When we were planning our wedding we were really conscious that everyone coming would be travelling abroad (we got married in the South of France), so we didn’t really want a gift list as such as we felt people had been generous enough in just coming to the wedding.
We had also lived together for a few years already so had everything we needed in terms of home stuff, and whilst I love some of the newer gift list ideas like buying gifts for a honeymoon – we already had ours planned and paid for. However, after telling a few friends that we didn’t plan on having any form of gift list (mainly my parents friends, some of whom weren’t even coming/invited to the wedding- nb we aren’t really mean people, we had a super small wedding) they pointed out that some people would like to get a gift, no matter where the wedding, so recommended at least a suggestion for a gift so as to prevent getting a load of stuff we didn’t need.
With this in mind we started searching for something different, that we knew we would be able to tailor to both our taste as well as the differing budgets of our guests. After much deliberation we decided it would be a nice idea to start trying to build up our wine cellar, as we love wine and thought it would be a great gift to share with the people buying us it.
I wish I could say we came up with this idea on our own but I can’t, it was my brother Oliver (a very keen wine collector) who suggested it, and he was able to suggest the perfect place to help us create the list and choose the wine – The Sampler, Islington.
For anyone not familiar with this place, the best way to describe it is one big wine vending machine. The shop is filled with these swanky machines, that allow them to open a bottle of wine, preserve it so it keeps for prolonged periods of time (as if new) and decant different measurements upon request. You simply load up a special vend card with credit, pop it into the machine and select the size glass of wine you want, it then pours this into your glass and you are on your way. The concept allows you to try wines you may otherwise not be able to afford or sample a new grape before committing to the bottle.
So that’s how the shop works…this is how the gift list works.
You make an appointment to go in to choose your wine, for which they give you a free vend card which allows you to try wine in the shop with out paying 🙌🏼
An expert from the store (they let my brother do it with us as he goes in all the time and they know him) then takes you round with a clip board and helps you to select the wines and grapes you like. If you are a novice they are invaluable in helping choose the right grape, vintage, etc. based on the wines you taste and enjoy- directing you to new flavours you may otherwise have overlooked, and can also help you create a varied list with a spectrum of prices (this was key for us).
This was such a lovely experience, and we were in there for a good couple of hours, trying new wines, and listing our faves (and getting drunker and drunker 😂). We live up North, so rarely had chance to visit London together, but the shop were kind enough to invite us back down again for another tasting session (even when we had already selected our wines) whenever we wanted, a lovely touch I think.
Once you have finished your list in store you leave it with them and they load it onto their website, you are then given a login to give to guests who can go on there and select a wine to buy you (just like any other gift list). You then get a notification each time someone buys you a bottle :), its pretty exciting in a really sad way haha!
Again, like any other gift list after all the wedding festivities are over you arrange delivery of your wine, something I’d consider getting divorced and re-married just to recreate (jokes!) (but also no jokes, I was so excited when it arrived ha!). When buying the wine on the website, guests are asked to leave a message, something we didn’t know about until the wine actually arrived and a really lovely surprise (one I recognize I have ruined fir anyone planning the same sort of this, soz).
The messages are then printed on to cute little tags and attached to the end of the bottle from that particular person. We have left them all on, so that when we come to drink the wine we can either share it with said person or text them to thank them again for the lovely gift.
The tags have also formed part of my wedding scrap book, a really lovely reminder of our special day 🙂
All of the wines come with tasting notes so you can learn a little about what you like as you drink. We picked a selection of wines that could be enjoyed now, as well as some that would be ready in a few years time, as well as a selection of bubbles for anniversaries and special occasions- so it really is the wedding gift that keeps on giving!
I cannot recommend this enough, we have and are still enjoying it so it sort of prolongs the wedding experience, as each time we have a bottle we re-live the wedding day and end up reminiscing about how great it was. I’m sure there are other shops that offer a similar thing, but The Sampler really were amazing. Not only were they super lovely and helpful in store, but the website was really easy to use, no glitches whatsoever and they made the whole process feel really special and exciting. The delivery of the wine was arranged swiftly and at a time convenient for us and the little touches they added such as the tags and tasting notes really made it a special treat and something I would definitely consider for any other occasion (30th, 40th, 50th hahaha).