Words by Jane Ryan
Profession: Wine consultant
Ruth Spivey is a wine lover turned expert, whose ethos is all about bringing good wine to the masses. While trying to get everyone drinking better wine she's tried varieties from around the globe, put together menus, not least for Rotorino and Craft, and run pop-up bars tastings around London.
I'm technically a consultant at Rotorino so am here two to three times a week and I'll be on the floor for wine dinners. I won't just hand over a menu and leave. I came up with suggestions, what would work for the concept, did tastings and was ultimately given free reign. In keeping with the theme half the list is Italian and the other half is a complete mix.
Wine can be intimidating so when I'm running wine dinners or tastings I try to through basic tips and explain why you smell it and why you swirl the glass. I always try to use simple language rather than industry tasting notes, because unless it's a scent or mouth-feel people already know then they can't relate or identify it. I want to bring this approach into restaurants and bring better wine to more people.
Bars which focus on cocktails can still have a great wine menu they just need to do a simple offering which takes the pressure off a more impressive list. I like to approach it by having fun high on the agenda - if it's fun it will survive.
My newest project is doing the list for Stevie Parle’s new and third restaurant Craft, on the Greenwich Peninsula, focussing on smaller producers from around the world.
I was just a consumer who loved wine. Before this I worked in the fashion industry but was a regular at a place called Wild Honey in Mayfair and I started working there, doing a few roles, front of house and kitchen until I found my niche in wine. I began doing wine exams and funded a level 4 diploma by myself.
Wine is always something I've found interesting. I don't do a huge amount of travelling for work, visiting vineyards and whatnot, but when I go on holiday it's usually to wine regions - no dry countries.
I really enjoy working events like Street Feast because you can make people more adventurous. When you specialise in just wine it makes customers try something they might otherwise not, they get into the spirit of things and want to go back. In the winter at Hawker House I tried to reflect the food traders so had a different range from the summertime pop-up.
WINE C4R BOOT came from the idea of letting people taste independent wine shop offerings, without an intimidating surrounding. People can come to the car park and taste the wine and go and buy it the next day if they want, you don't have to buy that day. It's making good wine easier to get hold of, fun to taste and relaxed. It continues to expand and I’m looking at not only growing it in London but also around the country.
Wine hasn’t been talked about and hasn't been cool for ages. But it's getting there. I'm excited there is a new energy about wine, that people are breaking more rules, for the greater good of wine. For a while its column inches where down as cocktail's skyrocketed but things are starting to even out.
Red is always my first love. There are a few bottles I'll remember forever, most are red but two or three are white. I get so much pleasure out of red wine, a sad amount. Claret is my go-to favourite, suggesting I may have the palate of a fat retired banker but my desert island wine would always be claret.
If I literally dropped down dead tomorrow I'd be happy with what I've drunk and tried.
The advice I'd give to other women in the industry? it’s the same advice I would give anyone (ie. a man!) - work hard, be normal, be nice and believe anything is possible, because it is.