or Saint-Emilion, they are beautiful wines, restrained with classic cab sav flavours, they all have that predominant ‘Ribena’ note, or as you will read on bottles ‘Cassis’. They are tasty, but like I say, while ‘researching’ I found my preferred flavour was from Australia or the U.S. At the time I found myself asking ‘do warmer climates change the flavour of the grape’. It certainly gives massive black fruit flavour instead of that restrained one, its bold, it’s ripe and it’s in your face. This expression of the Classic is more to my palate. It was fun finding out, and now I’m able to find wine I like more easily saving me time and money.

That’s all from me today. I hope this advice helps, and whoever reads this has as much fun ‘researching’ your palate as much as I did. Remember to keep checking our social medias for wine deliveries/vouchers for a wine tasting for when the bar opens back up.


R n B

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