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Thierry Tomasin, head sommelier, Angelus

Published:  08 February, 2012

Surprisingly despite the economic doom and gloom, Champagne was one of the biggest sellers here throughout Christmas and New Year.

Perhaps not the big brand names, but our house Champagne was flying out fast. I think people were trying rid themselves of the flavour of recession, by saying let's chill-out, relax and get a little bit drunk. A lot of people were also buying sparkling wine. The amount people drink hasn't gone down, instead their drinking habits have moved towards better and wiser choices. People are asking far more for recommendations, which is really refreshing for us, especially from the younger generation in the 25-45 age group. They listen to what you're saying and want to know more. People are also beginning to realise that sommeliers are not just there to take your money. It's a good feeling to realise they appreciate what you do and are happy to ask for recommendations, it makes our job far more interesting and fun.

There is a lot of good value wines coming from the South France at the moment and people are noticing it is far better value than Bordeaux. We have some Languedoc Roussillon 2001-205 vintages that are maturing very nicely and are on at a reasonable price at around the £30-£50 mark. We've had a lot more take out requests too. I think the 2012 trends will move toward wines with a more delicate structure and away from heavy tannins. People want something to lift them and make them smile at the table, rather than the reverse. Seasons are becoming much more important in the industry and consumers are also beginning to understand the benefits of working with seasonal produce and drinking seasonal wines. A lot of that is to do with television programmes and newspaper articles. I

f you are honest in what you give your customers, recession isn't an issue to them, they will continue to come and support you. What's important to them is honesty, combined with quality food, freshness and good service.