Wine Course Barcelona Rack and Return –
You can order the house wine with confidence in Barcelona. It will taste more than ok and not stretch your wallet much. If you are eating out somewhere a little bit nicer, the city’s sommeliers are a friendly bunch overall and will guide you rather than embarrass you.
But what if you do want to know? Wine is a complex world. To enter it, a foundation in the basics will empower you to start exploring. Rack and Reserve Wine Course Barcelona is the idea of two friends: Fintan and Michael. Fintan Kerr, from Manchester, got into wine when he moved to Barcelona and started with wine tours in Barcelona under the name Wine Cuentista. He quickly went on to become a wine writer and an international wine judge. Michael Salverda is a South African wine expert with a knack for blind tasting. They were joined by Nika Shevela, who is the Head of Wine Education in Spanish at Rack and Return. Nika is a Cava & Canary Wine ambassador as well as a wine tour guide under her own brand Wine Alphabet.
The trio offers WSET courses for all three levels in both English and Spanish. As well as the Spanish Wine Scholar qualification in Spanish wine, exclusively. Which covers 60 different wines and delves into the most remote corners of the country over an intensive 24 hours of class time. (Not all at once!)
I’m on a one day course for the level 1 WSET certificate. The course starts at 9 am and goes to 5 pm with one and a half break for lunch. Fintan starts us off with the basics. How do grapes go from being on the vine to the bottle? The different processes for red versus white.
It’s the next part that I find most useful: Fintan teaches us how to taste wine. We have an inherent ability to do this, but with Fintan, we learn to verbalize what we are tasting or rather smelling. We look at the colour over a white background. We swirl and sniff. Sniff and taste. And repeat. For each of the 12 wines we taste today, we spend time becoming familiar with it. We smell lychee in one, plastic in another. Not everyone smells the same thing; it turns out. Moreover, what we smell is not what we eventually taste. A Riesling that is not particularly pleasant on the nose is excellent in the mouth and the combination of high acidity and sweetness would make it ideal with Asian food. I for one am grateful to have something besides beer.
At some point, Fintan teaches us the best trick of the day, how to determine acidity. It’s too good for me to give it away here, you will have to take the course for that.
Fintan is a natural teacher. He lets us indulge in a little bit of chatter but always guides us back to the course work. Michael arrives at the end of the class to administer the exam. Thirty multiple-choice questions in 45 minutes. The finished paper goes to the UK for marking.
Though I don’t know some of the people in the class after blurting out our impressions of what we are smelling, we have done some bonding. We congregate outside the doors and ride the small wave of test induced adrenaline.
Today we’ve become familiarized with the 8 principal grape varieties. Four white: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling. And four red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. We all pass the course and feel rather smug at doing so. But the credit really goes to Rack & Return for the excellent job of selecting wines that display the characteristics they are supposed to have to an exaggerated degree—making it easier for us newbies to put our finger or nose on it.
*Readers of Foodie in Barcelona receive 10% off Rack & Return Classes use FoodieInBarcelona10*
Wine Course Barcelona*
* I was invited to attend this course. However, this review reflects my true thoughts.
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