Quaff Fine Wine Merchant was founded in 2005 as the brainchild of Toby Peirce. Toby's early adulthood was spent playing professional cricket, and this took him to Stellenbosch in South Africa in the English winters. Here he played cricket, coached schoolchildren, met his wife, and drank an intemperate amount of wine with the sporting sons of local producers and growers. This inevitably led to a career in wine when cricket finished, and Toby worked for a UK-based agent for a leading Champagne house, selling to the likes of everyone from Gordon Ramsay to Tesco. Having gleaned enough from this experience to set out on his own, he opened the first Quaff in Portland Road, Hove in 2005. The second shop was opened in early 2010 in partnership with Ronnie Janssen who has been immersed in the wine trade since he turned 18, having worked for the likes of Moet et Chandon, Lanson, Penfolds, and Lapostolle where he currently works.
Nowadays we supply our customers with wines, mostly from small producers, that they won’t find in other shops. We don’t have a regional speciality. We don’t try to be overtly organic or biodynamic, although we find that a lot of our wines by coincidence tend to be made with less intervention in the winemaking process, and are thus more ‘natural’. Our aim is that regardless of style, region, colour or price point, we are offering you the best product available. We taste hard and often to ensure this is so. Each wine should be an archetype of that style; typical of the region, the vintage and showing the passion of the producer. We offer what we consider to be benchmark examples so that you are safe in the knowledge that what you are drinking is as it should be. The vast majority of our work is done by listening carefully to you, the customer, and making a recommendation accordingly, and we take this skill as seriously as selecting the wines themselves.
Come and try us out.
It’s all his idea. If you have an issue with anything at Quaff, please complain to Toby@quaffwine.com. He will listen carefully and then most likely pass it smoothly on to Fabien to fix.
Fabien has a highly skilled background of a decade’s experience spent as Head Sommelier at such luminary Michelin-starred establishments as Hakkasan and Gary Rhodes’ restaurants. He eventually became worn down by the hours, especially when he moved with his wife (then girlfriend) to the coast where she’d just got a job running Jamie Oliver’s new place (more name dropping, clang). Thus he came to work with us in 2008. Fab’s foodie background means that if you are in need of a recommendation to match with your meal, he will tell you not just the wine you need, but will also lecture you on the method and temperature of serving, and what’s missing from your recipe. Fabien is French. His Gallic charms are in high demand. However, being French, his wife is younger, taller, blonder, thinner and better looking than him.
Matt joined us in the summer of 2013 having previously spent a couple of years at the mighty Hedonism wine shop in London. Hedonism is the vinous plaything of a Russian Oligarch, so they routinely stock all sorts of iconic wines in outrageous bottle sizes that cost the same as a small house in Hull. "It's nice to be back selling real wine to real people...", was his comment on joining us, "...rather than arguing exactly which vintage of Latour is the best!" Yes, well, we know what you mean, Matt. Kind of.
Sarah also joined us in the summer of 2013. Having travelled around several wine merchants in her youth (she's asked me to say she's just turned 30, not 90, as 'in her youth' makes her sound like she's an old maid), she latterly spent time managing people in hotels and restaurants, which is never a good idea, so she's back to her roots now with us. As a Scot, Sarah knows more than most about the whisky section, and she debunks a few stereotypes by being the healthiest person we know in the wine trade, with all her vegetariansim and active lifestyle shtick. So much for deep fried Mars bars and Buckfast then..
Dan came along in 2014 as our latest part-timer from the very famous wine school of Plumpton college. We love having him here, because he is always there to do all the rubbish shifts no one else wants to do. So if you are ever around late on a Friday night, or heading to the beach on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Dan will be on hand to try out his vast knowledge of wine, wine making, chemistry etc.