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The other day, we were invited to join Radio Surrey’s Breakfast Presenter, Lesley McCabe for a good old natter about the weird transition from ‘real life’ tastings to virtual wine tastings during 2020.   Who would ever have imagined how popular and successful they would be, broadcasting via a Zoom platform to anything from a small initimate gathering to literally hundreds of participants. What’s more, Finn (Hannibal’s resident pooch) is the star of the show!Virtual Wine Tasting

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You can listen by clicking on the link below.

I continually stop and pinch myself at the speed at which the world has changed since the early days of this pandemic.  It seems extraordinary to think that it was all but seven weeks ago that I was sitting in a restaurant – it seems like an eternity.   On the other hand, home cooking has never been so imaginative – I’m really rather enjoying it.  What was it today?  Prawns for lunch?  On a Monday no less?  Wow, what a treat!

But what of Hannibal Brown?  Until seven weeks ago, we’d been planning the continued development and expansion of our corporate wine business and label personalisation (check out www.personalisedwinedesign.co.uk) which we’ve grown over the last four years.  But the pandemic put paid to those plans literally overnight, with pretty much the entire nation closing their doors indefinitely.

Then there were our external events – Badminton Horse Trials, the Hay International Book Festival and our own seasonal consumer wine events – all cancelled until further notice – another colossal blow to our revenues.

But then the signs of a silver lining – our newly developed website (thank you 3Mil!), ready and able to cope with an unexpected yet welcome influx in online wine sales.  Could we manage?  Were our systems sufficiently robust to cope with an online spike?  It got me thinking about the virtues of being small and nimble with a great team of capable people, able to react fast to a change in customer demand when all around us we were hearing of larger retails unable to supply, not able to deliver and some even closing their doors.

In truth, the few service issues we have faced were solved thanks to small, like-minded, local businesses jumping in to help out and we thank them and won’t forget them.

We’ve taken massive learnings from this enforced lockdown – the need for imagination, open-mindedness, constantly re-thinking and re-formulating, and never, ever losing belief.  Who would have thought that the idea of a hosted ‘virtual’ wine tasting could become so popular?  Now we have dozens of households taking part.  Then there’s our DIY tasting kits – literally a kit, including wine, with which to hold your own wine tasting?  Simple!  And as for our foray into social media live streaming, who’d have thought people would want to tune in a watch us live on a Sunday evening?  Well, it turns out they do!

People have been so embracing to change, it’s refreshing to see the nation’s resilience in times of challenge and restriction.

Let’s stick together everyone – we’re gonna get through this.

We finally pulled out the stops last week and dipped our toes into the unchartered waters of online live-streaming our wine & food event.  Our chosen platform is Facebook Live and we’re going to be back live on air this coming Thursday for Episode 2, at the slightly earlier time of 18.30 BST.   As these events are unscripted, anything can happen (and probably will), but you can be sure it will be fun, light-hearted and interactive.  We hope you will join us – this week’s wine and food pairings are :

Albarino, accompanied with Salmon & Beetroot Tartare  and

Valpolicello Ripasso, accompanied with Asian Meatballs

Check out the recipes here – and maybe cook up the canapes ahead of the event.

See you Thursday!

Who’d have thought it…  So many of you out there are so keen to get your hands on one of our brand new DIY Wine Tasting Kits! 

Actually, we’ve been offering wine kits for years, but never really gave them a second thought.  Afterall, our REAL LIVE wine tasting events were always so much fun and great customer interaction.  But whilst we brave the on-slaught of you know what, and have had to put all our live events on hold, the ‘Doing-It-Yourself’ thing doesn’t seem such a daft idea.

What’s more, you can compete with friends and neighbours by encouraging them to purchase the same kit – a proper competition that isn’t restricted by the lockdown.

The wine kits’ contents include an array of vinous questions and plenty of entertaining trivia to keep everyone guessing and amused.  All the wines are concealed from view, so no peeping!  Go on, why not give it a go – have a look at the DIY range here>