Elite Meets . . . Michael Sager of Sager & Wilde


At Elite Fine Wines we always like to keep our finger on the pulse of the wine scene and look out for any emerging trends that are pushing the wine market in exciting new directions.

One recent development we've noticed is a handful of wine bars in the capital city that are trying to shake off the old stereotypes attached to wine drinking in an attempt to make it more accessible, engaging and enjoyable. One such wine bar is Sager & Wilde.

Starting life as a pop-up in Shoreditch, Michael Sager soon built up a name for himself through his exciting yet affordable selection of wines.

Fast forward to 2017 and the Sager & Wilde wine philosophy is continuing to gather momentum with a permanent wine bar open on Hackney Road and a bustling restaurant in Bethnal Green. We had the pleasure of catching up with owner and wine director Michael Sager to pick his brains and find out some of the secrets behind their highly regarded wine list.

EFW: Thanks so much for agreeing to have a quick chat with us. We'll start off by asking what you think is the most important element of a great wine list?

MS: Balance, diversity and vintage depth. It has to be concise too.

EFW: And what do you think makes the wine list at Sager & Wilde stand out?

MS: It’s uncompromising diversity. We believe that both natural and trendy wine belong on our list as much as classic wine does.

EFW: So how do you go about selecting wines for your wine list? And how often do you review and change things around?

MS: It changes daily, very often we only buy one bottle of a wine and when that’s sold we would buy a different vintage etc. I base our selections on wines I get to taste when travelling mostly. Nothing inspires me more than asking winemakers what they are currently drinking.

EFW: And do you build your wine list around your food or vice versa?

MS: Food around wine.

EFW: Are there any food and wine trends that you've noticed in the UK at the moment?

MS: Natural wine and Mexican food. Also Mezcal.

EFW: Speaking of trends, after the recent surge in popularity of english champagnes, have you noticed more people drinking champagne?

MS: Negative. People still link it to a premium which in the current climate doesn’t bode too well. I still love champagne though. Especially Grower Champagne from small producers like Agrapart and Chartogne-Taillet.

EFW: Are there any wines from your menu in particular that you find are consistently popular with guests?

MS: At the moment a lot of Austrian and low intervention wine is quite popular. Also Beaujolais.

EFW: Austrian, that's interesting, and are are there any emerging regions whose wine production you’re particularly excited about for the future?

MS: Beaujolais and California!

EFW: For the readers that don’t know, can you tell us how orange wine is produced? And do you find it’s a popular choice with guests?

MS: It is, simply put, a white wine fermented like a red, i.e. on its skins. So its a skin macerated white wine which results in various shades of orange in the finished wine. The wine will often display a slightly tannin backbone which makes it very attractive to pair with food. And yes, super popular!

EFW:Thanks again for speaking with us.

If all of this wine talk is making you thirsty, or if you fancy trying out one of their legendary cheese toasties, head over to the Sager & Wilde website to find out your nearest location and book yourself a table!

Josh Mason (8)