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  • Rupert

Back To The Books

This week I started my first academic studying for several years. Although I've been reading a lot, visiting vineyards and speaking to winemakers and (naturally) tasting loads of wine, I really want some more structure in my learning. And to be honest, getting back to the books has been a bit daunting.

Although the WSET Diploma is still definitely on the cards at some point in the future - it's not something I have the time to commit to for the next year or two. A busy day job, a busy weekend job, two growing children and the general day to day business of life continue to take priority.

Earlier this year I signed up to the Italian Wine Scholar study programme and this week my course began. The Wine Scholar Guild runs three Wine Scholar qualifications; French, Spanish and Italian. And, while all three appealed to me, the thought of exploring the wines, countryside and history of Italy in a bit more depth (even vicariously) was the most tempting.

It's a virtual course, which sees a weekly online classroom/lecture with a set of tasting samples to accompany it. It is being run by West London Wine School, which is where the exams at the end of the two units will take place.

I was already aware that Italy has a fascinating history and a massive variety of grapes/wine (this was one of the reasons I chose the country) but, after just one week and a bit of background reading, I'm already starting to think that I've bitten off more than I can chew!

We've scratched the surface and peeked into the Aosta Valley and Liguria, two of the smallest wine producing regions in the country, but there's already so much to take in. Wines/grapes/history/viticulture and foreign words I can barely remember are a hint of what's to come over the next few months.

Despite being daunted, returning to studying is also exciting and I'm really looking forward to what's to come. I love Italian wine and food and I'm even doing a language course on the side. So hopefully the next time I get to visit, I'll know a bit more about what to look for.


Away from the studying I've been hosting a number of events recently for Birmingham Wine School. I really enjoy leading tastings because they vary so much. The last one I did was a French Wine dinner at Hotel du Vin - and it was brilliant to share a load of different French wines with the customers. The Pinot Noir from Majestic was a real surprise as I wasn't expecting so much depth and strength from Alsace.

My next event in a couple of weeks is at the same venue, where I'll be pairing sparkling wines with fish and chips. It's one of my favourite nights as I love it when people realise for the first time just how well they go together.

Buying wine for work gives me an excuse to try more as I am always looking for something new and different for events. I try and source wines from as many places as possible; from online retailers, supermarkets and independent merchants. I don't sell wine. I try and point people in the right direction.

So keep an eye on my Instagram for suggestions and if you've got some recommendations, get in touch.

Here's a new wine I tried recently, which I'll definitely be buying again.

I bought this before I started my recent studies as Dolcetto is traditionally an Italian grape. But rather than hailing from Piemonte - this is from Australia's Adelaide Hills region - and is a banger! It's full of juicy fruit acidity (think of sour cherry) but is brilliantly balanced with some prune and chocolate flavours. It was £10.50 from the Wine Society and, sadly, I only bought a couple of bottles. But I'll definitely be looking for more when it comes back in stock.

But for now, it's back to Italian wines and back to the books.

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