Spring is in the air, which means that many a young man’s and woman’s thoughts turn to one thing and one thing only: the London International Wine Fair and Distil at ExCeL.
A major focus for restaurant, pub and bar professionals will be the show’s On-trade Theatre, which will play host to an array of tastings, talks and presentations throughout the three days of the fair, but there are many more potential highlights. The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux is returning to LIWF this year with a tasting of wines from the 2008 vintage – with invitations targeting sommeliers in particular.
Meanwhile more than 1,000 tasting opportunities are promised at the International Wine Challenge Discovery Tasting, with the number of wines seeking UK representation running into four figures. On-trade specific wines will be separated from supermarket fodder for ease of tasting.
New to LIWF this year – and sure to be a highlight – is the final of the annual UK Sommelier of the Year competition, on Wednesday 23 May in the Waterfront Rooms. The contest, organised by the Academy of Food and Wine Service, has propelled sommelier stalwarts like Gearoid Devaney MS, Matt Wilkin MS and Xavier Rousset MS to stardom in the past.
Tuesday 22 May: 9.30am-6pm Wednesday 23 May: 9.30am-6pm Thursday 24 May: 9.30am-5pm
Royal Victoria Dock
London E16 1XL
How to get there
ExCeL is located in East London, with two dedicated stations: Custom House and Prince Regent, both on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). The exhibition centre has parking for 3,000 cars and is five minutes by free shuttle bus from London City Airport.
The Jubilee Line is recommended as the quickest route to ExCeL, alighting at Canning Town and changing onto a Beckton-bound DLR train for the short journey to Custom House (ExCeL west entrance) or Prince Regent (ExCeL east entrance).