• Moleskine Passion Wine Journal

    John has just bought one of these beautiful journals

    Is it worth the money? Currently £11.69 on Amazon.

    Yes you could use a diary or ordinary notebook.​

    However this looks and feels lovely and would make a super gift for any wine lover. It is already set out ready​ for you to personalise with themed sections and tabs and also a wine glossary. 

    What's Included?

    • Six themed sections to fill in.
    • Six tabbed sections to make your own
    • Measures and conversions
    • A wine glossary
    • Plenty of blank pages
    • 202 sticky labels to help personalise
    • An expanding inner pocket

    It's Beautifully Made

    With a wine themed embossed cover and acid free paper. You could be creating a family heirloom here!

    Acid Free Paper Pages

    Acid Free Paper Pages

    Moleskine Wine Journal

    Moleskine Wine Journal

    Should You Buy One?

    Yes if...

    • You love beautiful things
    • Want a lovely gift for you or another wine lover
    • Intend keeping a journal to enhance your wine enjoyment
  • Wine Review Roundup Week Ending 17 January 2016



    Our weekly roundup of recent newspaper wine reviews. Some predictions for 2016 wine trends, low alcohol suggestions and new wines to try.

    This is where you find inspiration when choosing your wine.​

    The Independent-Anthony Rose

    Anthony's popular triple choice

    Night in: 2013 Bodegas Fabre Viñalba Reservado de la Familia Malbec, Mendoza. Morrisons £10

    Dinner party: 2013 Zensa Nero d'Avola, Sicily. £10.50 Oddbins

    Splash out: 2014 Meyer Pinot Noir, Canada. £18, Marks & Spencer

    The Guardian- Fiona Becket

    Wine with texture. Wine with weight and complexity.

    Choices this week include "the brilliant Chardonnay" from Booths Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2010 £15.79

    The Guardian - David Williams

    Wine prospects in 2016. David predicts Canadian wine will breakthrough in the UK.

    He thinks Greece is well overdue recognition.​

    Six wines to try this year include Aldi's Hawkes Bay Red, Hawkes Bay New Zealand 2014 £5.99

    The Independent-Terry Kirby

    Terry picks some low alcohol wines to kick start 2016.

    These include an almost alcohol-free one from M&S:

    Syrah Blancat Natur 2013 "Vibrantly fruity, with raspberry and redcurrant flavours." £5.24 this month.

    The Telegraph-Victoria Moore

    Victoria describes some unusual wines for 2016, including ".a beautiful pale red, a cinsault made by Adi Badenhorst from vines planted in 1956"

    Wines enjoyed this week: -the widely available one is Mount Benson shiraz 2014 Australia (14%, M&S, £12)

  • Christmas Wine Suggestions 2015

    John's Christmas Wine Choices This Year

    Christmas Wine Suggestions 2015

    Christmas Wine Suggestions 2015

    It's That Time of Year Again!

    Well, it’s that time of year again- early December. The ‘C’ word can now officially be mentioned. The war of the supermarkets has already begun, as they battle for your cash in the annual Christmas splurge.

    This is when most retailers really ramp up the ‘wow’ factor in their wine offerings, and there really are some fantastic tasting wines at bargain prices to be had.

    Here is a list of a few we’ve tried and enjoyed compiled for you to seek out for yourself, on the sea of shelves that were already awash with a wall of wine.

    Aldi Exquisite Collection Hawkes Bay ‘Bordeaux Blend.’ New Zealand, £6.99

    Hawkes Bay, Aldi

    Hawkes Bay, Aldi

    New Zealand may be better known for its zingy Sauvignon Blancs and silky Pinot Noirs, however tucked away in a remote corner of sheltered north island lies the gravelly plains of Hawkes Bay.

    Here in the warmer soils, the traditional Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc thrive. You may also be surprised to see Malbec also mentioned in the blend, a variety permitted in Bordeaux but now little used due to its difficulty in ripening there- as if put in there by the New Zealanders just to show they can.

    It all works though, creating a pungent, sweetly spiced red and black fruit flavour bomb. Pure Christmas in a glass- if you weren’t feeling festive before, you certainly will after a sip of this!

    The Wine Society Label English Sparkling Wine-Ridgeview Estate, East Sussex, £20

    English Sparkling

    English Sparkling

    English Sparkling Wine seems to keep going from strength to strength. It is beginning to get the reputation it thoroughly deserves, thanks partly to the south east of England sharing some of the same chalk geological soil formations as Champagne and the commitment and dedication shown by the winemakers.

    This is an excellent example, and a bit of a bargain as far as we’re concerned with ‘Champagne method’ style wines. The perfect balance of crisp, fruit freshness and bottle aged richness, without the lingering acidity some Champagnes have.

