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wine and even tutored wine trips to the Rhône. Head tutor and owner

Jimmy Smith says the school's style is very laid-back, with nothing

too geeky, exempliš ed by one of his anecdotes: 'A student once

said thata wine tasted of leather, so when I asked, "Have you tasted

leather?" she replied, "Yes, it's like biting down on a leather strap!"'

Best for: light-hearted learning

Price: £22.50/£55 (evening/four-week course)

westlondonwineschool.com

FOR ENTHUSIASTS…

Christie's

It's best known for its š ne-art auction house, but the Christie's Wine

Course is something of an institution, too, founded in the 1980s by

wine-trade doyens Michael Broadbent MW and Steven Spurrier.

Christie's boasts an enviable line-up of

tutors - every one is an MW (Master of

Wine), the ultimate quališ cation for wine

bu� s, but wine course leader Nancy

Gilchrist MW is keen to stress that the

atmosphere is anything but stu� y.

She says: 'We sit people in a U-shape,

not in ranks or rows as if they were in a

classroom, and all our tutors have a natural, informal style.'

The course itself comprises š ve two-hour sessions, with some serious

wines on show - one week might be Burgundy's two key grapes,

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, while another could explore the world

of Bordeaux blends. Christie's has also launched a three-week

introductory course aimed at beginners.

Best for: top-class wines and top-class tutors

Price: £130/£300 (three-week beginner/š ve-week course)

christieseducation.com

WineChap

If you prefer to learn about wine with a plate of food in front of you,

then a course from WineChap might be the answer. WineChap,

fronted by Tom Harrow, hosts regular tastings at top London eateries,

with food and wine playing an equal part. For example, Indian

restaurant Trishna in Marylebone sees seven courses paired with

di� erent wines ('Not Your Usual Curry Night'), while Rowley Leigh's Le

Café Anglais in Kensington is home to 'Whose Wine Is It Anyway?', in

which guests battle it out to be crowned wine-tasting champ. Harrow

has also run wine tastings at Duck ° Wa± e in the City, on the 40th

ž oor of the Heron Tower, to talk about the e� ect of altitude on wine.

'The key thing about us is that we're novel without the novelty,' says

Harrow. 'All of our tastings are backed by some seriously good wines.

I don't go into great technical detail, although I'm happy to if asked.'

Best for: learning about food and wine matching

Price: from £35

winechap.com

FOR EXPERTS…

Berry Bros & Rudd

Perhaps the best-known independent wine merchant in the

country, Berry Bros š rst opened its doors more than 300 years ago.

Introductory wine courses (both evening and one-day) are available,

covering practical topics such as decanting, laying down wine and

how to choose wine in a restaurant. However, Berrys really comes

into its own with its specialist tastings aimed at those in the know.

For example, Burgundy fanatic Jasper

Morris MW hosts comparative tastings

of the region's wines, or Bordeaux

bu� s can indulge in a vertical

(multiple vintages of the same wine)

tasting of Château Mouton Rothschild

for £595. Berrys also runs one-day

'wine school' events, often themed

around a particular country or region, such as Italy or the Rhône.

Best for: the chance to taste ultra-rare wines

Price: £65/£195/£385 (evening/one-day/six-week course)

bbr.com

WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust)

The granddaddy of wine educators. Anyone who is serious about

wine education will have a WSET quališ cation of some sort, and

more than 40,000 people worldwide took a WSET exam last year.

Based in Bermondsey, the WSET o� ers a full range of courses (graded

from 1 to 4), with the basic Level 1 course completed in one day

(Level 2 is a good starting point, and can be done in three days; Level

3 in š ve - both cover spirits, too), up to the Level 4 Diploma, which

takes two years. All potential Masters of Wine need to have passed

the Diploma, so this is serious business. But don't let this put you

o� . Chris Kelly, WSET's marketing manager, says that the courses

are 'not all about textbooks' - and a surprisingly high number of

people take part in WSET courses simply for their own enjoyment

and education, rather than with any career path in mind.

Best for: achieving a recognised wine quališ cation

Price: £145/£385/£665/£1,635 (Levels 1/2/3/4)

wsetschool.com

ONE�DAY EVENTS ARE OFTEN THEMED

AROUND A PARTICULAR COUNTRY OR

REGION, SUCH AS ITALY OR THE RHONE

Berry Bros

Rudd wine tasting

PHOTOS: MICK HUTSON, ROB LAWSON PHOTOGRAPHY, JIMMY POOLE

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