Wine and dine: Daphne's celebrates women in wine

Words by
Flora Drummond-Smith

22nd March 2018

Throughout the ages men have been lauded for their work in the wine. Recognising the achievements of women, Daphne’s new wine list celebrates women winemakers

The wine industry has been a male bastion for centuries. And though women are now highly visible in the wine industry, their contribution to the wine world mostly remains under-recognised. With women being proudly championed for their talent in other industries, hearing of the success stories of women winemakers only through the grapevine strikes an archaic note.

Fortunately, in recognition of this, some London establishments including bars, private member’s clubs and restaurants are taking steps to reveal and celebrate the women behind the bottle. One such establishment is the refined Chelsea restaurant Daphne’s, which has launched a special section to its wine list comprising 40 excellent wines made by women.

Daphne's interior

Daphne's conservatory

Devised by Guillem Kerambrun, head sommelier at Caprice Holding’s (parent company to Daphne’s and other smart London eateries including Scott’s, Sexy Fish and Balthazar among others), Daphne’s wine list brings together a stellar line up of wine including reds, white, champagnes and fortified wines from a range of locations from such Old World stalwarts as Bordeaux and Bourgogne to lesser known regions including Kamptal in Austria and Oregon in the USA.

Over a glass of surprisingly light Château Margaux, chosen by the delightful Margeaux heiress Alexandra Petit-Mentzelopoulos, Kerambrun took the time to talk to Sphere about the new menu.

wine bottle on table

Daphne's Women Behind the Bottle

What made you decide to create a wine list celebrating women winemakers?

The idea has been in my head for many years. But it really started from the moment that I realised women were not highlighting their values or talents themselves. 

How do women’s palates differ to men’s?

I think women tend to be more precise in the description of the aromas, and generally have more sensitivity than men. But there isn’t really a hard and fast rule about what might be considered more appealing to women or men. There are so many different wines – powerful and robust, light, deep-coloured, more acidic – to mention a few characteristics… more often than not, it just depends what kind of wine-mood you’re in!

Does the female winemaker offer something different to the wine industry?

Women and men present things differently, that’s the beauty of diversity. Women’s work is often more meticulous, neat and delicate than men’s, although, of course, there are exceptions! I would never just recommend a label to single out female winemakers; we must remember that wine has to remain something spiritual and approachable, not technical and artificially promoted. 

How did you decide on which wines and winemakers to work with?

I never put a wine on a list that I haven’t tasted. I analyse the message of the terroir and the variety of grapes before I am interested in how a wine is made or by whom. At Daphne's, the selection of Italian wines made by the General Manager, Gabriele Esposito and his team was already very relevant. Therefore, it was for the wines from other countries and regions that my expertise was required. From there, little by little, my conversations with winemakers and suppliers led to discovering yet more female winemakers, some of whose labels I already knew and some I didn’t. The more I continue to look, the more I discover. The process is ongoing and fascinating and the list is evolving all the time.

Daphne's Women Behind the Bottle

Daphne's Women Behind the Bottle

How do you think celebrating women winemakers is changing the wine industry?

The wine industry has been seemingly male-dominated for so long that it really is important to open people’s eyes and let them know about the growing number of very talented women contributing to the output of some very special wines. I cannot stress enough that wine is, for me, a symbol of sharing and friendliness. Therefore, I think it is the duty of professionals to make the wine world more transparent. I hope that by highlighting these wines made by women, we can spark more interest about wine itself.