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Wine tasting classes in West Lothian, Scotland

Class of Wine's Blog

Autumn 2016 wine blog

Welcome to Class of Wine’s first wine blog! This blog is intended to keep our followers up to date on the latest news and stories from the world of wine. Most of the stories that we will post are just fun articles that we have found in the press but if you would like to learn more about wine, what you are drinking, where it is from and what is involved in making it, have a look at our events page for classes coming up soon!

An Italian Winery has introduced a fountain of wine, which you can drink from for FREE!!

The catch I hear you ask … you must be walking the 310km “Cammino di San Tommaso” route between Rome and Ortona. The Dora Sarchese winery has just unveiled the fountain which walkers will pass by on their hike.

See link to full article here:-

The latest must-have wine accessory – the Plum wine dispenser

An American company called Plum has released the most up to date accessory for storing wine and serving it at the perfect temperature. The unit is about the size of a bread maker, holds 2 bottles and allows you to pour a glass of wine but preserve the leftovers in the bottle for up to 90 days. It also scans the label and works out the perfect storing temperature for each bottle. I would go straight out and buy one but it has a slightly too expensive price tag of $1499. I think I’ll wait a few years for it to come down in price! See a video of how the machine works here:-

And for those of you that would never dream of leaving any wine in the bottle…

There is now a wine glass that attaches to the wine bottle so that you do not need to waste time pouring it!

Fancy a change of wine colour from the usual red, white or rose?

Two wines has made the headlines recently – one is green and one is blue!

The green wine is a mixture of wine and cannabis and only available in California where people that have a medical marijuana card can purchase it and the blue wine is from a Spanish company who want to attract a younger market to drinking their wines. They also insist the wine is naturally coloured!

See link to articles here:-

One of Australia’s most famous producers to release a 6 litre bottle for $185,000

Penfold’s Grange is an Australian brand that is famous for making wine at a range of prices from very affordable through to very expensive. On Tuesday it released its 2012 Imperial bottle, along with a hand-cut crystal decanter to make it easier to pour. The bottle and decanter will set you back $185,000! See full article here:-

And finally…

Red wine hot chocolate anyone?

Combining a chocolate and red wine fix? See recipe via this link:-

Thanks for reading!


Class of Wine

Winter 2017 wine blog

Welcome to Class of Wine’s winter wine blog! I am pleased to say that our first event in Linlithgow on November 9th was a sell out and a great success. Thanks to all who came along, I hope you enjoyed the class and will return to one of our future events.

I hope you enjoy reading the following round-up of recent press articles from the world of wine. If you would like to learn more about wine, what you are drinking, where it is from and what is involved in making it, have a look at our events page for classes coming up soon! The next one is an Italian wine tasting on Feb 22nd 2017.

Let’s start off with the best wines to drink in 2017 - Canada, Australia, Morocco and more:-

Or how about some advice on alcohol free drinks for a dry January? Some tasty mocktails in the article below from the Daily Mail’s wine columnist. However her best piece of advice is to drink less but drink better! (wine that is ☺):-

Anyone else sick of dismal January and all of the negative press? Well, at least the French are benefitting from the Brexit vote! Because of the weak pound, sales of Bordeaux wines are showing growth for the first time in 5 years!

Some good news for the UK though, the Independent reports below on the amazing rise in exports of English Sparkling wine. As climate change takes hold, conditions in the south of England are becoming more and more similar to the champagne region, with similar temperatures and chalky soils, which are said to be ideal for sparkling wine production. Lots of the English wines are beating Champagne brands in tasting competitions:-

Ever wondered why some wines fetch such ridiculously high prices? Usually these wines are incredibly well made but often, in addition to this, it is about reputation, history and above all supply and demand:-

Find it difficult to order wine in restaurants? Advice from the experts is to be brutally honest about what you like and what you are willing to spend. Any restaurant worth its salt should also take pride in choosing a good value house wine, so do not be embarrassed to order it!

And finally, some trends in wine for 2017. The good news is that new regions and grape varieties will emerge (this often means finding a bargain) but I am not convinced by wine in a can! Alternative packaging is on the increase, as wine makers look for more environmentally friendly ways of packaging their drink, but wine for me must always be out of a nice (preferably large) wine glass:-

More on alternative packaging here. A longer, flatter wine bottle that fits through your letter box. Same day delivery from Amazon anyone?

