Europe is where wine originates from and across the many countries and regions of the continent produces a stunning, but often bewildering range of wine styles.
This event is designed as an introduction to this fascinating subject, and no experience is necessary as you will learn to taste wine like a professional from the outset.
As part of our exploration this evening we will explain the labelling rules that govern wine production in Europe, which without a little bit of knowledge make European wines seem far more complex than they actually are.
Of course, we can’t do justice to an entire continent’s wine styles in just one evening, so we hope you will continue your wine journey, as this evening is the first of four looking at the wines of Europe in our 4-Week European Wine Course.
With so many wines to choose from, where shall we start?
- Let’s start in Italy, which can of course trace its relationship with wine back to the times of the Romans, and what better wine to start with than a Pinot Grigio? Our example is a far cry from so many lacklustre Pinot Grigio’s, often the “house wine” and pretty poor examples they are. Ours is from the foothills of the Alps in Northern Italy and is a DOC wine. Ah, there’s the first of those European wine labelling terms, which do actually mean something quite significant.
- Our next stop on our wine journey around Europe is Austria. Often overlooked or avoided due to an unfortunate incident involving antifreeze in the 1980s, Austrian wine has the highest standards of quality control in the world and produces some fantastic wines, which unfortunately they mainly drink themselves. They have their very own superstar grape variety in Grüner Veltliner, which is what we will sample.
- Sticking with a Germanic theme for a moment, we then travel west into Germany, which can mean only one thing – Riesling! Wine enthusiasts will tell you that Riesling is the finest white grape variety in the world, and yet many people have never tried it, perhaps being put off by Germany’s flirtation with some very average wines in the 1980s. Come along and sample a true German classic wine to see if we can change your perceptions.
- We will now journey to the country widely regarded as the very epicentre of the world of wine: France and its most famous region – Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux wine, known as “Claret” in England has been a staple of British wine drinking for centuries (we used to own this part of France in the distant past which may have something to do with it). The wines of Bordeaux are of course worth an entire wine tasting course in their own right, but tonight we will just sample the one. Our sample is from the “right bank” of Bordeaux and is a blend dominated by the Merlot grape. If “right bank” means nothing to you, then we will of course be delighted to explain in simple terms the geography of the area and more importantly how it affects the style of wine.
- Staying in France, we now head Southeast into the Rhône Valley where the sun is hot enough to ripen Grenache and Syrah grapes. Here amongst the herbs grow old bush vines that make powerful iconic Rhône wines that are often some of the best value in France. We have a lovely example for you to sample.
- Finally, we can’t of course neglect Spain and its famous Tempranillo grape. This grape is what put Rioja on the map but tonight we see the same grape in a richer, more full-bodied form from Ribera del Duero. The climate here is warmer than Rioja, meaning more alcohol and black fruits rather than red, combined of course with ageing in oak (which is one of the things Spain does very well).
This is a stand-alone event, but also forms the first in our 8-Week World of Wine Course, an exploration tasting 50 wines from 12 countries after which your wine knowledge would have increased hugely.
If 8 weeks is too much commitment, or perhaps your interest is only in European wines, we also offer a 4-Week European Wine Course where we visit France, Italy, Spain and Portugal in more depth to pick up where this event left off.
Professional ISO tasting glasses, all course materials including tasting sheets & water are provided, along with a few nibbles to help the wine along.