This is the time of year for self-improvement. Below are details of all the wine courses I know to be running in London alone over the next few months. Michael Schuster's courses with their blend of solid education with informality are always popular. Christie's and Sotheby's tend to concentrate on individual fine wines. The Bank restaurant course, now in its third year and with entertainingly opinionated Master of Wine Tim Atkin, is more informal and seems to have gone down well. See more details of current courses below, and check out my last report on this subject a year ago.
And then there is always the wine trade body Wine & Spirit Education Trust which now runs many wine courses all over the world for amateurs as well as professionals.
MICHAEL SCHUSTER WINEWISE
More information: www.michaelschusterwine.com
Location: Schuster's basement at 107 Culford Road, London N1 4HL
Tel: 020 7254 9734 Fax: 020 7249 3663
Tastings are seated, unless indicated otherwise, and tutored by Michael Schuster. ISO glasses are used, and tasting sheets, spittoons, water and dry biscuits are always provided.
His feb/mar six-evening beginners' course at £175 is fully booked but you could try for cancellations or book for his may/jun course. This course is an introduction to basic tasting technique, and covers the world's major grape varieties and their varying styles from the principal wine producing countries. It covers what to expect from different types of wine, what qualities to look for, how to describe them, and combining wine with food. 40 wines are tasted, with prices ranging £3 to £25 retail; the average price being £7-8 a bottle.
The next six-evening fine wine course is not until nov/dec 05.
This is the course that follows on from the Beginners Course and is based on The Fine Wines of France. It differs from the Beginners Course in that its subject matter is narrower, it can therefore be explored at greater depth, and its best wines are much more expensive. A fact sheet and map are provided for each region, and 8 – 10 wines are tasted each evening with both young and fully mature examples, ranging in price from £8 to £80+ a bottle.
There are places on the following individual tastings:
Southern French Stars wed 09 feb £45
Fine White 1995 and 1996 Burgundy wed 23 feb £99
Ch Haut Brion 1982 – 2000 tue 15 mar £155
Blind tasting sessions (for MW students and others) 13, 14, 15 may £59 each
For more details and a booking form, see www.michaelschusterwine.com
TIM ATKIN/WINE UNCORKED
More information: email@example.com
Location: Bank restaurant, Imperial House, 15-19 Kingsway, London WC2B 6UN
Tel: 020 7379 5088
The beginner's six-week course starts at 7.00pm and includes Tim's lecture, six glasses of wine to taste and discuss and a selection of tapas designed to match the wines each evening.
The Bank Beginners' Wine Course
Six Mondays 24 jan, 07 feb, 21 feb, 07 mar, 14 mar, 04 apr £270 for all six sessions or £45 per session
In six lessons, Tim teaches how to taste wine, read labels and identify key characteristics of the main grape varieties.
For booking form or more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org
CHRISTIE'S WINE COURSES
More information: www.christies.com/education/london_overview.asp#wine
Location: Christie's Education, 153 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W
Tel: 020 7665 4354
Courses are always tutored by someone reasonably high-powered (including, Michael Broadbent MW, Steven Spurrier, Nancy Gilchrist MW, Jane Hunt MW and Anthony Hanson MW) and feature classic wines.
The Christie's Wine Course
This five session course uses the wines of France as the benchmark, but introduces wines from all over the world to complement them. The course covers all three influences that go into making a fine wine: the region and climate, the grape variety and the influence of the winemaker over the final result.
18 jan-15 feb
22 feb-22 mar
26 apr-24 may
31 may-28 jun
04 oct-01 nov
08 nov-06 dec
£210 for each five-week course
Christie's also plan a series of one-off specialist sessions with appropriate lecturer and wines. The first two are:
thurs 17 mar - Italy – Piedmonte/Southern regions with Jane Hunt MW
tues 05 apr - Bordeaux – Leoville Poyferre with Michael Broadbent MW
tues 19 apr - Burgundy – Chambolle Musigny with Anthony Hanson MW
£80 per session
Understanding Wine Day Courses
How to taste, purchase, store, serve and enjoy wine, with Nancy Gilchrist MW
wed 20 apr
thurs 22 sep
£100 per full day
For further details of all these courses contact Judith Pitcher on 020 7665 4354 or email email@example.com
SOTHEBY'S WINE COURSES
More information: Gillian McIllwaine 020 7293 5727
Location: Sotheby's, Grosvenor Gallery, Bloomfield Place, off New Bond Street, London W1
Tel: 020 7293 5727
Top quality wines and highly qualified speakers, many Masters of Wine.
Five two-hour sessions beginning 17 jan
Five two-hour sessions beginning 09 may
£240, or £450 for both Varietal and Regional Courses.
For further details or booking details, contact Gillian McIllwaine on 020 7293 5727