Thanks for reading!


Class of Wine

Spring 2017 wine blog

Welcome to Class of Wine’s spring wine blog! This is my favourite time of year, when we have the whole of spring, summer and autumn to look forward to and all the lovely Scottish sunshine that we get, (occasionally ☺). Thanks again to those of you that have been coming to my classes in Linlithgow. The next one is an Australian wine tasting on Wed 3rd May and I am looking forward to trying the wines with everyone and getting their feedback. It is always interesting to hear what peoples’ preferences are and why, as they do not always match each other’s or my own. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes but there are also many reasons why people do not like certain wines or think that they do not like certain wines, including:-

1. They have tasted a poor example of a wine type in the past and that has then put them off trying other examples. I was guilty of this myself when I first started drinking wine and I remember thinking that I hated any white wine that had been oaked (aged in oak barrels or flavoured with oak chips/staves). The truth is, is that there are some bad winemakers out there who use oak and do not get the balance right. If overused it can be very overpowering to the fruity character of the wine. The overall aim of any winemaker is to balance all components so that the end product is the best it can be, this is the case whether the wine is £5 or £500. Elements of the wine that need to be balanced include alcohol, acidity, tannin, flavour and body.

2. They have not developed their palate. Students that I teach often say to me that they like white wine but do not like red wine, even though they want to like it so that they can learn more about it to help them perform better in the jobs that they do in the hospitality industry. I tell them to keep trying as many different reds as they can, (even if it is the last mouthful of a wine that has been left on a restaurant table that they work in). The minute they find a style that they like, they should then continue to try that style and the palate tends to adapt so that more styles can then be enjoyed. It’s a bit like when you were a child and did not like certain foods, when you are older you suddenly love them.

3. They do not drink the wines with the food that enhances them. Some wines are great for drinking on their own but most are better when partnered up with food. The key thing again is balance and certain components in the food can have a positive or negative effect on the wine and vice versa. For example, a dry white wine can taste far too acidic with a sweet dessert but fantastic with a salty dish that softens its acidity and enhances its fruitiness. There are also many other factors that come into play. What is most important though is that you enjoy what you are eating and drinking and that anybody advising you, takes into consideration your individual preferences, over and above anything that they have read in a book!

Here is a round-up of some news articles from the last few weeks:-

Wine tasting is good for your brain

First of all, good news for us wine tasters and a great excuse to come along to a wine tasting class (if you need one that is☺). A Yale University neuroscientist has claimed that wine tasting engages your brain more than any other behaviour:

Experts advise on the world’s most under-rated wines

This article asks 9 sommeliers which wines they think are the most under-rated. They give a range of answers, including wines from the Muscadet and Beaujolais regions of France and wines from Portugal. These wines tend to be available at less expensive prices due to the fact that other styles are more popular.

Where do all the different aromas and flavours in wine come from?

The next article asks where “meaty” flavours come from in some red wines. Flavours in wines can form because of various different factors:-

Primary aromas – these come from the grape variety itself or the fermentation process and tend to be fruity, floral, vegetal, herbal or spicy.

Secondary aromas – these come from processes that happen after the grape juice has been turned into wine. This can include putting a wine into oak barrels to mature. The oak can add more complexity to the wine, including aromas of vanilla, coconut and toast. Another process is called malolactic fermentation (when harsh lactic acid is converted to soft lactic acid). This process can add dairy aromas to the wine, such as butter and yoghurt. Another process involves leaving the wine on its “lees” for a few months. This means leaving the dead yeast in the wine for a few months before filtering and bottling. This adds aromas such as biscuit, bread and pastry.

Tertiary aromas – these develop in bottle but only in wines that are made to be aged. In white wines, aromas such as mushroom, honey and even petrol can develop. In red wines, aromas of leather, game, tobacco, meat and wet leaves can develop.

