The Ham. & High - 8th January 2009
NEW YEAR, NEW PLEASURES.....
From an article by Liz Sagues, Louis Roederer Reginal Wine Writer of the
Rather more relaxed learning come in specialist courses. Way back, when
I first took a serious interest in wine, Lena Inger was a great mentor at
an evening class.
Ever since, whenvever I've recommended courses run by Lena and her fellow
tutors at the Wine Education Service, the feedback has been very positive
indeed. Much of what they offer is in Ham & High land or nearby - centres
include South Hampstead High School, the London School of Economics and locations
in the City, with introductory courses starting this month and next on most
evenings of the week.
Cost of the eight two-hour sessions incliding all wine and a detailed course
manual is £210 and the system is flexible enough to allow students to swap
date or place if they can't make a session.
For details, see www,wine-education-service.co.uk or phone 020-8991-8212.
There are higher level courses and one-day wine workshops too, all an excellent
investment for future wine enjoyment.
The Guardian- 6th September 2008
BRING ON THE BUBBLES
Champagne is Hadley Freeman's favourite drink. We sent her to an evening
It all begins with an erotic whisper. Or, if you're in a less romantic
mood, a nun's fart. "That's the sound the champagne cork should make when
you ease it out of the bottle," explains Sandy Leckie, our teacher,
cradling a bottle in his arms. He pauses for a second, gazing at the
cradled object as if it were an infant babe. Then he uncorks it, so
it does indeed whisper (or fart, if you must) - certainly there is
nothing as coarse as a pop.
" Never shake the bottle like racing drivers do," shudders
his co-teacher, "business and life partner" Lena Inger. Does it
bruise the alcohol? "It's just so naff!"
Lena and Sandy run champagne tasting courses. Which must be a nice line
of work, judging from their anecdotes about visiting vineyards around the
In fact, they met on a champagne course, when Lena taught Sandy - "I
taught him everything he knows" - and they make for a fabulous double
act, one pouring, the other teaching. Champagne is clearly a subject on which
they are equally passionate. In our two-hour class, there is a pause for
a full-on 10-minute debate between the two about what pudding goes best with
champagne. Strawberry pavlova is decreed to have a level of sweetness that
would compete with the champagne. Instead, Sandy suggests, "just have
strawberries with champagne poured over them - very healthy".
Champagne is far and away my favourite drink, particularly (and yes,
I know this is wrong) pink champagne, which is also, I once read somewhere,
favourite drink of Chantelle from Big Brother. "Pink champagne is getting
an increasingly classy image," says Lena, soothingly.
When I first heard about this tasting evening, I imagined it would
take place in an elegant salon or perhaps a dark and woody cellar.
read "Conference Room 5, Skills and Learning Centre", which isn't
so romantic. But it turns out to be apt, because the class, although very
jolly (after testing eight champagnes - no spitting - I can barely walk out),
has a definite emphasis on learning. Sandy and Lena start with the announcement
that Britain is "the second biggest consumer of champagne after France" which,
judging from my and my friends' consumption, comes as no surprise. My other
favourite fact is that you should "always" buy champagne in bulk, "purely
for economical reasons". So very, very true. The other tip Lena gives
is that "usually, the most expensive champagnes are the best - but that
doesn't mean they're necessarily worth the price". Someone asks
about Woolworths launching its own-brand champagne for a fiver a bottle.
face falls several inches in palpable distress.
We note our views on each champagne's appearance, smell and taste. "Look
for finesse, complexity and dryness," urges Lena. I'm still struggling
to think of any descriptions other than "yellow" and "pale
yellow", but others are now bandying around phrases like "hint
of raspberry on the tongue" and "a yeasty scent". I look over
at the chart of my drinking companion, who has tagged along for the evening. "Polished
and zesty," he has written in the taste box for the Charles Heidsieck
Brut Réserve. I think he is getting into this.
