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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
6 Jan 2005

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.




More information:

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




More information:

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




More information:

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.


Five Tuesdays:

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



Wine Masterclasses

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




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.


Varietal Course

Five two-hour sessions beginning 17 jan



Regional Course

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