school signTerm is starting for the children, and in a few weeks time it’ll be the adults’ turn. Evening classes begin in September and it’s not all about beginner’s French. Wine tasting is still being offered by many local education authorities and if you’re lucky the course will be taught by a wine tutor who is knowledgeable and understands you’ll be nervous when you first arrive.

wine in glassesDuring each two-hour class expect to sniff and taste up to six wines. Your tutor will encourage everyone to describe the wines for themselves, with perhaps a little prompting.

When the course tutor asks the inevitable “so what do think this wine smells of?”, what’s the ‘correct’ thing to say? Expressing your thoughts to a group of strangers is nerve wracking, but you’ve got to say something it’s expected. Just say what the wine aromas smell like, you won’t be wrong.

Most of the rest of the class will nod in agreement and then go on to express their own different, and often contradictory, sentiments. By the end of the course you’ll find there are as many opinions of what a wine ‘should’ smell like as there are class members.

Next you’ll be asked to take a large sip of wine and swoosh it around your mouth a bit. This is a good way of allowing taste buds to register a wine’s many flavours. But what does the wine taste off?

applesHopefully something fruity (don’t be afraid to say grape). Often red wines taste like darker coloured fruits (blackberries, blackcurrants, plums, cherries) and white wines of lighter coloured fruits (lemons, bananas, melons and apples).

The great benefit of attending wine courses is that each class gives you the chance to try many different wines without having to buy them yourself, and they’re often wines you wouldn’t have been brave enough to try at home.

Try your tasting technique with the following wines to get some practise in.

PG Wine Reviews

Falanghina Italian Rocca Vecchia 2010

£5.99 Co-op (down from £6.99 until September 17)

Tastes and smells like creamy pastry with a hazelnut filling. Nice stuff.

La Vielle Ferme French Récolte 2012 Vin Blanc & Vine Rouge

£6.49 Co-op (down from £7.49 until September 17)

Buy both the red and white in this set and you won’t be disappointed as both wines and wonderfully complex for the money. Expect light melon and pineapple flavours with a touch of walnut astringency in the white and cherry with a hint of banana in the red. Both are excellent all rounders.

Esk ValleyEsk Valley New Zealand Verdelho 2012

£11.99 Oxford Wine Co. (plus other independent wine shops)

Worth seeking out for its refreshing fruit flavours.

Esprit de Puisseguin 2011, Bordeaux

£11.99 Waitrose

Aromas of violets and lavender blend with flavours of creamy raspberry and damson. Nice.

Vidal White Series New Zealand Pinot Gris 2012

£11.99 New Zealand House of Wine (plus other independent wine shops)

Flowery and creamy.

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This article has also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on