• 5 Thirst Quenching White Wines to Beat the Heat this Summer

    5 Thirst Quenching White Wines to Beat the Heat this Summer

    Tempted to reach for the Sauvignon Blanc, but fancy a change or a talking point at the BBQ? Why not try some of these refreshing options?

    Picpoul de Pinet

    This warmth loving grape comes from the Languedoc in the south of France. Amazingly, it managed to stay crisp and refreshing despite the intense summer heat. Its name means ‘lip stinger’ in the local dialect, referring to its amazing ability to retain acidity. The vineyard areas around Pinet specialise in it. Becoming increasingly fashionable on wine lists around the UK, its not hard to see why. Attractive floral profile, with lemon and lime flavours which make it ideal with seafood or grilled chicken.

    Tesco Finest Picpoul De Pinet £7.50, 13%abv

    Baron De Guers Picpoul De Pinet, Sainsbury's £8, 12.5%abv

    Villemarin Picpoul de Pinet, Majestic, £9.99, 12.5%abv


    The best expression of this comes from Sardinia in Italy. It has lovely crisp green apple, grapefruit and lemon/lime flavours, often with a touch of herbaceous character. The effect of the sea supposedly gives it a distinctive salty mineral tang too. It is also normally quite low in alcohol, at around 11-12.5%abv. Goes a treat with any grilled fish or meats coated in Mediterranean herbs and lemon.

    Nord Est Vermentino Cantina del Vermentino, Majestic, £11.99, 12.5%abv

    Castanzu vermentino di sardegna, Kwoff, £8, 12%abv

    Le Stelle Vermentino di Sardegna, Waitrose, £8.79, 12%abv


    A home grown hit. This German variety is named after the Greco-Roman god of wine and has really taken to the English climes. Our version of Sauvignon Blanc. Expect elderflower, citrus and gooseberry but with a slightly softer edge to the acidity. Never cheap but is competitively priced against many New Zealand offerings. Some major supermarkets stock it, but often easier to purchase online direct from vineyards themselves.

    Chapel Down Bacchus, Ocado, £13.99, 12.5%abv


    This variety is from the Rueda in North West Spain. Freshness is paramount in this grape, so they are often harvested at night or early morning at cooler temperatures to preserve its aromas. Soft textured, yet full bodied and pungent with flavours of citrus, stone fruit and melon. Delicious and often great value in comparison to its more famous neighbour, Albariño.


    Not always sickly sweet, although the nose often fools your brain into thinking that. Dry versions have all the same delicacy and perfume with a grapey, stone fruit, citrus peel and floral character. The best ones balance these wonderful aromatics with crisp acidity. The classic region for this style is Alsace, though for slightly cheaper expressions look to Chile or Spain. 

    Trimbach Muscat Reserve, Wine Society, £14.95, 12.5%abv

    Juan Gil Moscato Seco, Reserve Wines Manchester, £12, 14%abv

    De Martino Gallardía del Itata Muscat, Wine Society, £9.95, 12.5%abv

  • John’s Monthly Wine Recommendations, April

    White Wine

    Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Greco Di Tufo. Campania, Italy. £10

    ​Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Greco di Tufo

    From Campania in Italy, the favoured wine region of the ancient Romans. This is made from the Greco grape, named after the Greeks who were first thought to have brought this variety with them to southern Italy. Greco Di Tufo is a region which has been awarded its own designation specialising in it, thanks to the grapes performing well on the limestone plateau ('Tufo') here. A rich textured, yet fresh, crisp and aromatic white with floral aromas and notes of herbs and spices. Lovely stone and exotic fruit flavours on the palate. Great with rich, creamy pasta or seafood dishes.

    Red Wine

    ​Diablo Dark Red. Maule Valley, Chile.13.5%abv. Sainsbury's/Londis, £10.

    A new premium red by Concha y Toro, makers of the Casillero del Diablo range. It has a dramatic, sriking red and gold label you can't fail to miss on the shelf. A multi vintage blend of Shiraz, Malbec and a small amount of other varieties. The wine has been symbollically aged for 6 months, 6 weeks & 6 days in a mixture of new and partially new French and American oak barrels.

    An enticing nose of ripe red and black fruits, smoke, vanilla and dark chocolate/coffee. The rich, pleasing flavours follow through on the palate. An intense red that is excellent with BBQ food, steak, chile or spicy things. Smooth and not too heavy on the alcohol. Delicious and satisfying.

    Diablo Dark Red '666' Blend

    Diablo Dark Red '666' Blend

  • Northern Wine School Gift Guide

    ​Welcome to The Northern Wine School Gift Guide! Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are done and dusted & you still haven't got those important presents for special people? We have some inspiration for you. Here are some ideas we've gathered together to make buying for your loved ones so much easier.

    Experiences are remembered long after The Festivities are over.

    Manchester Wine Tasting Gifts

    Gift Ideas for Wine Lovers

    Great for budding wine enthusiasts to start them out on their wine tasting journey. One of our most popular gift ideas and a sure fire winner.

    ​The classic match made in heaven What could be a better gift for wine and cheese lovers? There are several versions of this delicious event for them to choose from-all using the same voucher!

    ​Super treat for steak and red wine lovers. Rounded off with a cheese board in Malmaison's private dining room-The Ember Lounge.

    ​The ultimate wine tasting, 10 fantastic wines with three delicious courses. Followed by tea and coffee in Malmaison's private dining room. An indulgent day learning about wine and food matching.

