For me, just the mention of the words ‘wine tasting’ is enough to conjure up an image of a red-faced, rotund posh chap, possibly in a cravat, green wellies and a blazer, talking about hints of ironing boards or something equally ridiculous.
So it’s fair to say I was a bit sceptical about spending a whole day of our weekend in London on a wine-tasting course.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like wine. Almost as much as I like cheese.
But I couldn’t help but worry about getting stuck next to some bloke called Rupert wearing pink cords who wanted to talk about fruity aromas.
Fortunately, the East London Wine School takes a nice, unpretentious
approach to teaching which suits me just fine.
Their day-long course was held at a hotel and as the group of a dozen of us gathered, it was a bit like your first day at school.
My wife and I headed to the back of the class, hoping we wouldn’t be picked on to answer any tricky questions, letting the keener ones make their way to the front.
I was pleased to see we weren’t the youngest there on the day and it was a good mix of people.
After a drink or two the initial restraint soon wore off and by lunch I was thinking I had at least three new best friends and possibly a new wife.
We started at 11.30am, downed, I mean savoured, six white wines, from France, New Zealand, Argentina and Spain and then stopped for lunch.
After that it was onto reds – something I’d been looking forward to – and these included wines from Chile, Spain, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina.
All the while Ian Bentley, who led the class, kept it extremely interesting and informative.
In fact, it was so good, you hardly realised you were learning, so maybe more wine is the key to improving education standards.
After a good few hours spent on the vino we needed some fresh air, so we headed to our hotel via a walk along the South Bank.
The London Bridge Hotel is a stylish four-star bolthole that’s an ideal base for exploring the capital.
Perhaps not surprisingly, given its name, it’s right next to London Bridge railway
station so you have easy
access to overground trains and two tube lines to get around.
Right now the hotel has a number of offers, based on whether you want to include dinner and breakfast.
We decided to go for the whole lot.
Depending on how you feel you can opt to eat in the more relaxed Quarter bar
or the Londinium restaurant.
Inspired by a day of good wine and keen to put some of our new skills to the test we went for the Londinium, where staff were very
friendly and the food was great.
The Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and London Dungeon are just some of the places nearby to visit.
And the Borough Market is a great place to go on a
Saturday for some inspiration of recipes to try yourself when you get home.
In all, it made for a great weekend.
And thankfully there wasn’t a cravat in sight.
London Bridge Hotel. Rooms start at £99 on a room only basis or £109 for bed and breakfast.
Go to londonbridgehotel.com, call (020) 7855 2210/2211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The East London Wine School
offers eight week courses, four week courses and one day or one evening introductions.
For more information go to eastlondonwineschool.com, call (01376) 583119 or email email@example.com.