Bad news for Malbec lovers

Red wines made from the Malbec grape have become very popular in recent years. However, the biggest problem for most winemakers are natural hazards that they have very little control over, (hailstorms, earthquakes, strong winds, bush fires etc). Scientists have recently concluded that the Argentinian wine regions of Mendoza and San Juan, where much of our Malbec comes from, are at the highest risk of problems of any wine region in the world, particularly from summer hail storms. Let’s hope they don’t have too much bad luck and that prices stay low. Malbec is one style that I often find tastes great, even at low prices:-

Wines that don’t spill

Finally, a solution that stops wine dripping from the edge of the bottle top when you finish pouring:-

Thanks for reading!


Class of Wine

Summer 2017 wine blog

Welcome to Class of Wine’s summer wine blog. I hope you have all been enjoying the Scottish sunshine (all 2 days of it!). Since my last blog, I have held two wine tasting classes in Linlithgow, on Australia and Spain, which I hope everyone attending enjoyed. My next event is on New Zealand wines and will take place at 7pm on Wed 11th October. If you would like to attend, click on store to purchase tickets or to be kept up to date on future events, follow Class of Wine at:- or

Below is a round-up of some recent wine news from across the world. Enjoy!

Reasons to love rosé

My favourite part of the world is the South of France and every time I go, I live off the local rosé wines. At my last wine tasting, we tried a Spanish rosé wine from the Navarra region. A few people were unsure of rosé wines and a number of people in the class, said that they would probably buy red or white before rosé. My advice would be to get out there and try it. Like red and white wine, it comes in a number of different styles and can be very food friendly. Rosé wine is made from red grapes. The flesh of a red grape is translucent, so the winemaker achieves colour in the wine by pressing the clear juice out of the grapes and leaving the red skins in the juice to allow the colour to seep out. The clear juice turns pink in 1 to 3 days (depending on whether the wine maker wants light pink or dark pink) and if a red wine is made, the skins are left for around 2 to 3 weeks.

Most European rosé is dry in style (meaning that it has no residual sugar left in the wine but is still fresh and fruity) and good examples are from the Provence region in France, Navarra in Spain and rose sparkling wines, such as Champagne and Cava. If you prefer a sweeter style, Californian is the king of sweet rose wine and their white zinfandel is usually around 10% abv with some grape sugar left over to sweeten the wine. The Loire Valley region in the north of France, (in particular the sub-region of Anjou), is also known for rose wine, ranging from dry to sweet. Look out for the following label terms to help you:-

- Rosé de Loire – dry in style

- Rosé d’Anjou – off dry (slightly sweeter than above)

- Cabernet D’Anjou - ranges from off dry to sweet

Still not convinced? Here is a list of the wide range of flavours that can be found in rose wine:- é

Is Champagne a swizz?

The next article asks if expensive bottles of Champagne are worth paying for. First of all sparkling wine can only legally use the name “Champagne” on the bottle if it is made in the Champagne region of France, which is in the north-east, just above Burgundy. Any other region/country can make their sparkling wines using the Champagne method or "methode Champenoise" (this is allowed to be stated on the label) but the name of the region is protected.

The Champagne method is more time consuming and more labour intensive than some other methods of producing sparkling wine. This is one of the many reasons for it being more expensive. At the end of the day though I believe that Champagne producers are just excellent at marketing. Over the years, the region has built up an excellent reputation and the governing body in Champagne has worked hard to make sure that no one tries to cheapen their “brand.” Take a look at some of the websites of the famous producers and you would think that this product is made of angel dust, not just simple grapes and yeast. Britain is one of the world’s biggest importers of Champagne, as they have convinced us that it is the only drink worth having at our weddings, graduations etc. If you would like to try sparkling wine from other areas, made in the Champagne method, try Cava from Spain, English Sparkling wine, Cremant wines from other areas of France, e.g. Cremant du Loire or Franciacorta sparkling wines from Italy. There are also lots of examples from outside Europe as well. Still not decided, read the opinion of Fiona Beckett, wine writer for the Guardian.

The world’s largest underground cellar

One of the remarkable things about the Champagne region is its underground cellars. These run for miles and miles underground and are the perfect temperature to age and store wine until it is released. However, the world’s largest underground cellar is not in Champagne, but in Moldova and is 34 miles long storing 1.5 million bottles.

French wine protests

French wine is famous for a number of reasons but over the centuries, each region has worked hard to build up its own reputation. Recent imports of cheap Spanish wine into French supermarkets, has seen French wine makers take to the streets in protest, creating havoc by tipping lorry loads of Spanish wine onto the motorway and smashing hundreds of Spanish bottles in a French supermarket carpark. This is not their first protest and won’t be their last!

