Tivoli Wines Wine Library Head Upstairs
The Longer Read It’s stretching things (a lot) to say that Tivoli Wines is a bar. However, the wine library upstairs at this wine shop is one of Cheltenham’s lesser-known good things, and that’s what we’re here to celebrate.
Tivoli Wines is a well above-average wine shop on that Tivoli row of shops that are worth exploring – including Salt Waters cafe. This wine shop has been around for quite a while. It has a good rep – something that the previous owners built steadily and the new owners are friendly and enthusiastic types, with some interesting wines for sale off the shelves.
We’re here to talk about the upstairs Wine Library. It sounds a tad pretentious but is in fact a no-nonsense area where you can, thanks to some handy tech, try wines which you might not otherwise get to experience. It’s also a space that you could book for wine tastings, might be fun if you’re involved in a local club or society. Finally, keep an eye open for their tutored tasting evenings which range from a serious look at, say, Cab Sauve to a, presumably less structured, cricket-inspired New Zealand v Australia evening.
Back to the Wine Library
Head upstairs to a room with comfortable chair, sofas and, pleasingly, a couple of chandeliers. To use this space you load up a card with credit, which then allows you to sample wines at will. The card is usable over as many visits as you still have credit for and the cost of your selections are automatically deducted. The size of your sample can be 25ml or 75ml – or 125ml. 125ml is basically a glass of wine , about a unit of alcohol.
You serve yourself from the machines that line one wall. These are ‘Enomatic’ tasting machines, purpose-made to allow, usually restaurants, to pour fine wines by the glass. Enomatics use an inert gas to preserve wine. They have their critics, but those are, ahem, often the sort of people who regard ordering wine from anything other than a sommelier as déclassé.
Enomatics are expensive bits of kit and it’s impressive that they offer 32 wines here. To increase that offering still further, The Tivoli Wines Wine Library offers some other wines using the Coravin system. This is basically a long needle that extracts wine through cork and replaces it with a little argon gas.
Prices and Wines at Tivoli Wines
Most wines are £3-6 for a 125ml glass. Sample sizes start at less than a pound and the chances are that you’ll discover some new wines to buy downstairs in the wine shop. That said there is also the opportunity to experience some of the greats from the Coravin list. When we last visited, that list included a 2003 Chateau d’Yquem (£20), a couple of SuperTuscans, including a Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia (£19), 2007 Opus One (£30) and a Chateau Palmer (£25). Those prices are for a 50ml sample. It might seem expensive, but then I’ve only ever been able to afford to buy a half bottle of any of those wines, so the Wine Library offers a new way to see what all the fuss is about.
We think that there’s a lot to be said for not buying wine in a supermarket. Why not load up a card here and find some new favourites, buy them downstairs and feel good about yourself? By the way, the owners seem always happy to let you have a look around upstairs.