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 firstname.lastname@example.org. He will listen carefully and then most likely pass it smoothly on to Matt to fix.
Matt joined us in the summer of 2013 having previously spent a couple of years at the mighty Hedonism wine shop in London, and another London-based wholesaler. He then left us a year or two later to try his luck in Taiwan, rejoined us six months after that, and is seemingly now settled back in his hometown. Matt’s our resident lifelong B&H Albion fan, meaning that a North Stand Chat page can usually be found open at all times on one or other of the screens at the shop.
Sarah also joined us in the summer of 2013. After finishing a design degree here in Brighton, she decided the wine trade sounded much more fun so spent time in various parts or the country working in wine merchants and wholesalers. 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. Her design skills still come in handy for all the sign writing and calligraphy that needs to be done. 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…
Tamasin has been with us for a couple of years; she’s lovely, but also works hard on the Winemaking course at Plumpton, so you won’t see her around in the shops more than a day or two a week.
Harriet joined us at the start of Lockdown 1, having previously been a regular customer, with a four year sojourn learning about wine in Cape Town in between. Alright for some, you might say…you’ll find Harriet working in both shops, and quite possibly hosting our tasting events.
Emily joined us in 2021. Although new to the trade, she is picking up knowledge with a speed that terrifies us old ‘uns. She’s also currently working in both shops.