10 Questions With... Gavin Hills

Gavin Hills, wine buyer at two Michelin-starred pub and restaurant The Hand and Flowers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, talks American-grown Portuguese varieties, pub grub and Lady Gaga.

1. How would you sum up the dining experience at The Hand and Flowers?

A rich and fulfilling journey.

2. Who is your culinary hero?
I don't have a hero as such, but somebody who I admire would be Monica Galetti. We had the pleasure of meeting her when she dined with us. A lovely lady who has come a long way and championed cooking for female chefs at a top level. She creates fantastic food and appears kind and approachable, which does a lot for the fierce and fiery reputation some kitchens can have.

3. Which food trend do you think has had the biggest impact on the UK restaurant scene in recent years?

I’d have to say small plates. I believe it's been a great way to make eating out sociable again – sharing food with your friends gives you all an experience and means you can try lots of foods that you may never have tried. Plus you don't feel so bad for eating so much!

4. Where do you eat on a night off?
I'm comfortable eating at the local pub as I believe home cooked, nofuss food is what the stomach needs. Especially after a long week looking at such great food! Failing that, a great family meal at the weekend
with a glass of wine always goes down a storm!

5. What’s the most popular wine on your list?
We find that English wine is very popular at the moment, something that we have worked very hard to
promote. Bolney Estate features by the glass, which does incredibly well.

6. What’s the most underrated wine on your list?
American wines. We are now stocking a few more unusual producers that have revived Portuguese grapes grown in Oregon and Napa. They are the surprise wines!

7. What’s your favourite wine and food pairing?
A food that suits the guest and a wine that suits their taste. Whenever somebody asks for a recommendation I always make sure I ask what style of wine they prefer – yes there is a perfect wine for every dish, but what use is that when it doesn't suit the guest’s taste?

8. What do you think the next big wine trend will be?
That’s a hard one... I'm always impressed with how English wine is doing. So fingers crossed we keep going from strength to strength!

9. Which celebrity would you most like to see coming through the doors of The Hand and Flowers?
I know it sounds silly but I would very much like to meet Lady Gaga; I have been to a few concerts and think that she is an inspiration to lots of people. When you gain a level of fame, it's nice to do something positive for the world and help others.

10. What is your favourite city?
I have to say Paris – it holds a lot of very dear memories for myself and a lot of shoe prints from me being a tourist.

From her uni wine 'tasting' society to studying for her WSET, Sophia has long had a fondness for all things vinous. So after a few years developing her marketing skills in the financial services industry, she decided to mix business with pleasure by moving into the wine trade. Now she writes, instagrams and podcasts about Bibendum’s portfolio of wines and the fascinating people who make them.

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