The Wine Show, being held in association with toptable.com, the UK's biggest event solely dedicated to wine, is set to return to London's Business Design Centre from 22-25 October. More than 13,000 wine connoisseurs and amateur enthusiasts will unite to explore the fascinating world of wine, learn about the latest trends from leading wine experts and stock their cellars with unique wines and fantastic bargains.
If fine wine is a reliable indication, the recession may genuinely be easing. According to the Liv-ex – the wine world's answer to the FTSE – prices of collectable wines such as top Bordeaux have risen by more than 12 per cent this year. They may not quite have regained the heady prices that they commanded during the summer in 2008, but, in September, 12 bottles of 1998 Château Lafite would still have set you back you a cool £4,700 – 17.5 per cent more than the same wine would have cost in August.
While blue-chip wines such as this are benefiting from the survival of bank bonuses and a growing thirst for wine in the Far East, there are plenty of tempting wines on offer at more agreeable prices to bargain-hunters.
I have been struck by the quality and attractive pricing of the bottles that exhibitors are planning to pour for visitors. We've always had a very eclectic range, but this year has definitely seen a growth in the offerings from "old world" countries such as Spain, Italy and Portugal – and from Australia, New Zealand and Chile in the "new world".
The wine expert Robert Joseph who, like Oz Clarke and Tim Atkin of BBC1's Saturday Kitchen, will be hosting tasting sessions in the Coutts private cellar at The Wine Show, offers a simple explanation for the bargains.
He says: "There's a lot of really good unsold wine washing around the world at the moment. Spain will send nearly half of his year's harvest off to be turned into industrial alcohol, and at least one sizeable Australian wine producer is in a precarious financial state.
"Champagne sales in Britain dropped by 45 per cent this year and the Champagne houses have enough surplus stock right now to keep them going for a year. And what's bad news for those wine companies has to be good news for anyone who is looking to buy a really good bottle at an attractive price."
Another trend the experts have noticed is the arrival of high-quality wines from Greece and the reappearance of wines from eastern Europe. Two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new wave of producers is now offering premium wines that withstand comparison with classics from France and Italy. It is wines such as these and examples from little-known regions of France and Italy that are among the most attractive elements of the exhibition.
People are naturally nervous of going into a shop and buying a bottle from a place they've never heard of. What the thousands of people we expect at the show now want to do is to taste and learn something about the wines that they are going to open at home – and maybe to know a bit about how to serve them and the food they'll go best with.
Our big feature for this year's wine show, being held in Islington, is "An Hour With Oz", at which Oz Clarke takes to the stage and leads a theatrical wine-tasting session. Tickets are selling fast. For more details, or to book tickets, go to the www.wineshow.co.uk website. I look forward to seeing you at the show.
Tim Etchells is Managing director, Consumer Exhibitions Ltd, The Wine ShowReuse content