If you don't know your gamay from your gewurztraminer, book yourself on to one of these wine courses and learn to appreciate the art of viniculture.
Since 1997, the London Wine Academy has offered a range of courses taught by qualified tutors – including Masters of Wine, buyers and sommeliers. As well as one-day workshops focused on a particular grape or region, there are evening classes and events dedicated to food pairing, such as port and Stilton or Spanish food and wine.
The WES runs tutored tastings, relaxed workshops in various venues across London, and even organises occasional holidays. Courses are geared towards beginners or those with intermediate knowledge, and specialist classes delve in depth into high-quality wines of specific regions, such as Bordeaux or Burgundy.
As its name suggests, there’s much to learn here about all things quaffable and edible. There are wine tours, classes (senior students can also train for the WSET, or Wine and Spirit Education Trust, qualifications) and five-week or half-day courses on wine and food appreciation.
The WSET is a worldwide organisation providing high-quality training and qualifications for professionals working in the wine and spirit and hospitality trades, but their introductory and advanced courses are popular with amateur enthusiasts too. Its informal 'Wine Enthusiast' events often focus on a particular region or style.
This jewel box of a restaurant entices the beau monde of Kensington with its Franco-Japanese cooking, impressive wine list and plush decor – all gleaming mirrors, dainty cutlery and sparkling wine glasses. The likes of maki rolls and sashimi, or caviar and foie gras, are equally at home on exec chef Jerome Tauvron’s dual-nationality menu. For indecisive diners, the six-course tasting menu (£95) is a good introduction, but choosing carefully from the à la carte is a less pricey and no less flavourful option – or order the excellent-value set lunch. From the carte, inventive dishes might include beetroot ‘ravioli’ (in which fine slices of beetroot form a sandwich for tangy goat’s cheese mousse) or succulent smoked langoustines wrapped in kadaifi (fine filo pastry). The latter made its dramatic appearance at table served under a glass cloche filled with aromatic smoke: this place has wow factor and the cooking rarely falters. Chicken is pepped up with nori salt and a sherry reduction, and spicy yellow-fin maki rolls would pass muster in Kyoto. Service is amenable, and the broad-ranging wine list is an oenophile’s dream (bottles can be bought to take away), so it’s a shame only six are available by the glass. In the basement is the rather bunker-like wine bar Meursault, where the food has a similar, though more casual, Franco-Japanese approach. Insider’s tip: Meursault’s wine-pairing menu (£59 per person with wine) is a good-value alternative to dining upstairs.
"Try our enticing new winter set menu at £27.50pp, as well as our award-winning wine selection (Best Wine Restaurant 2016 by Wine Spectator)."