How has Passione Vino adapted over the past year?
I always been very snobbish and vocal about e-commerce and in fact, we were just about to (Jan 2020) finalise a brand new website which was everything but e-commerce. Stylish, informative, detailed, cool and professional, perfectly designed, but the first lockdown arrived like a cold shower. Shivering, we had to steer at full speed and embrace e-commerce, not only as a new branch of the business but as a lifeline. Very quickly we changed the site and within days were inviting visitors to click and buy. We added food, deli, a wine box of the month, wine of the week, and the really successful Zoom wine tastings for private and corporate, all of which will continue once we finally reach normality.
What can guests expect from your new virtual party offering?
Zoom tastings have become a significant income for our shop. Zoomers receive, in the comfort of their homes, three full size bottles of wine, and three chunks of cheese, all made in Italy, of course. After the introductions, I mute everyone and kick-start the session, explaining the beautiful wines. It’s very informative yet comfortable and informal, and I’ve noticed that people ask more questions.
What food and wine pairing can you not live without and why?
French whites and Italian cheeses. Vive l’ amour! Why? Think parmesan and champagne. Vin Jaune and Fontina. Puligny and Toma. Just to name a few, but there are hundreds of combos to die for. This is the real secret marriage, the real alliance! Their acidity, minerality, depth, stiff backbone with our delicate, flavoursome, territorial beauties… this is where we shake hands, and fall in love with each other.
Which wines should we be stocking up on this year?
Malibran Sottoriva Cloudy Prosecco and Sandro Fay Valtellina Superiore Ca Morei 2016. Both are small artisan wineries and their wines carry huge wow factor, as well as finesse and elegance, territoriality and class. Both are also easy enough to open everyday as well as perfect for special occasions.
Who is your role model and how have they influenced you?
My dad, simple but wise, a man of experience and knowledge who gained it by living and loving in full. A man of principles and integrity who never gave up, worked hard (he’s retired now) and while we may have been short of a few things, he’s never been short of a comforting, encouraging smile or word. Family first, the rest second.
What item can you not travel without?
Two extra white shirts, and a shoe shiner. You never know…
Where is your favourite place to eat or drink in London?
That is like asking me ‘what is your favourite wine’, and my answer never changes: my favourite wine is the one I will drink next! I have too many. It all depends on the occasion, the food I want and the drinks I have in mind, or I don’t have in mind. For steaks? Hill and Szrok. Pie? The Marksman. Italian? 2 Veneti and or Tozi. Just wine first ? Noble Rot. Gamey? St. John. Relaxed tasty lunch? Rochelle Canteen as well as The French House. Just pints and serious snacks? The Guinea Grill and The Jerusalem Tavern. Special occasions? C London or Hélène Darroze.
What do you like to do on a day off?
Catching up with Leone, my 3 years old, and his dinosaurs, repairing his train trucks, and examining his football and rugby skills. Any time left will be dedicated to food shopping. A visit to Steve Hatt in Essex Road is a must.
Apart from your love of Italian wine, what are your biggest passions?
Fly fishing, mountain hiking, BBQing, as well as football, rugby and the 80s….
If you could choose anyone from today or history, who would be your ideal dinner party guest and why?
Keith Floyd, I just love his energy, his spontaneity, his “no script” approach, his love for life, food and wine! I would have paid to be on a mission with him. Long gone, but I keep watching his videos.