“We Don’t Do Tastings, We Do Raves”: New Theory On Revamping London’s Wine Scene
The wine scene in London has undergone a metamorphosis – particularly in its appeal to young people. While still synonymous with grabbing a bottle of Echo Falls from a local off-licence and passing it around at ‘pres’ (pre-drinking rituals before hitting the party circuit), today’s landscape is opening up to some exciting new homegrown players. Brands such as New Theory are leading this charge, creating wines with a vivacity tailor-made for the taste buds of the young and the restless.
The brainchild of brothers Charlie and Thom Bradley, New Theory – formerly known as Nouveau – is on a mission ‘to smash down the walls around wine’. Teaming up with South Africa’s top producers, the brand specialises in crafting what it proudly dubs as ‘wine without any junk’ – a testament to New Theory’s commitment to low-intervention winemaking (wine produced with minimal pesticides or additives). The wine is entirely made in South Africa and then brought to and sold across the UK, where it can be found in retailers such as Selfridges and Whole Foods. The current offering comprises four distinct bottles: White Lies (a crisp pinot gris), Love Bite (a fruity red, best served chilled), Pot Luck (a pinotage pét nat, or naturally sparkling wine) and Growing Pains (a medium-bodied red, served best at room temperature).
It’s no surprise that Thom Bradley’s background is in graphic design and art direction. New Theory’s clever branding and playful visuals showcase its bottles alongside cartons of fish and chips, and glasses being poured to sample during the winemaking process, encapsulating New Theory’s unapologetically fun ethos. “The whole point of this is to make it accessible at every point, from the liquid itself all the way through to the packaging,” Thom says. “I always want to make wine people can actually buy, without having to go spend £70 at a natural wine bar.”
A main move from New Theory was the creation of its ‘wine raves’. Conventional evenings of cheese and wine pairings seem to be relics of the past. Now, enthusiasts can find themselves in the gritty embrace of a studio in Hackney or a coffee house roastery, where sticky dance floors and booming beats supplied by the likes of West London’s Next Door Records serve as the canvas for experiencing these wines in all their unfiltered glory. “Rather than having to go to the coolest spots in town, we took the exact same ethos and branded experience and brought it to a wider audience,” Thom says. Described by The Times as ‘the golden ticket of the summer’, the events are typically priced at a modest £26, inclusive of food and a glass of your preferred New Theory wine.
With plans for wine rave number five underway, they are “getting bigger and bigger and selling out faster and faster” according to Thom. New Theory has created a community of people who enjoy wine, but definitely don’t want to be schooled on it. “All we want to do is create juicy, drinkable, smashable wines. We aren’t here to teach,” he says. “You definitely don’t have to know everything to know how to enjoy it.”
New Theory is currently only distributed across the UK, but Thom and Charlie have big dreams to expand globally. Brands like these serve as an example of a shift in an industry once confined to historic vineyards and the elite. New Theory will continue to make top-notch wine, once a privilege of a select few, that resonates with the masses. As Thom says, “Everything you think wine does, we don’t do – apart from using grapes, of course.”
Pia Brynteson is Digital Editor at Service95