The launch of simplyspanishwine by two Brits on a mission to demystify the wine world and help expats in Spain get access to great wines from small-scale producers around the country.
Spain produces exceptionally good quality wine at more than affordable prices. But it can be difficult for expats to get their head round it all. With around 150 native grape varieties and terms like denominación de origen or carbonic maceration, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to choosing a wine.
So, two British expats in Spain have taken it on themselves to make the whole thing much easier with the launch of a brand-new online wine store – Simply Spanish Wine.
On the one hand, Simply Spanish Wine offers a carefully curated list of wines for sale which represent the different styles and regions Spain has to offer, and which give wine lovers in Spain access to affordable, high-quality Spanish wines.
But it also acts as a learning resource. Through a series of articles, videos and more, Simply Spanish Wine aims to cut through the clutter and give people a basic understanding of Spanish wine so they can make more informed choices about which wines to buy and enjoy.
The project is the brainchild of Matthew Desoutter and Ben Giddings. They each made their home in Spain many years ago and have been passionate about Spanish wine for just as long. But they realised that it’s not an easy world to get into, especially if you’re a foreign national here who doesn’t yet have a strong grasp of the language.
“When you go into a supermarket, you’re faced with lots of bottles of wine, but very little to help you choose.” Says Matthew Desoutter one the two co-founders. “You can look at the label, but unless you know what to expect from a certain grape, or how one area of the country differs from another, you can’t really make an informed choice.”
“So, we decided to launch an online wine store and Facebook page that make it easier to choose a great bottle of wine. Instead of having a huge selection of mass-produced wines, we offer a focused range of craft wines from family-run vineyards. And our store is built around easy-to-understand resources that help our customers choose a wine that they are going to get the most out of.”
His business associate, Ben Giddings, explains further. “We give people an overview of different grapes, we talk them through the characteristics of wine regions, and we explain a bit about winemaking techniques like barrel ageing. But we try not to go over the top. We don’t want people to feel overwhelmed or talked-down-to. We want to keep it simple – hence the name.”
“And the great thing is, it not only helps people get a better understanding of the wine they’re buying, but we think it also helps people feel more at home here. Five million foreign nationals are currently resident in Spain. By explaining a bit more about Spain’s finest product, we hope we’re helping them to integrate into the culture and feel like they have more of a foothold in this amazing country.”
ABOUT MATTHEW & BEN
Matthew first entered the wine world more than 30 years ago, working at Stephen Spurrier’s wonderful Les Caves de la Madeleine wine shop in Paris. He then headed south to Madrid where he spent twenty years at the British Embassy focused on agriculture, environment and economic issues.
During that time, he developed a broad network of friends and contacts across the Spanish wine sector, as well as a deep understanding of the economic links between the UK and Spain. He also continued to develop his love and knowledge of wine through study and regular interaction with Spanish wineries.
In 2016, Matthew decided to leave the embassy and dedicate himself full-time to the wine world. Combining his network of contacts in Spain, his knowledge of the bilateral trade environment, and his wine qualifications, Matthew set up Desoutter & James SL to export wine to the UK, particularly distributors to the UK on-trade.
Simply Spanish Wine is an extension of that project, focused on bringing the best of Spanish wine to expat residents in Spain. Here Matthew spends his time hunting down great value, craft wines from small producers across Spain, and helping those who call Spain their second home to understand and enjoy a broader range of excellent Spanish wines.
Ben has spent the last 20 years immersed in the world of websites, ecommerce and communications. Over that time, he has built up an in-depth knowledge of both online and offline marketing and communications, as well as a geek-like fascination with audience targeting and analytics.
He has been passionate about wine since his 18th birthday when he was given a bottle of St Émilion as a present and began to realise wine could be much more than just a drink to go with Sunday lunch.
But it wasn’t until he arrived in Spain nearly 20 years ago that he discovered the enormous variety of styles that could be found within a bottle – and the exceptional value for money that Spanish wine represented. Since then, he has spent his free time travelling and tasting his way around Spain.
Ben and Matthew met at the embassy and when Matthew left to launch Desoutter & James, Ben acted as his adviser on all things digital. He is now dedicated full-time to Simply Spanish Wine where he is responsible for all aspects of the company’s digital presence and its marketing strategy – as well as helping to share his knowledge of Spanish wine in an accessible and easy-to-understand way.