Kim Batty discovers Borough Wines Beers and Books
It was only a whisper of time ago that going to the America Ground and White Rock area, was surviving the ever-giving iron lung that is Trinity Wholefoods, the fake blood and nose rings of Substance, Hoagies reloaded and of course, Mister B’s, and long may they all live. Now you can’t trip up without falling into something new and luckily, unpretentious, Borough Wines being one of them.
I was invited there for a wine tasting and to try their new nibbles menu, and what with all the delicious free wine and whatever else I wanted, soon found myself trying, without success, to disguise my obvious glee.
“Would you like to try something to eat?”
“Nah mate, you’re alright I’ll stick to tap water and a sticky willy from Greggs”
There’s always that underlying feeling that maybe your Mum’s going to turn up and take you home, apologising for the inconvenience, “She always does this, I’m sorry, it’s because she’s tall, people just serve her, I hope she hasn’t had too much to drink?”
I started off with a dry, crisp Sancerre.
“Mmm, yes, it’s lovely, really nice”
Which of course it was. One of my favourite wines, handed to me as I walked through the door after a laborious shift? It’s hard not to giggle.
“What else would you like to try?”
In my head – is this not everyone? – I think, “All of them”, although even for me, that did seem to a lot to try. I’m only saying the things we all think when we experience this kind of situation, it’s just that you’re not supposed to admit it, because it makes you less of a connoisseur, less discerning and less greedy. But if everybody just dropped the cank and delighted in the hospitality of free-ness, things would be a lot less stuffy and awkward. Just show your inexperience, one can find some things one likes.
“I don’t know,” I said
“Shall I just bring you different ones to try?” said Jess, one of the owners.
“Yes please” I said.
Jess put three bottles of wine in front me, a Sancerre, a Mas Becha Rouissillon and a Gitton Pére et Fils 2012. Then she was whisked off by a customer who had come in declaring “I’ve got a lovely piece of Dover sole and tonight is date night, once the child is in bed – I need a white wine, what do you think?”
“How are you cooking the sole? Are you putting it in a sauce?” Jess enquired, walking round the shop, chatting to the lady and giving her things to try, unpushy, friendly and funny.
The warm afternoon sun penetrated the dirge of our rubbish May, filling the shop.
“ I love Hastings,” I thought, which was nothing to do with mixing white and red.
“Would you like something to eat, while I bring you more wine?” asked Jess.
“No,” I replied, “as I said, I’ve got a can of Fanta from Londis and some Brain’s Faggots to reheat in the microwave, you’re alright”
So I ordered the meat and cheese board and reluctantly swished it down with another selection of super-smooth delicious wines. The Manchego I had was really smooth and creamy, so good, and quite far removed from the hard salty ones, you normally find here. (The last line is supposed to make you realise that I have been to Spain, that I know all about this bit. You know, a semi-affectatious signifier) Jess was whisked off again, to give more advice about Vegan wines and on the flip side, milk stout called Flip-Side of the Moo, then a bloke comes in and says; “Here’s some books I found for Michael, (Jess’s partner and co-owner) “it’s a load of old Beatnik poetry I thought he might like.”
Borough Wines sells limited edition imprints of books, novels, art books, poetry, and all sorts. There are paintings by local artists, just a few. This could be pretentious but – not at all. It’s just really nice, relaxed and a great place to simply hang out.
Apart from the wide selection of wines and beers, there’s the refill system, for the cheaper option, (something I have been known to use, once or twice). You buy the bottle and then you can come back and refill it, for £5.65, from their barrels of white, red and rosé.
Jess finishes labelling and hanging their new t-shirt, which is a DFL t-shirt, done in the style of DHL delivery, red on yellow. It’s to be accompanied by a new DFL beer.
“Would you like some more?” Jess says.
Well you can put the olive and the oil together there. Sitting in
the afternoon sunshine, eating Mediterranean nibbles and chatting to people? What would you have said? Yeah, it’s pants mate.
You can take your booze away, or you can sit in and enjoy it there, for the same price. They also have a club night called “Weird Sh*t4” downstairs. Have a look at their Facebook page.
Borough Wines, Beers & Books. 34 Robertson Street, Hastings. boroughwines.co.uk