After the last tasting at which my mother refused to spit anything out, I was grateful for the fact that this wasn't an option at London's poshest new wine emporium, Hedonism Wines. Not so much as a sniff, in fact, of the fabled 1811 Yquem comet vintage at £97k or the grandiose Penfolds Ampoule at £120k. However, Tatiana Fokina, the Mayfair shop manager, was keen to impress on us that 500 of their 4,500 lines, including 1,000 spirits, cost less than £30.
I was actually more tempted by the 25ml serves from the four enomatic machines, whose prices vary from a very reasonable £1.70 a pop for a six puttonyos Tokaji to £26.50 for a glass of 2001 Yquem. Two more enomatics were due in for champagne, but I thought it better not to mention this as I prised my mother away from the 27-litre bottle of Tuscany's Flaccianello at £4,123.70.
To lure her away from this two-storey temple to wine, I observed, "There's nothing cheap in this place", to which she instantly retorted, "Except for the owner's T-shirt". Oblivious to this slight on his designer polo shirt, Evgeny Chichvarkin, the owner, and founder of Russia's mobile phone retailer, Evroset, beamed. And why not? Value notwithstanding, the fine and the rare, chosen by ex-Harrods buyer Alistair Viner, are joined by impressive large format bottles, which sit like miniature ships on display at Greenwich Maritime Museum.
In the same week, Harrods' new buyer, Jo Ahearne MW, was putting on a tasting of a fascinatingly quirky range of rosés and champagnes (on special offer until 16 September). Previously at Marks & Spencer, here Ms Ahearne can indulge her passion for parcels of interesting wines too small for M&S.
Among the rosés, I enjoyed the herby 2011 Argiolas Serra Lori Rosé, £11.50, a grenache-based pink from Sardinia with a cherryish-fruit quality and powerful Tavel-like kick. The 2011 Leth Classik Rosé, £15.95, an Austrian rosé made from the zweigelt grape, was delicious for its refreshing rosehip and red-berry qualities, while back in Italy, the 2011 Ca Lojera Monte della Guardia, £17.50, from the Veneto, was succulently strawberryish and elegantly dry.
From an eclectic selection of sparkling wines, I found the La Farra Prosecco Valdobbiadene, £14.95, refreshingly pear-flavoured and satisfyingly dry and drooled over an extraordinary cava, the 2008 Colet Navazos Extra Brut, £25.95, which derives its complex mousse and nutty dryness from an unorthodox dosage of fino sherry. I also loved the deliciously biscuity, champagne-like Bailly Crément de Bourgogne Pinot Noir Brut, £17.50 and the superb, berry-fruit intensity of England's own Coates & Seely Brut Rosé, £37.95. Ah, to be back in the real world of wine.