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At home with Decanter’s editor-in-chief, Chris Maillard

In partnership with The Platinum Card® from American Express


Decanter editor-in-chief Chris Maillard has a view on uncorking wine. “A skilled sommelier will show off their expert technique by having the most basic penknife-style corkscrew,” he says. “They would never use anything fancy or mechanical. But most of us need a tool that is nicely designed, easy to operate and very reliable.” Ergo, Chris chooses an oversized twin-lever model by Italian engineers Campagnolo. “It’s the best one of its type and very well engineered – as one would expect from a company that designs components for Tour de France winners. It’s built to last a very long time, faintly ludicrous in size (it takes up a lot of room in the drawer) but extremely effective.”

Clever, well designed, ergonomic accessories enhance the oenophilic experience “but don’t get in the way of enjoying the wine itself” says Chris. And that experience is changing. “People are starting to be more adventurous with their choices, more experimental with price, perhaps trying a different version of something they know they like. The Oregon region of North America, for instance, is now producing some really interesting Pinot Noirs.”

AMEX bottle opener

Corkscrew ‘Campagnolo Big Corkscrew’ in silver, £139.99, by Campagnolo, from Condor Cycles. Paperback ‘Hugh Johnson Pocket Wine 2021: New Edition’ book, £10.99, by Hugh Johnson, from Waterstones.com

Recently, direct-to-consumer activity – new wine clubs and digital subscriptions, online tastings and master classes, virtual cellar and vineyard tours – may have changed our wine drinking and wine appreciation habits forever, Chris believes. “Across the industry, what was expected to happen in the next ten years has actually happened in just one year.”

Wine bars are changing too. Very close to Chris’s east London home is the Renegade Urban Winery and Bar. “While Renegade does make its own wines, this is not a traditional winery – it’s actually in a railway arch. But it is still a lovely place to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon.”

AMEX wine

Decanter ‘The Mature Wine Decanter’ from the Jancis Robinson Collection, £125, by Richard Brendon, from Selfridges. Wine glasses ‘Winewings Cabernet Sauvignon’ wine glass, £29, by Riedel.

◼ Chris rates Riedel Wine Wings glasses, available from Selfridges, and plans to save up his Membership Rewards® points – one for every pound spent – to redeem them on a matching decanter.

◼ Chris plans to visit the US to hunt out new and exciting wine regions, like Oregon, when he gets the chance. A trip like this can be booked by Platinum Concierge, and Platinum’s complimentary worldwide travel insurance will add another level of reassurance.

◼ When in the West End, Chris will be heading to Clos Maggiore, a French restaurant with an impressive wine list that’s one of many on the American Express Global Dining Collection list. When booking his table through Platinum Concierge, the service may be able to arrange a viewing of their cellar, with over 2,500 wines from 18 countries and vintages spanning four centuries.

AMEX fruit bowl

Bowl ‘Origami’ bowl in recycled turquoise blue glass, £35, by San Miguel Recycled Glass, from Liberty.

American Express


Reward yourself

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Call the Platinum Concierge service, on hand 24/7, which can find a restaurant for you and make the reservation. They can book your travel, too; stays at Fine Hotels + Resorts come with benefits for Cardmembers, such as late check-out and room upgrades, when available. And using your Card to book means you’ll also get complimentary worldwide travel insurance.

For more information and to apply for The Platinum Card, click here.

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If you’d prefer a Card without any rewards, other features or a Cardmembership fee, an alternative is available – the Basic Card. Go to americanexpress.com/uk/basic-card/ for more information. Applicants must be 18 or over. Approval is subject to status and Terms and Conditions apply.

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