Majestic Knowedge logoWhat’s free, crammed full of useful wine knowledge and available at 187 locations across the UK? Answer: the Majestic Wine Course, a 90 minute in-store introductory guide to wines, wine tasting and food matching. Run monthly at each Majestic outlet across the UK this informal group tasting and chat (numbers restricted to a maximum of 10) is tutored by the store manager, who in this case was Hayley - a bubbly and enthusiastic wine aficionado running the new Midlands store at Ludlow.

Majestic tasting course“Professional tasting glasses help channel all the aromas at the narrower top” explained Hayley at the course start, going on to demonstrate the accompanying wine tasting technique, or ‘backwards whistle’, which allows the small intake of air mixed with a slurp of wine to reveal a wine’s individual tastes.

But this rather noisy method won’t work on whites that have been refrigerated to death as “chilling a white too much can make it become closed”. Hayley’s advice, helpfully noted down on her crib sheet provided by Majestic Head Office, is to let a white wine stand for 20minutes before drinking.

Majestic SancerreThis was amply demonstrated on tasting the Sancerre Baronnieres, the first of nine wine samples provided for each of us attending yesterday’s course at Majestic Ludlow: enjoyable flavours of light (“understated”) pineapple and lemon were evident even though the chill had almost left it.

However the Majestic course mantra that “the flavour of higher quality wine lasts longer in the mouth compared to cheaper wines that give an initial burst of flavour” is all well and good if it’s a flavour you like – sample three a “very exaggerated” example of an ultra-oaked Chardonnay smelt and tasted too queasily creamy for my palate.

You’d do better to invest in the lighter creamy flavours of Heidsieck’s Gold Top champagne. Twenty quid didn’t seem too bad for flavours of fresh bread spread with homemade apricot jam infused with the fruit’s almond tasting kernel.

Oh dear, getting carried away there. That’s what going on a wine course does to you.

If you want to have a go at the Majestic Wine Course yourself then book a place through the Majestic website or ask at your nearest store.

PG Review of Majestic’s Wine Course Teaching Aids

Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene Extra Dry, Italian Sparkling

£8.99

A light apple tasting fizz used as a greeting wine at the start of the course. Okay but expensive.

Sancerre Baronnieres, French Sauvignon Blanc

£9.99

This is a Sauvignon Blanc for people who’ve got fed up with the intensely-flavoured gooseberry Sauvignons coming out of New Zealand. Try this French version with its light pineapple and lemon flavours.

Majestic ChablisChablis Laroche 2011, French Chardonnay

£11.99

Fresh apple acidity.

Montes Alpha Chilean Chardonnay

£10.99

This is sample three, the “very exaggerated” example of an ultra-oaked Chardonnay that smelt and tasted too queasily creamy for my palate.

Heidsieck Gold Top Champagne (2005 and 2007 vintages available)

£20

Flavours of fresh bread spread with homemade apricot jam infused with the fruit’s almond tasting kernel.

Brancott Estate New Zealand Pinot Noir 2011

£10.99 (buy 2+ at £7.99)

Too much possible sugar-solution on the aroma for the price. Tart redcurrant and strawberry flavours.

Heidsieck Gold TopChateau Picard-St-Estephe 2004, French Red Bordeaux

£14.99 (buy 2+ at £9.99)

The most versatile of the wines during the food and wine matching element of the course, going well with salad, smoked fish and chocolate. A blackcurrant tasting wine with a heavy dose of liquorice.

Orion’s Belt Shiraz

£6.99

Cherry and blackcurrant flavours with some cocoa dryness.

Brown Brother’s Orange Muscat

£6.99 (half bottle)

A marmalade tasting dessert wine.

This article has also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on MatureTimes.co.uk