I believe wine education is key to the future of the wine industry and so was interested to check out a class at West London Wine School, with its philosophy of ‘wine tasting for everyone’.
When people have a better appreciation of wine they are prepared to pay more for a decent glass, and that means winemakers can afford to keep making those decent, even brilliant wines, not simply those destined for a life on promotion.
So last week, I went along to an introductory Sweet and Sparkling wine tasting class at the West London Wine School which I reviewed for ooh.com. It has its home in the cellars of the Big Yellow Storage Centre in Fulham, an odd choice of venue perhaps but actually its perfect – the basement cellars almost resemble the caves I’ve seen in Spain and are perfect dark, cool conditions for storing wine.
Jimmy, who leads the class, is a fantastic tutor. What immediately strikes me is his youth and his funny hat! – he’s clearly not your stuffy wine type. But more important than that is his energy; Jimmy is exhuberant, animated, passionate and extremely knowledgeable.
The course is littered with interested background info minus all the technical detail which is overwhelming for beginners. The session focused on the taste profile of the wine, the grape varieties used, production methods used and the regions the wines came from.
An interesting, well thought out selection of wines was chosen for the session. On the sparkling side we were treated to a traditional Spanish Cava, French Cremant Rose, a Champagne, an English sparkler and an Aussie Pink Moscato. On the sweet side, we enjoyed a delicious Sauternes, a Colheita Port and a Pedro Ximinez Sherry – three wines made sweet by very different methods.
Jimmy’s pride in English wines and passion for Sherry was infectious – think it is safe to say this is a session he particularly enjoys teaching, I didn’t see a lot of spitting!
I loved the food matching with each wine, so often at wine tastings this is limited to cheese and biscuits and while the classic matches were still there Jimmy introduced us to the delights of Colheita Port with Mango spiced with cinamon and cloves and Pink Moscato poured over a fruit salad – which was truly amazing and massively improved my perception of the wine. To me, that is food and wine matching at its best – when the wine and the food tastes better for having been paired together.
I asked a fair amount of questions, not deliberately to test, but because I was enjoying where the class was taking me and wanted to know more. Jimmy answered all the classes queries comfortably and confidently.
The Sweet and Sparkling wine tasting session at West London Wine School is an extremely informative, enjoyable class that will inspire wine lovers at the beginning of their journey of wine discovery and beyond. Even though a little far from home for me, I’d be keen to pop back for some of the specialist sessions due to the quality of the teaching and the thought that has gone into the programme.
To find out more about West London Wine School’s courses, click here.
I arrived back in Madrid, Spain last weekend after four long months away. I’ve collected a lot of stories on my travels