Friday 30 October 2015

A wine tasting at Bretta & Co Liverpool...

Attending a wine tasting can often conjure up images of stern sommeliers and talk of complex terms which are beyond the understanding of a novice wine enthusiast like me, or at least that is what I used to think, but I am happy to say that none of the wine tastings I have attended have been anything like that. 
In fact the wine tastings I have attended recently have been fun, relaxed and informal occasions and when they are done right, I think there is no better way to spend an evening than to learn all about the fascinating aspects of wine whilst trying several different varieties!
I really enjoy learning all about one of my favourite things, so I was delighted to be invited along to Bretta & Co in Liverpool recently for an evening of excellent wine, food and company.
Bretta & Co is an independent deli and bistro in Liverpool owned by brother and sister team Gary and Bretta Adlen, who have combined their talents to open a deli and restaurant which serves (and sells) fine foods and wines. The all-day menu includes sandwiches, deli boards and afternoon tea. and there is also an evening menu featuring delicious options such as homemade chicken and ham Charter pie, aubergine curry and whole baked fish of the day. 

Bretta & Co serve fine dining style food in a cosy and relaxed environment and they pride themselves on sourcing a superb selection of wines from small vineyards as well as selling a large selection of Vegan wines. Many of the wines they sell are stocked exclusively at Bretta & Co, and the large range of competitively priced wines from countries such as Germany, France, Austria and Italy ensures that customers have a diverse choice.
Co-owner Gary really enjoys recommending new wines for his customers to try, based on what they usually enjoy drinking and his enthusiasm for wine is reflected in his relaxed and informative approach towards the topic, which immediately put everybody at ease. We chatted about the fact that people usually stick to what they know in terms of wines and I confessed to being stuck in something of a ‘wine rut’ myself, with my usual go-to wines being Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Pinot Noir! 

Gary explained that by identifying the wines people usually drink, he can give Bretta & Co customers new and exciting recommendations, often for wines they have never tried before. He also enlightened me about pairing wine with food, explaining that whilst many wines are great enjoyed on their own, they shine even more when they are paired with foods which complement their flavours and draw out their subtleties. He was inspired to open Bretta & Co after a trip to New York ten years ago during which he came across a deli, food hall, bar and restaurant and he was inspired to recreate the concept back home in Liverpool.
It was an intimate wine tasting, with a few fortunate guests and we were seated at a table already set with notes about the tasting.  Gary welcomed us warmly and told us a little about himself and the inspiration behind Bretta & Co. We started off with white wines, which had been carefully selected by Gary and his friend Ian Clarke, a wine merchant and expert who has many years of industry experience. 

First up was a Viore from the Rueda region of Spain which was a pale yellow wine with notes of white blossom and fennel. This was a very fresh and light wine which was so drinkable! Next up was GrauBurgunder Pinot Gris from the Rheinland-Pfalz region of Germany, which reminded me of many of the wines I used to drink when I lived in Heidelberg, due to its crisp nature often typical of German wines. 

As we tried the white wines, we tucked in to a beautiful cheese platter filled with varieties of cheese sold at Bretta & Co, alongside crackers and fruit. A Cornish cheese was particularly good with some of the sharper white wines and the mild nuttiness of the cheese really drew out the notes of the wine.

A Terra Remota Blanco from Spain, was a revelation as it was a blend of Garnacha Blanca, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc which is stored in French oak barrels. This was one of my personal favourites of the whites, with outstanding flavours of vanilla, white flowers and dill with white peach adding a pleasant layer of fruit.
Many of us have tried a Gewurztraminer over the years, but the Rene Mure we tried during the wine tasting was quite something, a medium bodied style with exotic notes of rose petals, lychee and gingerbread. The slight acidity to this wine balanced the sweetness of it well and it makes an ideal companion to smoked fish or meats. I do not usually like sweet wines, so this showed me that some sweet wines can be a pleasant surprise.
A St Laurent from Germany started off the selection of reds with a flourish. A feisty red made from a rare grape, this wine is enjoying a resurgence in popularity across Germany and Austria with a full bodied hit of cherry flavour which everybody raved about. It was great served with red meat, and Gary was kind enough to serve us an excellent charcuterie slate with a selection of cold cuts including duck which complemented the selection of wines. 

