This is the first in our exciting new series of wine courses hosted by our very own Master of Wine, Andy Howard. The course will introduce you to the fascinating world of wine, from the art of swirling, sniffing and savouring, to developing an understanding of the winemaker’s skills.
We’ll show you how to start navigating your way through the world’s mind-boggling treasure of wines. Each week there will be tastings of six wines, accompanied by tasty nibbles in the atmospheric setting of our Study. You’ll be introduced to the key grape varieties and learn how soil and climate can have such a shaping influence over them. Andy and invited experts will aim to inspire us with their love and knowledge of the subject, leading mind and palate on a voyage of discovery.
Over four weeks you’ll be part of a small group (no more than 15) developing your tasting skills, building your knowledge and, no doubt, getting to know some of your fellow viticultural explorers:
Week 1: 26th May
Tasting Techniques - an Introduction to the Basics
- How to view a wine in the glass
- What can we deduce from its colour and what we mean by body, intensity and length?
- What are a wine’s legs?
- Identifying aromas and flavours
- Key components – acid, tannins, sweetness
- What you can learn from a wine label
- Identifying faults in wine
- Complementing food with wines
Week 2: 2nd June
Vines and Viticulture - Learning About Grape Varieties
- Influences on the health and quality of vines
- Why some grape varieties are adaptable and others not
- What are root stocks and why are vines grafted?
- What is terroir, and how important is it?
- Tasting some more unusual grape varieties
Week 3: 9th June
Winemaking - Understanding Different Techniques
- Winemaker’s skills, and the tools they use
- The differences between dry, sweet and sparkling wines
- The structures and materials used for fermentation
- The influence of oak in winemaking
- The screw-cap or cork question
- Differences between wines for keeping and wines for drinking now
- What makes a ‘fine wine’?
Week 4: 16th June
A Tale of Two Grapes - Examining Two ‘Celebrity’ Grapes
- Examining two celebrity grape varieties in detail
- Where they grow, and why
- How they’re treated differently
- Varying wine styles – dry, sweet, sparkling
- The effect of climate and soil type on aroma and flavour
- How much influence the grower and winemaker has on the final result
Andy Howard, Master of Wine
Andy Howard became one of the world’s 300 Masters of Wine in 2011, following seven years of study and practice and the passing of the intensely difficult set of exams.
His passion for the subject began many years before that and lead to wine-tastings with friends, developing his own cellar, making wine in south-west France and embarking on the Wine and Spirit Education Trust study programme. As his knowledge grew he was persuaded to try for the coveted Master of Wine qualification.
Andy was fortunate to have his hobby become his job when he was employed as Wine Buyer for Marks and Spencer. Extensive - and hugely enjoyable - travel followed, from Chile to New Zealand and countless vineyards in-between allowing him to expand an already encyclopedic knowledge.
Andy is now self-employed and busy judging wine, writing about it, educating others and, of course, buying it. Amongst his many roles is that of wine adviser and curator of Wilton’s Wine list.