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When a pub is sourcing food as locally as possible, how much sense does it make to ship in wine from the other side of the world?In a sign of just...

When a pub is sourcing food as locally as possible, how much sense does it make to ship in wine from the other side of the world?

In a sign of just how far the wine market has shifted towards the New World over the past decade, multiple operator Salisbury Pubs has created a point of difference by introducing an all-European wine list to its pub estate.

Food is a crucial element of the four pubs in the group, run by David and Becky Salisbury. The businesses - the Alford Arms in Frithsden, Hertfordshire; and the Royal Oak in Bovingdon Green, the Swan Inn in old Denham Village and the Old Queens Head in Penn, all in Buckinghamshire - describe themselves as 'pubs with dining rooms'.

The Alford Arms was named Catering Pub of the Year at The Publican Awards​ 2005. Across all the pubs, there is an emphasis on fresh produce sourced as locally as possible, such as Oxfordshire pork and Chiltern lamb. Game comes from local shoots and customers often donate fruit and vegetables.

Staff at the Swan Inn have even become adept at foraging, raiding the local hedgerows for everything from wild garlic and mushrooms to fruit such as plums and blackberries.

Customers are a combination of locals who enjoy the village pub atmosphere, and those who travel from further afield to eat.

People were clearly enthused by the pubs' approach to food, prompting David and Becky to try bringing the wine list a little closer to home. David says: "We decided that with a policy to buy local produce whenever and wherever possible, we should just see whether it was feasible to build a wine list without New World wines."

The list was developed with the assistance of Paul Johnson from Great Gaddesden Wines. A list of almost 40 wines, including 28 available by the glass as well as by the bottle, includes wines from France, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Germany, Austria and even England.

Highlights include a Heinrich Red from Austria, a Warden Abbey Estate English white and a list of nine pudding wines matched to the pubs' dessert menu. "The result has been absolutely fantastic," says David.

"We've unearthed some absolute gems, which neither we nor our customers would be able to enjoy had we not made this decision."As a business we wanted to be more environmentally aware by reducing our wine miles as well as responding to the changes we are seeing in our customers' tastes.

"Sales of European wine have been steadily increasing in our pubs. Our customers want to see a wider variety and we want to ensure that whether they just come to have a drink or are joining us to dine, we are able to give them a wine list with options and ideas they have enjoyed before."

While not every customer is concerned about the food miles travelled by a glass of wine, for those who are the move has been welcome. David says: "We aren't trying to change the way everyone thinks about wine miles, but this is our opportunity to actually do something. However small a gesture it is, it is still something."

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