Determined not to be beaten, I firmly note that the blanc de blancs
from Waitrose is "very citrus". "So what did you all think of the
blanc de blancs?" asks Lena. "Not very citrussy, is it?" But
no matter. While I might never get a handle on the connoisseur's terms (how
can a drink smell "buttery"? Does butter even smell?), I do learn
an enormous amount, not least that there is, actually, a huge variety in
taste as opposed to always tasting (as I'd always suspected, and this is
by no means a criticism) like carbonated white wine. My favourite is the
Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve (one of the more expensive bottles,
of course) and I feel a small glow when Lena says that it is very popular,
but any pride is quashed when the word "mainstream" passes
her lips. Perhaps the biggest triumph, though, is that after a night
champagne chugging, I can't face any of the stuff for almost a month.
And that really is a result of sorts.
Hadley's tasting was run by the Wine Education Service: wine-education-service.co.uk
Woman & Home Magazine
- September 2007
TIME POOR? TRY A MINI COURSE - WINE TASTING
"Learning abot wine has given me so much more confidence"
39, wanted to know more about her favourite wines, so she signed up for
always enjoyed drinking wine with my friends, but sometimes felt silly
looking at wine lists and not understanding what I was choosing.
The course was so enjoyable and the tutors took us through different types
of wine, from Bordeaux to Merlot, and what to look for in a good wine.
Now when I'm out with friends, they pass me the wine list and I choose the
Erica's one-day course was with The Wine Education Service and cost £110.
For details, call (020) 8991 8212 or visit www.wine-education-service.co.uk.
The Times - Careers Supplement
- January 19, 2006
OUT OF OFFICE ASSISTANT - WINE
Consider the scenario. You’re at a restaurant, the wine list is thrust
into your hand, your client, who is French, politely suggests that you choose,
and you don’t know how to pronounce a single one of the listed vineyards,
let alone hold forth about what they’re like. Sound familiar?
More professionals are now interested in wine as a result of a wider awareness
in the media, better educated sales staff and films such as Sideways, but “wine
choice angst” persists. So why not take a course?
"Our clients generally want more confidence in dealing with their own
clients when they’re entertaining,” says Sandy Leckie, a director
of the Wine Education Service, a London-based wine course which ministers
to some 2,000 students a year, many of them corporates. “There’s
still huge angst — mostly because of the relative obscurity of European
wine labels, in particular French ones, which still inspire a lot of awe.”
For £195 in London (£185 elsewhere), you get an eight-week introductory
course covering all the major wine-producing regions, as well as techniques
and storing. Subsequent courses allow you to cover a preferred region in
more depth, and there are also one-day courses for the time-pressed (£110),
as well as one-off tastings (from £30, depending on the wine).
For further costs, locations and dates visit: www.wine-education-service.co.uk
Sunday Times - Simply Wine Supplement Part 1 -
September 07, 2003
When wine's on the curriculum, Tim Clifford can't wait to get back
A rich golden fluid swirls around 14 glasses as tutor Quentin Sadler
invites students on the Wine Education Service’s beginners course to release
the aromas of an Urziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 1993. Quentin
has helpfully written this long name on the board of our room at the LSE.
Even better, he’s explained what it means. What he hasn’t done
is prepare us for the wine’s smell.
To me, it reeks of petrol, although I’m sure everyone else will suggest “ripe
persimmons”. When several people say petrol — one man even likens
it to outboard engine diesel — I feel relieved. Quizzed by Quentin,
we all agree there’s a hint of apple and lime, too.
Then we take a sip. The correct way to do this is to suck in air with the
wine to release its flavours. Think Hannibal Lecter, liver, fava beans and
a nice Chianti and you have the action. The riesling tastes honeyed, though
Quentin suggests it also has a mineral quality. “Have any of you ever
licked slate?” he asks. Some unusual homework beckons.
If, like me, your thirst for knowledge and thirst are aligned, structured
courses are the logical place to start. Comprehensive ones are run by the
Wine and Spirits Education Trust (www.wset.co.uk; 020 7236 3551), which can
take you from amateur enthusiast to wine professional. The courses of the
Wine Education Service (www.wine- education-service.co.uk; 020 8992 8212)
are more sociable, perhaps because the wines are swallowed rather than spat
The WES runs courses in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester
and London. Over 8 weeks, students on the £185 course taste 48 wines.
Along the way, they grow more confident talking about taste and smell, senses
I soon realised I had taken for granted for far too long.
view recent coverage of WES events in the national and regional press.
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