    It would make a great toasting wine, or one to proudly serve with your canapes on Christmas Eve.

    Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Barossa Shiraz, Australia. Majestic Wine, £24

    Two Hands, Majestic

    Two Hands, Majestic

    This wine really is something special. The Barossa Valley is famed for its dense, fruity and spicy Shiraz from some of the oldest vines left in the world, with some dating back to the 1860’s. This is where this particular wine gets its name- the older the vines, the more battered, weather worn and ‘gnarled’ they become.

    Older vines produce much less fruit, but each berry has much more concentrated and intense flavours. Ageing in new and old French Oak barrels has developed real depth of flavour here, with a satisfyingly rich, fruity, spicy, chocolatey taste that lasts in your mouth for ages.

    Each sip is so moreish, you’ll be down to your last drop before you realise it! One for a nice rib roast joint of beef, and apparently goes exceptionally well with roast chestnuts straight out of the oven!

    Tesco Finest* Swartland Chenin Blanc, South Africa. £5.50

    Swartland, Tesco

    Swartland, Tesco

    Anyone who has been on one of our Discovery Courses will recognise this gem. It will go a real treat with the Turkey and all its rich, battery, bacon-y trimmings.

    Lovely rich, ripe stone and tropical fruits backed by Chenin Blanc’s characteristic honeyed nose and a brief spell in new oak adding subtle vanilla spice accentuated by its warm climate origins and off dry nature.

    At this price, this is an excellent Christmas Dinner wine you won’t mind having a few bottles of on the table.

    Feeling a bit retro? Also a great accompaniment to your prawn ring with seafood sauce dip, ‘Indian Selection’ with mango chutney.

    L'Or du Ciron Sauternes, Bordeaux France. Marks & Spencer. £12

    L'Or du Ciron, M & S

    L'Or du Ciron, M & S

    This classic sweet wine with its luxurious notes of candied citrus peel and nuts also has a refreshing acidic streak that offsets its opulent richness.

    Works fantastically well with a cheese board scattered with a handful of walnuts and dried fruit, or as an interesting contrast to a dense, sticky Christmas Pud.

  • Some Great Links For Wine Reviews

    Avoid Wine Aisle Confusion-Get Recommendations

    Avoid Wine Aisle Confusion-Get Recommendations

    Our Suggestions For Sites With Good Wine Choices

    Not meant to be an exhaustive list, but the sites are easy to access & give good regular recommendations.

    Saturday Kitchen-BBC1

    A favourite of ours. We often summarise the wine & recipe choices on our blog. They try to make the wines easy to find & under £10 a bottle. Clicking  the link on a  date gives wine & food choices for that show.

    Susy Atkins

    Susy has her own site, and writes for Stella magazine & The Telegraph. On her own site's home page header she features a recommended wine.

    Fiona Beckett-The Guardian

    Wine writer Fiona Beckett is also a cookery writer, a contributing editor to Decanter magazine and to the artisanal food magazine, Fork.

    Victoria Moore-The Telegraph

    Telegraph wine correspondent & writes a monthly wine column for BBC Olive Magazine.

    Anthony Rose-The Independent

    Anthony Rose writes a column about wine for The Independent.

    Olly Smith-The Mail on Sunday

    Olly writes another good regular column with useful suggestions for your wine buying.

    David Williams- The Guardian

    Wines of the week suggested each Sunday.

  • Wine Tool Essentials

    Our Top Six Wine Gadgets

    Here at Northern Wine School we are often asked which gadgets we find most useful. Here is our top six in no particular order:

    Waiter's Friend

    Strong and durable, with a double lever action. A great method for removing even the toughest corks. The blade makes an excellent foil cutter. Our favourite has an efficient serrated blade.

    Foil Cutter

    If you don't have a waiter's friend, or if you want a very fast and efficient foil cutter these fit the bill. Works effortlessly.

    Butler's Thief

    Ingenious gadget for removing old crumbly corks safely. If you put top pressure on such a cork it is likely to break up into the bottle. Just insert the two prongs either side of the cork, twist and pull.


    Even inexpensive wine is improved by being allowed to breathe. Old wines need decanting often to remove any sediment. Looks good on your dinner table as well. A wide bottomed one like this gives you plenty of room to swirl your wine.

    Vacu Vin Wine Saver

    Creates an airtight vacuum so preserving wine once the bottle has been opened. Pump until you hear a click. It works very well. That's why you will see them being used on wine retailers' tasting counters everywhere. Not suitable for sparkling wine though.

    Drip Free Pourers

    These usually come in a pack of five, though they are reusable. They consist of a flexible disc. You roll up the disc, insert into the bottle neck and pour with no more drips!