The refined way to enjoy wine
It is always interesting to see ourselves as others see us, so I was curious about recent research looking at wine culture in Ireland.
A Swedish student spent several months investigating our habits and you'll be delighted to hear that his thesis concludes that there is a refined tone to our wine consumption.
Johan Nilsson found a thirst for wine knowledge, and that the Irish use wine to embrace civilised European culture, as opposed to the stereotypical image of hard drinkers. Johan did his work in association with the Department of Anthropology, Stockholm University and our own NUI Maynooth.
Mind you, the French, with all of their history and tradition, don't have it sorted. France's Higher Education Minister commissioned a report on how to deal with binge drinking among students.
One recommendation to land back on the minister's desk was that university canteens should hold wine-tasting sessions under the name 'Initiation to moderate consumption of wine'.
Co-author of the report, Jean-Pierre Coffe, a well-known gourmand, was unequivocal: "Why is there sex education and not viticultural education? You can learn wine too."
Sadly for the students, before a cork could be popped on campus, Minister Valérie Pécresse responded: "Yes to education to taste, no to wine at lunchtime for students."
I'm with Jean-Pierre Coffe, which is why I feel it timely to remind wine lovers that autumn classes are about to get going and I'm told there is already big interest.
It's impossible to list them all, but watch out locally, and here's a taste of what's on offer:
- The O'Brien's wine chain is running an introductory four-week course (one night per week) in its Donnybrook, Rathmines and Beacon stores, all in Dublin, for €49.99.
- The Wine Academy Ireland in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny (wineacademy.ie) is offering wine appreciation night-classes as well as intensive, week-long intermediate and advanced courses accredited by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET).
This is an industry-standard qualification, but also has a huge following among amateur enthusiasts keen to build knowledge and aid their drinking enjoyment.
- The Dublin Wine Academy (dublinwine academy.com), part of Cook's Academy, Dun Laoghaire, is starting nine-week WSET intermediate and 12-week WSET advanced courses on a night-class basis over the autumn and winter.
They're great fun, and how else can you get to taste six wines a night in the name of education, refinement even?