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A former head of the wine buying department at Harrods, Alistair Viner joined Hedonism Wines in 2011 and has helped it collate more than 10,500 lines of wines and spirits, as well as making sure it gives a concierge level of service in a relaxed environment.
The Mayfair emporium has ‘the biggest range of wines readily available in store in the world’, he says, including wines across the market – not just the very top. And the emphasis is very much on popping corks. ‘The aim is that people buy it and drink it,’ says Viner. ‘That’s why it’s in the bottle.’
Although Hedonism continues to grow its stock successfully year on year, operating in such a competitive industry doesn’t come without its trials. ‘Trying to replace some of the fine and rare wines we’ve sold is increasingly difficult,’ Viner explains. ‘Unlike a packet of biscuits, you can’t just make some more, though some of the customers seem to think you can.’
Viner says Burgundy is still ‘a hot ticket if you can get hold of the right wine at the right time,’ listing Romanée-Conti, Roumier, Fourrier, Ramonet and Roulot among the most desirable domains in the region. And the best wine he’s ever tasted? A 1985 Morey-St-Denis from Roumier.
‘It was one of those experiences where you literally smell it and you almost don’t want to drink it or need to taste it,’ he recalls. ‘It is sort of perfection in the glass.’