Wine and Food
The early days c1900
“A wine haven...small but perfectly formed.”
When James Kirkness opened his shop opposite St Magnus Cathedral in 1859, it was as a wine merchant and licensed grocer. Still owned and run by his descendants, and still in the original premises, we may well be Scotland’s oldest-established wine dealer still in family ownership.
A long history means nothing unless present day standards are high, however. Decanter magazine thinks they are, dedicating their ‘Worth a Detour’ feature to us recently. And we were Restaurant magazine/Wine Australia’s ‘Restaurant Wine Supplier of the Year’ in 2006/2007. Most importantly, our customers seem to like what we do, and come back with requests, comments, feedback and suggestions. All very welcome. As are you!
You are welcome to browse these pages – a snapshot of our winemakers and their wines, our ideas on food and wine matching, and our wine blog which features notes on new arrivals, news about forthcoming events and general wine-related musings. And you are very welcome to visit our shop, Wool & Wine, in an oak-shaded courtyard behind the Longship’s jewellery and clothes shops. We are open Monday to Saturday, 10am to at least 5pm in the summer, and slightly shorter hours in the winter.
You are especially welcome to attend one or more event at our annual Orkney Fine Wine Festival in June. We were surprised to find out, after running it for a couple of years, that it’s the only wine festival in Scotland. Orkney’s unique laid-back feeling helps create a relaxed, informal atmosphere, with some of the world’s leading winemakers mingling happily with wine lovers – a few experts, but mostly just enthusiasts – sharing their knowledge and their own enthusiasm.
For us, wine is an accompaniment to food, 90% of the time anyway. So what could be more natural than for us to stock a small range of quality deli goods to complement our wines? We don’t try to duplicate the offerings of the excellent large general grocers in Kirkwall, far less the specialist butchers, bakers and fish shops. What we do provide is a carefully chosen selection of the best quality artisan produce – or ‘imported Continental delicacies’ as our grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents called their very similar selections.
Our range includes:
• Single estate extra virgin olive oil, from various parts of Italy, from Puglia to Veneto
• The best pesto we can find (well, next best to home-made)
• Organic, bronze-extruded durum wheat pasta
• Carnaroli and Arborio rice for risotto (Heston Blumenthal is a big fan)
• Balsamic vinegar of various maturities, as well as wonderful balsamic glazes
• A superb range of Tuscan honeys: Orange Blossom, Wild Carrot, Heather, Sunflower (and Orkney honey in season)
• Parameswaran’s special Wynad peppercorns
• Lavender, Garlic and Star Anise jellies, handmade in England
• Flavoured mayonnaise, ideal with fish and shellfish: Pink Peppercorn, Coriander, Lemon and Dill and more
• Irresistible cakes from Tuscany: Lemon, Amaretti and (our favourite) Chocolate & Absinthe!
A glass of wine and great food simply prepared.
We hope to see you in the shop and to have a yarn about our enthusiasms and interests. Or even better, yours! Till then, we’ll leave the last word to Decanter magazine:
“Fine wine may not be the first thing you associate with the picturesque islands of Orkney. With the wind whistling (as it does for much of the year), thoughts turn to peat fires and Orkney whisky.
But if it’s the proper stuff you’re after, then tucked away down a side alley of the capital, Kirkwall, is the quirky Wool & Wine. What is striking is the eclectic range of wines available, from Roederer champagne to Italy’s Allegrini and Musar from Lebanon. A wine haven.”