After years of “winging it” with guests – nodding enthusiastically along with the analysis of the wine at hand and encouraging the conversation back to “New World” wines (namely South-West Australian wines!) as much as possible, I finally decided to do something about my severe lack of wine knowledge and enrolled myself to into the Level 2 (Intermediate) wine course with FWW. The day before the course began; I arrived at Nice airport with my study pack in hand, having furiously read most of the text book in the 2 days leading up. Whilst I had definitely fulfilled the 13 hours of recommended study, I wasn’t particularly sure of how much had actually soaked in… all this talk about grape varieties, regions and appellations! Whilst I had heard all the words before, I had no idea how it all fitted together. After meeting the other students, I was very pleased to hear that they felt the same way! How we were going to get through it? I wasn’t sure.

So off we went, swirling, sniffing and spitting (something I would definitely recommend if you want to actually remember the course!) our way around the wine regions of the world. After a while, I shocked myself…I could actually taste the difference between Pinot Noir and Shiraz! I could taste the difference between the different Chardonnay regions! And after a few animated explanations from the all-knowing Helen, I could understand the breakup of different appellations in the Bordeaux region! It was all coming together, and the memories of previous conversations I had had with guests or other “winos” were now completely embarrassing. How could I have not known that? The answer- because I had never bothered to learn! And now that I have the basics, there is a whole world of wine and food to be explored!

Jean Woodward – ex Chief Stew