There’s a happy person in my wine glass
Earlier in the week, this picture of me popped up on my Facebook TimeHop feed. “There’s a tired person in my wine glass,” was the status update.
This was during my sleep-deprived state as a new Mum. This wine glass wasn’t actually mine, I was far too tired to drink let alone think about alcohol back then.
A year later sleep has improved so much that on the day I received this notification I was about to head out for the third time that week. What a difference a year can make.
Although I don’t drink very much these days, in my long and eager history of wine guzzling, it’s taken me a while to slow down and smell the roses – or should I say, the elderflower and apple notes. I’ve always been curious about what qualities makes a certain wine taste how it does. When drinking a new drop, wouldn’t it be helpful to have a clued-up friend on your shoulder explaining where the grape was grown, why it tastes smoky and rich and why it goes particularly well with certain foods, so that your taste buds are fully-charged, eager and wild, heady in full anticipation. That’s what happened very recently.
Last week Roots and Toots was invited along to a Wine and Cheese Workshop hosted by Norfolk Wine School. They’re a relatively new yet highly experienced outfit in our region, an independent wine education company which hosts wine tastings and wine courses in Norfolk. They offer a host of wine events from introductory courses to more in-depth individually themed tastings. All their events champion good wine in a relaxed setting. No previous wine experience necessary.
We tasted six different wines, matched with six different cheeses. Surprisingly, the majority of the wines were white, each one was nothing but delicious. We had a lovely time. It made a happy change, rather than just heading out to a bar, we felt as though we actually EXPERIENCED the wine in focus, up close. No guzzling, just nuzzling into the deliciousness of it all.
Before the workshop
We were glad we lined our stomachs before hand. If you live in Norwich and plan to attend one of the workshops, many of which start at 7pm, I’d recommend eating at East Twenty Six beforehand. A modern tapas place, a short equidistant walk from each of the Wine School’s two venues at The Library Restaurant or St Andrews Brew House. The portions are the perfect size and better still they serve food all afternoon so you can easily find a table for around 5pm. The cheese and wine that followed worked really well with our pre-workshop cocktail and tapas. Anyway, back to wine.
What to expect at the event
There were around six pairs of guests – a mixture of couples and friends – all sat together around a large table with six empty wine glasses in front of us, along with three (untouched) spittoons in the room. We spent the evening exploring a range of delicious cheeses and matching them with some classic wines from around the globe. We learnt about food and wine matching more generally and we picked up some really good tips to take away and practice at home.
On the evening we tried six different cheese and wine combinations and while the wines and cheeses will vary slightly each time, depending upon availability, they may include some of the combinations we tried:
Wine No.1: Sancerre Les Chailloux 2015, Loire Valley, France
Cheese: French Chevre
Wine No.2: Nostros Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2015, Chile
Cheese: Ferndale Cheeses Norfolk Dapple
Wine No.3: F Stephen Millier Amgels Selection Viognier 2015, California
Cheese: Ripe French Brie
Wine No.4: Beyerskloof Reserve Pinotage 2013, South Africa
Cheese: Ferndale Cheeses – Smoked Norfolk Dapple
Wine No.5: Waitrose Signature Valpolicella Ripasso 2014
Cheese: Mrs Temples Norfolk Binham Blue
Wine No.6: Cabidos, Vin Doux, Cuvee Saint Clement, Petit Manseng 2012
Cheese: French Roquefort
If you had shown me this line up before hand I would have opted for very different wines and cheeses. However, the proof is in the pairing. The first three wines were each delicious in their own way: The first with notes of grassy, crisp apples worked well with the earthy goats’ cheese; the second oaky wine and mature cheddar were both not to my personal taste but I didn’t dislike them, I could appreciate them for what they were and would have easily eaten and drank more of each; the third was a delicious fruity wine with ripe cheese which worked very well together.
It was the last three pairings that caught my attention. (I think this simply says something of my preference for red wine and sweet things!) The Pinotage was smoky with berry flavours and was intensely gorgeous with the smoked cheese. The Ripasso was a port-like wine which worked wonders with the Binham Blue (not usually something I’d choose but together it was an eye-opener, something I’d buy again). Lastly, the winner for me was this dessert wine pictured below. Again, a big surprise for me. Roquefort I can only usually enjoy in cooking not by itself but I could have easily eaten the whole triangle along with the remains of this bottle.
The evening costs £30 per person but prices vary depending on the workshop.
More about Norfolk Wine School
The school are wine educators, not retailers, which allows them to select the best wines from local merchants and leading national suppliers.
Their tastings entertain and inform and there’s no pressure to buy wine at the end, making us unique in the world of wine tasting.
They are part of the local wine school network who have been providing wine courses and events across the UK for over 20 years.
They offer structured courses; immerse yourself in the world of wine by joining an 8 week World of Wine course and you will taste over 50 wines along the way.
Wine and Cheese Pairing
If you fancy finding out about the best cheese and wine pairings to impress your guests then check out the Norfolk Wine School’s next Cheese and Wine Pairing Workshop or try one of their other wine themed classes – see below for a list of up and coming events.
Up and coming events:
Wed 9th Nov – Evening Tasting: Introduction To Wine £22.50
Wed 16th Nov – Warming Winter Reds £27.50
Tue 22nd Nov – Evening Introduction To Wine Tasting Plus Christmas Food And Wine Matching £22.50
Thu 24th Nov – Christmas Cheese And Wine Workshop £35.00
Mon 28th Nov – Champagne & Sparkling Wine Tasting £35.00
Sat 3rd Dec – Saturday Wines For Christmas Tasting £30.00
Wed 25th Jan – Evening Tasting: Introduction To Wine £22.50
Wed 25th Jan – 8 week World Of Wine Introductory Course £95.00
Wed 25th Jan – 4 week Discovery Course: The Old World £50.00
Wed 1st Feb – Tour De France Stage 1: Bordeaux & Burgundy £27.50
Wed 8th Feb – Tour De France Stage 2: The Loire, Rhône & The South Of France £25.00
Wed 15th Feb – Evening Tasting; Spain And Italy £25.00
Wed 22nd Feb – Evening Tasting: Australia And New Zealand £25.00
Wed 22nd Feb – 4 week Discovery Course: The New World Including Fizz £50.00
At the end of the night: “There’s two happy friends in my wine glass”
For more info:
Norfolk Wine School
16 Woodland Drive
Tel: 01603 944094
Mob: 07714 404790