'Think it's a merlot': London Marathon runner goes viral with wine tasting challenge

'If that's not a barolo fire me!' - Tom Gilbey stopped 25 times to blind taste wine during the London Marathon (Credit: TikTok / tomgilbeywine)

Does the idea of blind tasting a glass of wine every mile in a marathon sound like the kind of challenge that would get you lacing your running shoes up?

Well, one wine connoisseur did exactly that during this year's London Marathon, and has described how "honoured" he feels after a video of his efforts went viral on social media, prompting an influx of donations to charity.

Tom Gilbey, 52, stopped 25 times during the race to sample a glass of wine and guess the beverage's vintage, grape variety and country of origin before continuing on towards the finish line.

He posted a video of his challenge on social media, receiving more than three million views and prompting donations on his fundraiser of over £13,000 for palliative care centre Sobell House.

"It's my first experience of this going absolutely mad and I feel very honoured," he told the PA news agency.

"It's just incredible and it's great because that's what it's all about.

"It's for a great charity and they're one of many hospices that just work their socks off to make massive differences."

Mr Gilbey, who is based in London, said the marathon went "really well" as he was spurred on by the treat of a taste of wine after each mile.

"It was hilarious because when you're overtaken by a fridge and double humped camel, you could get really depressed unless you knew there was a nice wine around the corner with some friendly faces to support you," he said.

Mr Gilbey said he correctly guessed the vintage, grape variety and country for seven of the wines, got four completely incorrect and got the others "a little bit right, a little bit wrong".

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Mr Gilbey, who runs wine businesses and events, avoided feeling tipsy by only drinking small sips of wine, or sometimes not drinking the wine at all, and by focusing on getting through the race.

He said: "If they were good, I might swallow it and if they were bad, they went on the road.

"I think the pain of the running allowed me to not feel anything other than the urge to finish. I think it's a great way to stay sober."

Mr Gilbey celebrated his achievement by drinking a glass of champagne after completing the race.

"I was totally exhausted, totally cooked, but it was just such a great day and the atmosphere is just too fabulous for words so really, it doesn't really matter how painful it is," he added.

Asked if he would ever take on a similar challenge again, he said: "One hundred percent not, but if you asked me if I would advise anybody else to do something like this, I would go, 100% yes.

"I think in life, sometimes you get a silly idea that resonates but two silly ideas rarely resonate, so I'd encourage everybody to have a silly idea for a good cause and see what happens."

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