British Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton is set to launch a new London restaurant that will place an emphasis on wine and offer a sommelier-driven service.
Management at Social Wine and Tapas will be led by Laure Patry – head sommelier at Atherton's six other restaurants. All other front-of-house staff will be trained sommeliers, able to offer wine recommendations to customers. Patry will source wines from around the globe, with a focus on small growers. Many fine wines will be available by the glass.
The site will encompass a wine shop and tapas bar upstairs and a wine bar and restaurant in the basement. Food will include modern tapas-style dishes made from British produce and a seasonal selection of cheeses and charcuterie.
As explored in New Rules for Fine Dining, service is becoming more relaxed across the fine-dining industry, and many restaurants are dispelling with traditional features such as linen tablecloths and rigid tasting menus. On that note, it's interesting to see Atherton place more emphasis on the role of the sommelier – particularly in a more informal setting.
The over-complication of wine, and consumers' reluctance to try new varieties, has been blamed for falling consumption rates, particularly among younger drinkers. Much of last year's Wine Vision conference in London focused on the need to make the drink accessible for consumers through story-led engagement, renewed retail strategies and education. For more on this, see Reframing Wine and Gen Y: Wine's New Consumer.