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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, exempli 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)
It's best known for its 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 quali 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 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/ ve-week course)
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
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
Berry Bros & Rudd
Perhaps the best-known independent wine merchant in the
country, Berry Bros 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)
WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust)
The granddaddy of wine educators. Anyone who is serious about
wine education will have a WSET quali 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 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 quali cation
Price: £145/£385/£665/£1,635 (Levels 1/2/3/4)
ONE�DAY EVENTS ARE OFTEN THEMED
AROUND A PARTICULAR COUNTRY OR
REGION, SUCH AS ITALY OR THE RHONE
Rudd wine tasting
PHOTOS: MICK HUTSON, ROB LAWSON PHOTOGRAPHY, JIMMY POOLE