Last weekend J and I went to Swinton Park, just outside Masham in North Yorkshire. We had been bought a ‘Wine Appreciation Lunch’ as a gift and booked a weekend away around it. We’ve not been to many wine tasting events, but those we had been to tended to be carnage (in a good way, obviously) so we didn’t know what to expect really.
We’d not been to Swinton Park before but it’s spoken of very highly so we were looking forward to a weekend of foodie appreciation and luxury. We weren’t disappointed. The lunch was great fun – informative and enetertaining with Graham, Swinton’s Sommelier, taking us through a delicious range of summer wines from Prosecco to Sancerre and Chilean Rose to Dessert wines. Following the tasting was a light lunch to accompany the light headedness I was feeling after tasting on an empty stomach.
I would highly recommend the wine appreciation lunch largely because I probably learnt more about wine in a couple of hours than I’ve learnt in the last two years. It covered the basics well and answered a lot of the questions that you daren’t ask like why is Rose pink when it’s made out of red grapes?
The answer, if you don’t already know, is that the red grape skins are left in the juice for a fraction of the time than in the making of red wine.
The rest of the day at Swinton was spent enjoying the fabulous country house surrounding and quite frankly having a bit of a lie down after the boozy lunch (although curiously we actually felt relatively sober). By the way, there ‘s a fully fledged cookery school at Swinton with Rosemary Schrager teaching alongside Swinton’s own head chef. So there’s another reason to come back.
Dinner we had booked in the main restaurant and the high quality of the service and the food continued. We had the tasting menu which consisted of 3 main dishes, with a seemingly endless raft of Amous Bouches, which were all superb. Essentially the dishes were pork, fish and lamb with each dish served up in true modern cuisine style with foams and trickery that were of the highest order. Good job I’m not a restaurant reviewer as I’d get the sack for not taking notes. The sommelier provided a couple of well chosen wines to accompany the meal – both Italian and excellent.
It was typical country house ambience – quiet and subdued, but in a good way – and there were a good number of people dining and I suspect this is to do with the dinner bed and breakfast rate on offer. The kitchen was clearly efficient and the restaurant staff were well drilled and very hard working (one girl working dinner service who had been on breakfast).
Swinton Park is a short distance from Leeds, around an hour and a half by car, and you really do feel like you’re in the lap of luxury. The old style country house vibe makes you feel like you’re a Victorian philanthropist on a shooting weekend at the country pile. The enormous gardens are super cool two with the four acres walled garden well worth a pootle around – apparently there’s a victorian druids circle on the state too, so yet another reason to return.
A wonderful place to go if you’re looking for a treat and a pampering weekend with great food, attentive service and terrific ambience. I’d say Swinton Park is definitely not a budget weekend – DB&B in a superior room is £350 for two – but it is the perfect location for an anniversary or special birthday.