Wednesday 23 October 2019

The wine buff: Set a course for 2019


'There are two great wine tastings coming up'
'There are two great wine tastings coming up'
Santa Rita
Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

I never make New Year's resolutions. Not that there's anything wrong with them: it's just that, with me, it is generally a good intention that's going nowhere fast. But if you're searching for a belated and actually pleasant New Year's resolution, why not decide to learn a bit more about wine in 2019?

There are plenty of wine courses starting in January and February, and they are not at all intimidating. "Lots of people who come to me for courses have gone to a wine tasting and maybe spoken to wine producers, something like an O'Briens wine festival. And it opens up their eyes to all the different terminology about wine, like dry wine, full-bodied wine, and sweet wine," says Maureen O'Hara of Premier Wine Training, who has worked as a wine educator for over 20 years.

"Every man that you ask wants a full-bodied red wine. But then when you show them that there's something light-bodied like Pinot Noir, they say, 'Oh, that's lovely, that's really nice.' Red wine drinkers sometimes say they only like red wine, but often it's just that they haven't tried the right white wine. So for those people who have had their interest piqued, a wine course is perfect."

Maureen has a one-day wine course running on January 26 and she will start the WSET Level 2 on February 3, which runs one evening a week over six weeks. WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) is the industry standard when it comes to wine courses, but it is open to anyone who is interested in increasing their wine knowledge.

Harriet Tindal at Tindal Wine also runs WSET courses, and the next Level 2 starts on February 12. In Kilkenny, Mary Gaynor of the Wine Academy of Ireland will be running the WSET Level 2 in a more compressed format, over three intense days from April 1-3.

Other wine courses worth investigating are those held at Ely CHQ by the award-winning sommelier Ian Brosnan. The next four-week course starts on February 12, covering all aspects of wine, including wine-making, and food and wine pairing. The focus, however, will be squarely on tasting and will include supper each evening.

In Cork, Wine Fundamentals kicks off for the first of four weekly classes on January 19 at L'Atitude 51, while in Galway sommelier Fanny Wennerstrom starts a four-week wine course in Sangria Tapas Restaurante - and the €150 fee includes a set of tasting glasses as well as notes and great wines.

In the meantime, why not try a little wine tasting with a group of friends over the next few weeks?

If you focus on one varietal but get bottles from different parts of the world, like the Sauvignon Blancs I have highlighted today (see left), it makes comparisons incredibly interesting. And if you have a chance, it's worth doing a little bit of research on the internet, so you can discuss the wines in more detail.

Contact details for the various wine classes mentioned above are as follows:,,,, and


In case you didn't get a voucher for a wine tasting in your Christmas stocking, there are two great tastings coming up - and they only cost €15 each. The Flavours of New Zealand tasting is at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Dublin on Monday January 14; tickets available online at The highly rated Searsons tasting is on Monday February 4 at the Marker Hotel, Dublin; tickets from

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