A promenader’s picnic


Image: Royal Albert Hall

Image: Royal Albert Hall

May heralds the booking process for the Proms and, with his tickets safely secured, Tom Cave – our Cellar Plan Manager – looks ahead to the season, making plans for essential pre-concert picnics.

I have a propensity for the works of Gustav Mahler and these always enjoy a good representation at the Proms.  To enjoy Mahler at its best, I feel, warrants a glass or two preparation; something of an ‘attitude adjuster’ to mark the switch from work-mode to a more relaxed state where you can let the music truly envelope you.

Visits to the Proms tend to involve music-loving colleagues more than non-work friends, perhaps since the No.9 bus offers ideal transport from St James’s to the Royal Albert Hall and, for me, onwards home in Hammersmith. It’s a delight to take those who have not been to a Prom before, but there is a core of good Berry Bros. & Rudd folk who love classical music and, of course, wine.

The mighty plane tree to gilded Albert’s left, opposite the Royal Albert Hall, offers a shaded location, or equally shelter from showers. Although the hard earth is not the most comfortable picnic site; this is neither the place nor time for chairs, rugs and other picnicking paraphernalia.  We’re only here for 30 minutes or so, having arrived by bus – and ideally a majestic 1950s-designed Routemaster which occasionally grace this route (though a Boris version will do) – bearing chilled wines and assorted edibles.

Champagne, of course, features and it is provident that the company’s Champagne Buyer is a regular member of the party as he invariably conjures up a superior cuvée.  Another associate has a knack for sourcing agreeable victuals, and in just the right quantity, whether from Messrs Fortnum & Mason or Marks & Spencer.

Someone will likely bring Riesling (much vaunted still as the wine merchant’s favourite white grape variety) and whether Hock, Mosel or Barossa this is always well-received and the perfect summer-picnic wine. For me, the food match of pork pie and good, cru Beaujolais is, well, matchless, so I’ll supply a Morgon or Moulin-à-Vent, still bearing the delicious slightly-chilled hue from the St James’s Street cellars. Rosé has its place, but it’s not really at home with Mahler.

Suitable drinking vessels can be difficult to employ, we’re a moving feast and don’t want to be carrying sticky wine glasses into the Hall nor bear them home. Shamefully, plastic water beakers serve the purpose quite well enough and these can be discarded pre-concert in the handy waste-bin thoughtfully provided nearby.

Thirst sated and hunger assuaged we join the audience to revel contentedly in that unique atmosphere that makes the Proms and the Albert Hall so very special.

Explore our definitive list of wines and spirits for summer drinking on bbr.com.