In Grape Appreciation

Ever wondered what people mean when they say a wine has “legs”? Or what on earth leather and sandstone are supposed to taste like? It’s just a glass of fermented grape juice, right?

If, like me, you usually find the world of wine fairly bewildering and often dismiss the write ups about new vintages in newspapers and magazines, as boring and pompous, then you might like to try a one day Introduction to Wine Tasting course, which I was fortunate to undertake recently with Lothian Wine School in Edinburgh, which is run by Justin Martindale.

My husband and I enjoy wine, but rarely look at the labels. Like a lot of people, I suspect, we  just open the bottle and quaff. However, I was keen to find out a little more about wine production so we could fully appreciate our tipples.

Held at boutique city centre Hotel du Vin, this one day Saturday course was a no nonsense introduction to wines from all over the world. It was an interactive day with a tutored tasting of 12 wines (six whites and six reds.) Lunch was included and was the break between the whites and the reds!  Aimed at complete beginners, the day was relaxed and fun and completely lacking in pretentiousness and snobbery.

We came away educated about major wine regions, different grape varieties, the making of wine, and tips on how to improve the senses. Hint, the nose is king here. Wine myths were duly debunked – decant your wine, don’t just open the bottle and let it ‘breathe’. It won’t. And, probably one of the commonest myths around: putting a teaspoon in the bottle of champagne to preserve its fizz? No way, you need a special fizz stopper. Anyway, who has champagne left?

The tutored tasting of wine was enlightening. How many of us are usually faced with such a large range to try in one sitting? It enabled us to appreciate the wide range of wines the world produces, the infinite variety of tastes and smell and what factors affect the different elements within wine. Have you ever wondered why some New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wines have the aroma of cat pee? It’s blackcurrants apparently. Even as a cat lover that is pretty hard to stomach, but I have to admit a good Sauvignon Blanc is hard to resist, even if it does sound smell a bit like your pet’s litter tray.

It’s a massively interesting subject if you appreciate wine, and is a good way of refining your tastes and finding out what you like. The course also covered tips on buying, storing and serving wine, and food and wine matching .

Other courses run by Lothian Wine School include Scottish Food and Wine Matching, White Wines of the World, Edinburgh Fringe Wines – Off the Beaten Rack,  and if you want to take it to another level, the Wset Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits.

For further information on all the courses on offer see

Contact Justin Martindale on 0131 603 3865.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *