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What to drink at Alfi

New Spitalfields Market wine bar and restaurant Alfi offers an Italian-focused list divided between the “classic” and “adventurous”, as sommelier Beatrice Zollo told the drinks business.

“I truly believe that Alfi gives the feeling like you’re on holiday that is not easy to find in a workaholic city like London,” Zollo shared. “We are fully aware that it would have not been possible to create Alfi without the support of our excellent team!”

“We just want guests to feel like they don’t have a care in the world when coming into the venue, the warm lights and the smiles of our team. The two sides of Alfi have been made to be the perfect spot for every occasion, from a coffee and a snack to a gourmet dinner.”

One notable feature of the list is its aforementioned division between “classic” bottles, such as the Cantini Bernardi Prosecco (£39 per bottle), and “adventurous” ones, like the Casa Belfi Bianco Bio Frizzante (£55 per bottle). Both are Glera-based sparkling wines from Veneto, but the latter is a pet nat.

“We have classified the Bio Frizzante as adventurous not just because of the yeast left in the bottle and because of the cloudiness of the product but because of what one would expect from a traditional Glera.”

“The division has been created to emphasise the difference between a more classical recognised wine and another which may not follow a conventional palate for that wine,” she continued. “We have created a division based on the simple question: ‘is this wine a way to rediscover tradition?’”

Another notable feature is that the orange wine selection, which includes expressions made with everything from Austrian Gewürztraminer to Greek Assyrtiko, is currently larger than the rosé range. However, Zollo shared that the list will be “dynamic” and “adapt to the seasons”: “We are planning to add more rosé for the summer season but the idea of an intensive orange list is due to the fact that we love people who come to us to experiment new flavours.”

For Zollo, her personal pick for the opening pairing is a slightly sparkling Riesling with baked scamorza cheese served with sourdough and sauce vierge.

“The mix of crisp-freshness from the wine and delicate smokiness of the cheese creates a really interesting pairing,” she explained.

Posed with the question of what bottle and dish from Alfi she would take with her to a desert island, Zollo quipped that she hoped she could grow grapes on the island, but if forced to pick one bottle, she would opt for the 11% ABV, Falanghina-based orange Calcarius Nù Litr from pioneering Pugliese natural winemaker Valentina Passalacqua (£55 per bottle). “The king prawns with their chilli and garlic oil are the perfect match for its intense minerality and salinity,” she added.

Given the food menu’s relative inventiveness, the dessert option of a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream might seem a bit, well, vanilla. However, Zollo shared that it is all part of the experience: “The idea of the chocolate cake was born during the menu development process, we were looking for a flavour that, after the journey around Italy, will take you back to homemade pleasure.”

For those in search of a liquid dessert, among the sweet wines is a single varietal Moscato passito from Langhe-based producer Cerruti and, also hailing from Piemonte, one of this writer’s personal favourites, a Barolo Chinato.

As Zollo revealed, the list at Alfi will be an ever-changing beast in the months to come: “Our approach emphasises ongoing expansion, with a focus on evolving our list over time. We’re committed to incorporating more wines, collaborating with various producers and wine importers, always with focus on natural and organic production.”

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