Wine Tasting With Ellis Wines

TOAST chats to Scott Malyon of Ellis Wines about being confident in your wine choices

September is traditionally grape harvest time throughout many of the world’s vineyards and that can only mean one thing – it’s time for wine! TOAST chats to Scott Malyon of Ellis Wines about what it takes to become a wine expert.

Don’t know your Cabernet Sauvignon from your Pinot Noir, your Picpoul from your Pinot Grigio? Well panic not, because you are not alone. Specialist wine shops can present an overwhelming and at times quite intimidating choice of wines, which is often why it’s so much easier to scuttle in to the supermarket and surreptitiously pick up a bottle of nondescript plonk, but in his role as Ellis Wine's Wine Training Manager, Scott Malyon wants to change all that.

My aim is engage with people in such a way that it makes them feel more confident about their feelings towards wine. I want them to look at it as a glass of something special, rather than just a vessel of fermented grape juice!” he explains.

And yes there certainly is a fair amount of wine tasting involved...it would be pretty boring if there wasn’t!”

After several years of training, talking and trying wine, Scott now leads and develops the training and education aspect of Ellis Wines – one of the UK’s leading purveyors of hand-selected wines from around the world, and distributor and supplier to some of the UK’s top restaurants, bars, pubs, cafés and more. Joseph Ellis started his wine business all the way back in 1822 – an impressive 195 years ago – and it is still run by the Ellis family today.

Originally Ellis Wines was a single store in Leadenhall Street in London where all wine and spirit deliveries were done by horse-drawn carts!” Scott explains proudly.

Whilst we adore grasping hold of the amazing anecdotes and various photographs from ‘back in the day’ we also thrive on keeping ourselves in line with the demands of the modern day wine drinker. Our buyers do a fantastic job of sourcing wines that people need as well as the wines that people want but don’t quite know it yet - we are constantly looking at really exciting wines to add to our portfolio.

Ellis Co

As Scott said, it’s not just any old wines that make the Ellis cut. Their sourcing team travels the world over, keeping their eyes peeled for family owned, small and dynamic producers that share Ellis’ vision and passion. Once the choices have been made it’s then Scott’s job to inform and enlighten the hundreds of restaurant and bar staff that are then responsible for serving this carefully curated wine to their eager customers, ensuring that they are equipped with all the right wine knowledge, and the confidence to go with it.

The training is available to anyone that we do business with - from a large pub group down in the beautiful, meandering hills of Kent to a grungy, grimy and very cool burger joint in Dalston!” Scott explains.

I’ve found that for the best part, people want just a bit more confidence enhancement before anything else. That’s where de-mystifying wine comes in really handy - making feel people at ease by not using unknown, snooty wine lingo and simply telling them ‘lets have some fun with this’. This is not going to be a boring wine education class, instead it will be a fun filled learning experience – with WINE!”

Ellis Wines Wine Tasting

So I think it’s safe to say that Scott knows a thing of two about booze and by the sounds of things he also has a pretty dreamy job, if you like wine that is. So just how does one go about becoming a wine expert? I mean, if I was ever going to consider a career change….

Well, here’s the thing you see…I truly believe that anyone can be an expert in wine” Scott enthuses.

Providing that you have an utter passion for wine, you’re already half way there. However, wine is not just about the juice in the bottle - wine covers so many parts of modern day culture from music and travel, food of course, and sport and wellbeing. There are so many crossovers, so to become a true wine expert I am constantly keeping myself exposed to all of these things. I guess I should also mention that I have also sat all 3 WSET qualifications and also the WSET Educators qualification too - pretty important that!” 

As well as staff training, Scott also teaches WSET courses too (that’s the globally recognised Wine, Spirit and Education Trust, by the way) that are open to both professionals and enthusiasts alike, or anyone who fancies studying for a dedicated wine and spirit qualification to further their career or knowledge. This is something that I personally could definitely benefit from, considering that most of my wine buying choices are based on what the label looks like…

I know all too well that a lot of the time we buy with our eyes - if something looks the part, then our left brain tells us that it ‘probably’ tastes the part too” says Scott.

But the fact, is, unless you know the wine well, then there is no guarantee of the quality of the wine, even if you did spend upwards of £10 on a bottle! Where you can, seek a bit of advice from your local merchant or us an app like Vivino to see how people rate the wine. Or give me a call and I can tell you!

Ellis Wines

As well as my label design-based choices, in the past I have also been guilty of choosing wine simply because it was ‘à la mode’ – last year everybody seemed thirsty for Sauvignon Blanc whereas this year it has been all about Picpoul, and of course a pale rosé is always trés chic (and trés délicieux…) in the summer. Much like clothing, colours and other such trends – it seems that grapes go in and out of fashion too.

Wine is very much like pop music and property - it’s a cycle thing and dependent on what’s hot and what’s not, and that is reliant on word of mouth, social media, TV and radio, etc” explains Scott   

Really though, Picpoul de Pinet for example, despite being thrust into the spotlight this year is quite simply a brilliant glass of wine, for any time of day, on any occasion and any day of the week. And twice on Sunday!” 

Hmmmm yes Picpoul is delicious and whilst it may not be Sunday (unless it is when you’re reading this then – hurrah!) I think it’s time to crack open a bottle. I don’t think I could say that I have a favourite wine - much like food and film choices, it often depends on ones mood. And how could I possibly choose a favourite when there are still so many wines out there that I am yet to try? But as a man that has sampled a fair few, I wonder if Scott has a particular preference.

I can’t answer that!” he exclaims. “I don’t have a favourite wine, but I do have a favourite memory that could have only been created with this one wine. It was an Aglianico - a full bodied, voluptuous and powerful red from Basilicata, Italy. I drank it with my wife in a beautiful restaurant in Siena, Tuscany, with lots of pasta, truffles and parmesan...”

Eliis Wines Collection

Ellis Wines Wine 

If you’ve ever wondered whether decanting wine is worth it, how to open a bottle with success every time or what kind of fizz you should be serving to guests this Autumn/Winter, then don’t miss Scott’s indispensible words of wine wisdom over on TheEdit now.

For more information on Ellis Wines, take a look at their listing in our Little Black Book, and read Scott's expert wine tips to help you select the perfect wine for your next party or celebration over on TheEdit. 

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