When I pitched this series, I did so with the sincere intention of challenging myself to take on daunting skills that I would have otherwise left for those more ambitious and less self-conscious than my millennial snowflake self. I also did it with the clear ulterior motive of wanting to do fun things that I had always wanted to try. In planning these pieces, I tried to strike a healthy balance between the two which ended up significantly heavily weighted towards the former, causing me to treasure the latter to an almost hoarder extent. It was this goblin-esque mentality that led me to the Manchester Wine School’s Introduction to Wine evening with a smug excitement and the flush of being two gins deep and having run up two flights of stairs (I was late for gin-related reasons).
Now, in the interest of the full transparency, this was not my first oenophilic rodeo. I have worked on and off in the hospitality industry for a decade and have been subjected to my fair share of wine training, each more pretentious and less helpful than the last. Shivers run down my spine upon one particular memory of practically screaming “PEATY” at a haughty Italian across an empty Albert Hall because I was put on the spot to describe a particularly unpleasant Zinfandel. I was, therefore, a little sceptical and nervous about putting myself and my white-trash palette back in the adjectival firing line, especially as I attended alone.
Luckily, I needn’t have worried for a second. Liz, the owner of the Manchester Wine School, immediately put me at ease and was by far the most accessible and least pretentious wine geek I have ever had the pleasure of crossing with, and trust me I’ve met a lot – I’m from Kent. The evening was made additionally delightful by being sat next to two lovely gentlemen taking the school’s eight week course, who shared their marvellous insights and regularly passed me cheese – the best kind of people. An additional cherry on top was the gorgeous setting of the sumptuous Exchange Suite in the Royal Exchange Theatre, a truly beautiful setting that made the session feel much more exclusive and luxurious than one would expect at such a reasonable price tag.
The evening kicked off with a particularly stirring impression of Liz’s kids refusing to brush their teeth then transitioned immediately into a beautiful Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc, a segue I never realised I needed to experience until that moment but am infinitely glad I did. We were guided at each step through the information and background of each glass, along with a gorgeous selection of charcuterie and cheese to pair with the wine (and form a life line for my woefully underlined stomach). There was no expectation of guessing tasting notes or age, no judgmental looks or scoffing when you dribble a bit on your shirt when taking an overenthusiastic sniff, and interesting wine facts were woven throughout the course of the evening in a way that was engaging without feeling like a lecture. Liz was full of hilarious and genuinely useful tips for all tipples (they also do spirit tastings and qualifications); one particular tidbit involving frozen grapes and gin blew my mind, but you’ll have to attend a session to find out for yourselves. All of this was backed up by some seriously impressive knowledge and further enhanced by them not scrimping with the wines. I toddled home pleasantly tiddly and equipped with a bouquet of wine-based facts to whack out in social situations when I want to come across fancier than I actually am.
To check out their amazing upcoming events , take a peep at the Manchester Wine School website.