You say Shiraz, I say Syrah: Wine courses at Leiths

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You say Shiraz, I say Syrah: Wine courses at Leiths

With Sauvignon Blanc Day, Moscato Day and Chardonnay Day all giving us a reason to crack open a bottle this month we look at wacky wine lingo and tasting objectively...

May is the month of wine with more international wine variety days than any other month. Some are honoured in just one country, while others are internationally recognised.  This month alone we have excuses to drink Sauvignon Blanc (4th May), Moscato (9th May) and Chardonnay (24th May)

No longer refined to the wine-snob stereotype, wine is becoming more visible, transparent and accessible to all, broadening its reach through social media channels. But could you hold your own discussing the arguments for and against Primitivo and Zinfandel being the same thing? No? Me neither, nor would I be able to find notes of ‘a clove cigarette enjoyed in the rain’ or describe a wine as smelling like ‘a fresh can of tennis balls’.

“It's people’s differing opinions that make wine such a fascinating (and enjoyable) drink”

Describing tastes and smells is extremely difficult, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. So where do you start? Tasting is subjective... or is it?  

Some critics operate as though it is anything but; scoring wines, commenting on their merits, holding competitions and discussions that have moved far beyond the commonplace descriptions known as 'winespeak' such as ‘fruit-forward’ and ‘a touch of spice’. Lets be honest, the number of descriptors available is limited, especially considering the scope of wine, so it’s no surprise wine buffs turn to these extravagant and absurd summaries so as not to bore themselves.  It’s these, and people’s differing opinions that make wine such a fascinating (and enjoyable) drink. 

I actually had the pleasure of taking a number of wine classes, most notably WSET Level 2, and whilst I still don’t, or won’t, describe wines in the wacky ways above I can confidently say the knowledge I’ve gained has been invaluable. My love and enjoyment of all things wine has grown (and it was pretty high in the first place). 

I’m now armed with the knowledge to navigate a wine list, have a meaningful conversation with a sommelier and make an informed decision when picking a wine to compliment my evening meal. 

If like the old me you love drinking wine but want to know and improve your understanding I can’t recommend the WSET courses enough you’ll be introduced to wine types – light, fortified and sparkling and styles through sight, taste and smell as well as gaining knowledge to describe wines (objectively!) and make food and wine pairings. To top it all off you’ll walk away with a globally recognised wine qualification. At Leiths, we teach both WSET Level 1 and Level 2 - follow the links to learn more. 

Want to learn more about wine but fancy a laid-back afternoon? Then Amelia Singer’s Wines from Around the World is the class for you. Enjoy a multi-course lunch with tutored wine pairing and learn how to buy, taste and enhance various wine varietals.  

It’s then up to you what you do with all this new found knowledge. Whether your tipple of choice summons thoughts of 'a liquefied charcoal grilled steak heavily crusted on the outside, blood red on the inside, sprinkled with Provencal herbs, and doused in black pepper' or, more simply, is 'smoky with a hint of spice' - the words are yours!

Author: Ailie Bishop


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