October's WineUncorked newsletter - WineUncorked: Wine Reviews and Tips

October’s WineUncorked Newsletter

Wine education may have gone online but finding out about the course is distinctly traditional - word of mouth recommendations and signed-up for newsletters are proving to be the top methods for how attendees for my online wine appreciation courses with Buckinghamshire Adult Learning are discovering the courses and deciding to enroll.

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Online wine events came of age during the early covid lock-down months of 2020 and are still going strong in 2021. While early events were mainly of the 'chalk and talk' type, with wine experts talking at their online Zoom attendees while showing far too many maps and unopened wine bottles, later events have become more participatory with the shared wine tasting experience having the top slot in the first 10-15 minutes (see How is an online class different to the classroom? and Who gets in the wine for an online tasting?).

But how do those attending find out about these ephemeral courses? You'd think that going on an online courses means responding to online promotion and advertising, but that is not my experience.

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The online world of social media and online course listings is not one used by the majority of the 45-65 year-olds attending what is a traditional adult education evening class that's been shifted from a dedicated adult education centre classroom in the middle of a town to an online setting that requires a high level of computing skills - being able to use computer business video conferencing software that's been perloined for learning does not mean that the rest of their world is online. Word of mouth recommendations (which may be face-to-face, via email, text message or telephone call) and reading about the course in a dedicated newsletter sent to those who've enrolled on other courses is proving to be the best method of hooking learners interest.

The serial adult education learner is one that shouldn't be overlooked in getting bookings for an online wine class. Those that enjoy learning for learnings sake are a valuable addition to any course but may hop on and hop off rapidly as they find that painting with oils or holiday French becomes just as appealing.

The WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) 2018 report Consumer Wine Education: Should the Wine Trade Care? prepared by Tim Jackson MW (Master of Wine) found that 6-7 million UK wine drinkers are interested in attending a basic wine course with 4-5 million willing to pay - the most interested are willing to pay over the going market rate for the wine course.

The WSET findings also listed what people wanted to learn on a wine course:

  • How to choose wine in supermarkets and restaurants
  • Learning about the main wine grape varieties
  • Learning the tasting technique used by professional tasters (see How to taste wine)
  • Learning about the classic wine regions in the world

And getting a qualification came low down on their list of wants. Which is good news for those of us promoting the fun and hobby course angle of wine knowledge but less so for WSET.

Latest wine reviews

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Tesco Finest Gavi 2020

£8.50 Tesco

three stars


A delicate white Gavi made with the Cortese grape variety that tastes of freshly cut apple and lemon juice. Its pale green hue matches the light celery and nutty flavours too.


Pacific Mountain Chardonnay 2019

£7 Co-op

three stars


This Californian Chardonnay is made in the older American style with a good dose of woody vanilla flavours that you either love or hate. It adds a vanilla ice cream taste to the apple and pear pie main flavour. Plus there’s a steam train image on the label. So choo choo while you sup sup.


Aldi Zerozecco Sparkling 0.0% alcohol

£2.49 Aldi

four stars


It may be made with de-alcoholised wine with added carbon dioxide gas to give the sparkle, but this zero alcohol wine with the name that has nothing to do with Prosecco is a very pleasant fizz with flavours of lemon sherbet and grapes. Made from German wine, the process to remove the alcohol hasn’t dented the flavours too much, although grape must (freshly crushed grapes) and flavourings have been added back in, so it’s perhaps better to think of this as an alternative to other fizzy grape juice drinks rather than wine.


SPAR The Letter Collection M Merlot 2020

£5.49 SPAR

four stars


This Chilean Merlot is all dark chocolate and creamy plum and cherry flavours and is much better than the bottle label description leads you to expect (“juicy plum fruit flavours”). Priced at under £6 (when on offer) this wine is part of SPARs own brand wines and so offers good value.


Chapel Down Brut NV

£23 direct Chapel Down, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Majestic

five stars


This English sparkling wine is made in Kent by Chapel Down winery and is a stonker – much better in flavour than many equivalent French Champagnes selling at the same price. Plus it’s made in the same way too with the bubbles coming from a second fermentation in the bottle with the same grape varieties (a mixture of Chardonnay and Pinots). The result is fruity and floral with that baked bread flavour that is expected in sparkling wines but often doesn’t taste quite like the real thing. Well this one does. A nice wine for when you want to fork out around £25 a bottle.

Latest articles

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Prosecco, Frisecco, Zerozecco: What’s in a name?

Aldi's new zero alcohol fizz Zerozecco and the Hungarian spumante FriSecco are not having to do battle with Italian Prosecco winemakers like Croatia's makers of Prošek. This sweet dessert wine is not in any way a sparkling wine, or could be confused for one, but Prosecco producers have now blocked their second application to the EU for Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status and claim the right for Prošek wine to have similar brand name protection.


Wine Q&A: Where else can I buy SPAR’s PG Pinot Grigio Rosé?

Mandy got in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. after reading the 3-star review of the PG Pinot Grigio Rosé (£6.49 SPAR) with its simple and refreshing strawberry Opal Fruit flavours to ask if it is available in other shops.


Cans and quarters: The £2.99 wine is alive in smaller sizes

The £2.99 wine is still with us. There are still a few bottles to be found (14 listed in UK supermarkets as March 2021: see The £2.99 wine is not dead yet and £2.99 wine: its death is greatly exaggaerated) but there others at this price range - instead of looking for full-sized 75cl bottles search for wine in cans and quarters.


Nisa Heritage wines reviewed

A staple of many local shopping parades, the Nisa (pronounced Nice-a) store is easy to over look as just another always-open store that's useful for getting in tomorrow's breakfast milk. But wander around to the drinks section and you'll find five great value wines all labelled as the Nisa Heritage range.


More wine reviews and educational articles follow in our next newsletter. In the meantime let us know what you think of the wines you've been quaffing recently or ask us your wine questions: Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or find me on TwitterInstagramFacebook and Pinterest as @wineuncorkeduk





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