The conversation flowed and we were having an amazing time trying all of the wines and learning all about their history and how they are made.
Old School Languedoc from France was a rich blend of biodynamic young vine Syrah as well as Grenache, made from fruit which is Estate grown, handpicked and fermented with natural yeast. This packed a real punch of flavour and it was the type of wine which is dangerously drinkable! I could have imagined sipping this outside beneath starry skies with a chiminea burning away to take the chill off the night. Incidentally, we also discussed that certain wines have a real warmth to them which make them infinitely drinkable in the winter months. It certainly seems like a good excuse to drink more of them to me!

A Terra Remota Red Emporda from Spain was a beautiful dark crimson colour which really drew the eye, this wine is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels and the nose of cherry conserve, vanilla, undergrowth and garrigue was really something whilst the flavours were elegant and complex with a smoothness which continued to surprise long after you had taken the first sip with a finish of liquorice and red fruit.
To round things off, there was a beautiful Le Cerradilla from Rioja in Spain, although most of us have tried a Rioja at some point, this one reinvented the wheel in so many ways. It was fascinating to learn about the estate where this is grown, which has some vines over 40 years old! The wine is aged for 18 months in 225 litre barrels and the winery aims to marry old techniques in wine production with more modern methods. The complex production method really pays off and the result is a superb Rioja which is very fruity and nothing like Riojas I had ever tried before.

The bottle had a beautiful large font on the label and we learned that this style of script had been used for the very first translation of the Spanish language, a fact which certainly appealed to me and took me back to my degree and Masters studies in languages.
I love wines like this which surprise the palate and educate you at the same time, it is a winning formula if you can learn something whilst having your senses lulled by incredible flavours and aromas!
The whole evening was a great success and everybody had such a good time learning all about the wines, many of which we had never tried before. It was a fascinating odyssey through the world of wine, with plenty of insight in to the cultural and historical side of wine. It was so interesting to learn about the old and new methods of producing wine too. I did not know much before about the different ways wine can be produced and aged for maximum flavour, but I learned a lot. I would definitely recommend a wine tasting at Bretta & Co to anybody who enjoys wine and finds it interesting to try new varieties in a relaxed and fun environment. I had such a lovely time and I would like to thank Gary and Bretta for their hospitality.

Bretta & Co
5 Heathfield Street
L1 4AT

0151 709 6369

What do you all think, would you like to attend a fun and informal wine tasting at Bretta & co? Which are your favourite wines?  As always, I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post! 

Until next time,




  1. Whoa this all looks amazing to say the least. Love the idea of pairing wine with food to enhance the flavours! Totally agree - sometimes the combination just pushes it that one extra step forward for a celebration in your mouth :)

    Anna xx

  2. I love the way you have edited the photos, they really show off the food and that wine well! Happy Halloween

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

  3. Great photos, everything looks so delicious, especially the cheese. :) Thank you for sharing, dear! x x


  4. This was so interesting! Loved reading about the wines and their pairings. I love red wine and like to try different countries and vineyards. Amazing post!


  5. This looks like a great place
    Love the experience

    The Bandwagon Chic | Instagram | Bloglovin | Snapchat: bandwagonchic

  6. Umm everything looks so tasty!

    Jasmine x

  7. I have no knowledge of wine whatsoever, but the food looks delicious.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

  8. The food looks delicious ♥

  9. Looks so lovely, it's so great to go out once in a while :)



  10. I do envy you getting the opportunity to attend all this fabulous food event! xx

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

  11. how fun! I would love to join you one day1

  12. So beautiful!!!