This 'try before you buy' style of wine selection means you no longer have to choose by the prettiest label or the supermarket special offers. Small vineyards and wine producers, or excellent vintages, are now accessible to all.
How It Works
To use the machines, you first need to buy a Sampler Card - a plastic charge card - that you can reuse and add credit to whenever you visit. You need to start with at least £10.
Unlike a wine tasting event, you are now free to choose which wines you want to try, in whichever order you prefer, and you don't feel intimidated by an 'expert' awaiting your response.
Grab a glass, put your card in the machine, and press the button above the bottle of your choice. It's that simple. You can choose 3 sizes of sample but it's best to stick to the smallest as you can always get more. Samples start from a surprisingly low 35p. You can spit (spittoons provided) or swallow (like most Londoners - why would we waste it?)
The credit on your Sampler Card can be used for return visits or be put towards a wine purchase which obviously makes sense as the whole point of trying is to help you choose the right wine to take home.
About The Sampler
The Sampler opened in Islington in December 2006 and has been a hit ever since. It's won many awards and it's clear they've hit on a winning formula. They are Jamie and Dawn, a couple passionate about wine who spend a lot of time travelling and researching the wines for the store.
Buying wine can be quite an intimidating business yet The Sampler feels much more accessible than other wine merchants. There's mellow music playing, wooden floorboards, and welcoming smiles from the staff. I've often felt you need to be 'mature' to shop at a wine merchant but The Sampler feels more accessible; like an opportunity to really discover more about wine.
Many customers come in to discuss their tastes and to get recommendations and all staff are trained to help in this way.
Jamie told me he believed everyone has the ability to understand wine and we just need more experience. That gives me hope as good wine is a mystery to me but I'm certainly planning to return to The Sampler to learn more.
266 Upper Street
Tel: 020 7226 9500
Official Website: www.thesampler.co.uk