Wine made in a lab anyone?

Ava “Winery” in California can produce wine in their laboratory without using a single grape. Find out how they do it in this article. An interesting concept but I think I’ll stick to natural food and drink thanks ☺.

And finally:-

Wine ice lollies in Budapest

They look yummy but I think I would prefer a large glass of wine and a separate bowl of ice cream!

Thanks for reading!


Class of Wine

Autumn 2017 wine blog

A year has now passed since Class of Wine’s first tasting was held in Linlithgow and although I have only held a small number of events, I have thoroughly enjoyed hosting them and meeting lots of lovely new people. Thank you to those of you who have attended and if you are interested in coming along, a few tickets are still available for my next event on Wed 6th Dec at 7pm in Linlithgow Burgh Halls. I will be taking the class through a tasting of 8 wines that would work well with your traditional Christmas dinner. To book, click on store above or to be kept up to date on future events, follow Class of Wine at:- or

As we approach the end of 2017, I think we can all agree it has been a bit of a crazy year across the planet, from Brexit to Trump to hurricanes to wild fires and the wine world has not escaped all of this! Below is a roundup of a few challenges it has faced/is facing, as well as a lighter hearted look at potential Christmas gifts for the wine lover in your life (all budgets catered for!).

Wild Fires in California

This October saw wild fires devastate parts of California’s wine industry, particularly, it’s most famous region, Napa Valley. As the world deals increasingly with the effects of global warming, incidents of drought and wild fires are on the increase. Closer to home wild fires in Portugal and Spain also had a devastating effect. Not only do these fires have an immediate impact in terms of loss of life, the burning of homes, vines and stock but the long term damage can be just as hard to deal with. Luckily in California, 85% of the crop had already been picked, (because it was an incredibly hot year and grapes were picked early), but if vines did catch fire, the winemaker then has to wait 3 to 5 years for new vines to grow. Even then many will have been devastated to lose old vines which can play their part in producing a better quality, more complex wine. Scientists are also still studying the long term impact of smoke on vines, which spreads far and wide, even when the fire doesn’t. From these disasters, also comes good news stories and many people are working hard to help others and get business back on track.

Read more here about the Napa Valley wild fires:-

Read more here about the Portuguese wild fires:-

Read more about how winemakers are trying to get back to business:-

How will the world’s wine map change as climate change takes hold?

As California, Portugal and many other places suffer the effects of climate change, other countries are benefitting. The following article discusses the rise of quality wine making in England, Poland and other traditionally cooler parts of the world and how they may surpass the traditional wine making countries in the future.

At the moment the world’s best vineyards tend to lie between 30 and 50° latitude, this usually gives the grapes enough sunshine to ripen but also a winter season when vines lie dormant, vital for quality wine grapes. Vines also benefit from coolness during the growing period as well, this means that they do not rush to full ripeness, their acidity levels being preserved, giving a better balance to the finished wine. A wine with high alcohol and lots of flavour can taste flat and lifeless if the acidity is too low. Cooler spells can be provided by growing vines at altitude, near the cooling effects of water or in a region with a wide diurnal temperature range.

This article discusses British wine in more detail and what potential the future may hold:-

A Global wine shortage for 2018

Because of all this mad weather, many regions have seen a very low harvest this year. The following article discusses a global shortage for 2018 which probably means increased expense for us all – yet again! Don’t worry though there are still 14.5 billion litres to be enjoyed across the globe:-

Look to Eastern Europe for quality at low prices

If you do notice that prices are on the up though, the advice from this article is to look to Eastern Europe for low prices and increasingly good quality. Many Eastern European countries have long histories of quality wine making but interruptions and changes were made under communist rule and only in recent decades have these countries been able to get back to business:-

Wine themed Christmas gifts

To finish, see below for a range of wine themed gifts for the wine lover in your life (i.e. a gift to yourself! ☺). Everything from wine candles, to cork stools to unusual wine holidays!-

If I do not see you at my next class, have a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Make sure you treat yourself to some nice wine (always in moderation of course)!

Thanks for reading,


Class of Wine