    Gift Ideas for Gin Lovers

    ​The drink of the moment! A chance to taste six craft gins and experiment with mixers, botanicals and garnishes. Always a lively fun evening.

    ​New for 2019 we've added a taste of luxury to our famous gin tasting by including a delicious afternoon tea at Malmaison. An indulgent treat for gin lovers!

    Gift​ Idea-Let Them Choose

    ​This option offers the choice of a wide range of events. Currently these include:

    • All wine and cheese options
    • Gin Tastings
    • Whisky Tasting
    • Charcuterie and Wine Tasting

    In fact any £30 event from our calendar

  • John’s Monthly Wine Recommendations- April

    White Wine

    Definition Series Chenin Blanc, South Africa. Majestic, £12.99.

    Majestic Definition Chenin Blanc

    Majestic Definition Chenin Blanc

    A good example of the style you can achieve from Chenin Blanc, when wine makers aren't trying to squeeze as many grapes out of their vines as possible. Green apple and citrus, with a honeyed nose. Delicious stone and tropical fruit on the palate, with a hint of sweet spice from a touch of oak.

    Red Wine

    Errazuriz Coastal Series Pinot Noir, Chile. Waitrose, £10.99.

    Pinot Noir at a reasonable price point is quite hard to pull off. It's either cheap, weak and insipid or jammy and powerful from the New Zealand/very earthy and expensive from Burgundy for the best expressions. Chile is an amenable home to this grape. This wine falls some where between the two, for more accessible cost. Perfumed red berry fruits, with a touch of earthiness and floral character. 

    Errazuriz Coastal Series Pinot Noir

    Errazuriz Coastal Series Pinot Noir

  • Champagne Tasting at Randall and Aubin

    Manchester Champagne Tasting at Randall and Aubin

    Manchester Champagne Tasting at Randall and Aubin

    An Early Mother's Day Treat

    For an early Mother's Day treat we went to a Champagne Tasting at Randall and Aubin, Manchester. This Salon Privée was sponsored by Moet Hennessy and featured some of the finest French Champagne. The three courses were each matched to a different Champagne, including our favourite Ruinart Brut.

    Why the Early Mother's Day Meal?

    I will be busy teaching WSET Level 2 Wines and Spirits on the big day itself. So I didn't want my Mum to miss out. This was too good to miss because it combined her two favourites-seafood and Champagne!

    A gourmet event with Chef Ed Baines & Moet Hennessy on 6th March 2018.... A champagne expert from Moet Hennessy will be on hand to talk guests through each champagne highlighting how each one is crafted and why each is the perfect accompaniment to Ed Baines's delicious menu...

    The Menu

    The evening started with a flute of Randall & Aubin's finest cuvée on arrival 

    • Starter: Oysters Randall or Scallop en Croûte served with Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label 
    • Main course: Hake with a crab crust, Spring vegetable, Jersey Royals with tarragon beurre blanc sauce. Served with Ruinart Brut.
    • Dessert: Peach Melba with a brandy snap tuile. Served with Veuve Clicquot Rich
    Bread and Aperitif

    Bread and Aperitif

    Oysters Randall

    Oysters Randall

    Scallop en Croute

    Scallop en Croute

    Hake with a crab crust

    Hake with a crab crust

    Mum's Verdict

    A fantastic meal, superb service and a lovely relaxed atmosphere. 

  • Champagne Bureau Masterclass at Sheffield Hallam University

    The Champagne Bureau

    The CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne) is a semi autonomous official body that looks after the interests of the thousands of Champagne vine growers and wine makers. It has several responsibilities, the most (in)famous perhaps being its fierce legal protection of Champagne’s status as a protected designation of origin product. However, much more of its work is dedicated to important factors such as innovation and world-wide education about the region’s wines.

    The have several offices (Bureaux) around the world. The UK arm kindly invites Northern Wine School to run educational workshops on their behalf to Hospitality and Business students studying at various universities in the North of the country. 

    Many of these students will be involved in hotels, bars and restaurants in their future careers. These are individuals who will go on to encounter Champagne, no matter what role in the industry they take.

    Champagne is a Unique Product

     The idea is to give students an important overview of the region, its wines and production methods to show them first hand, what makes Champagne so unique. Most importantly of all, it reinforces that Champagne can only come from Champagne, in France.

    John Teaching Champagne Bureau Masterclass at Sheffield Hallam University

    John Teaching Champagne Bureau Masterclass at Sheffield Hallam University

    Tasting Glasses Waiting to be Filled Courtesy of The Champagne Bureau

    Tasting Glasses Waiting to be Filled Courtesy of The Champagne Bureau

    Champagne Selection-a Fine Choice!

    Champagne Selection-a Fine Choice!

    Sheffield Hallam University

    On Monday the 12th February, John was invited to the Business and Hospitality School at Sheffield Hallam University. Right in the heart of the city, a short walk from the main train station, they are based in the Owen Building on the 12th floor. the Masterclass was to be hosted in the impressive surroundings of a room that is used to create a mock up of a real working restaurant environment. It had EPOS tills, a full bar, barista style coffee machines and a full working catering scale kitchen attached at the back.

    Attendees were able to sample the five main styles of wines as part of the presentation courtesy of The Champagne Bureau. The exact labels vary with each tasting, as they are donated by the producers. The point is to explore the region and its wines in general, rather than emphasis on specific houses’ styles. Everyone gets to taste ‘Non-Vintage’, rosé, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs and vintage Champagnes. Attendees are guided through how they are different, the best service techniques, glassware and suggested food pairings for each.