Winetasting 101 – tick it off your bucket list.

Always wondered how to tell a sauvignon from a chenin, and a pinotage from a pinot noir? If upping your wine game has been on your bucket list since the first time you found out that a bouquet is more than a bunch of flowers, what better time than lockdown to make your cup overfloweth with wine knowledge!

Enter South Africa’s largest and most loved travelling wine show. In response to COVID-19, the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show, in partnership with South Africa’s top wine educator Cathy Marston, is delivering two accessible, fun, interactive online courses to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

Comments Andrew Douglas, Owner and Producer of the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show, “The Wine Show is all about giving our guests the chance to step into the South African winelands and to experience the beautiful landscapes, drink in the rich aromas, and indulge in our globally celebrated wines. While we may not be able to do that through our national wine tour for the moment, we are excited to be able to bring the full enjoyment and appreciation of wine into homes across the country through these two online courses as a COVID-19 limited offer.”

The two entry-level courses – ‘A Newbie’s Guide to Wine’ and ‘Local & Lekker – Focus on SA Wine’ are neatly packaged into four live 45-minute online ‘Zoom’ sessions and are available either as individual sessions or as a combo package. Each session includes 30 minutes of theory followed by an interactive, practical 15-minute tasting session with Cathy that will get you swirling, sipping and sniffing your way through your wine collection.

The first session of ‘A Newbie’s Guide to Wine’ covers the ground rules of wine, and the following two sessions focus on white and red wines respectively. During the final session Cathy takes a look at the mystery of food and wine pairing.

For those on quest for a deeper understanding of the nuances of the Cape winelands, ‘Local & Lekker – Focus on SA Wine’, will look at ‘WINEderful Whites’ then ‘Robust and Red’ wines and styles in more detail. Session three focusses on sweet, fortified wines and brandy, and the fourth session ends on a high note, with Winederlanders learning about South Africa’s finest MCCs and bubbles.

Cathy, who is renowned for her wicked sense of humour and no-nonsense approach to wine, teaches the internationally recognised WSET levels 1 to 4 wine courses throughout Africa and beyond. She says, “Through ‘A Newbie’s Guide to Wine’ our aim is to offer all the tools you need to unlock the exciting but sometimes confusing world of wine. We will take you through the main ‘whats and whys’ of wine and pairing the right wine to the right food. ‘Local & Lekker – Focus on SA Wine’ is a stand-alone session that will further enhance the beginner’s knowledge, looking at everything that matters in the South African wine industry while filling in the history and wine legislation gaps.”

Both courses consist of four sessions, taking place from 18h00 to 18h45 every Tuesday and Thursday over two weeks. The TOPS at SPAR Wine Show’s ‘A Newbie’s Guide to Wine’ presented by Cathy Marston uncorks on Tuesday, 21 April at 18h00, ending on Thursday, 30 April, and the ‘Local & Lekker – Focus on SA Wine’ starts on Tuesday, 12 May and concludes on Thursday, 21 May.

Space is limited so book your spot at the discounted prices for either the individual or combo courses on www.wineshow.co.za/courses. The first 50 people to book for the Newbie’s Guide to Wine course will receive their spot free. Wines are not included, and wine tasting is optional.

About Cathy Marston
Cathy Marston originally hails from the UK and has a wicked sense of humour and a no-nonsense approach to wine. After completing her degree in English at Cambridge University, she joined Adnams Wine Merchants as their marketing manager. Believing that you need to know a product in order to sell it, they put her through all the Wine & Spirit Education Trust exams, culminating in Diploma.

She came to SA in 2001 and opened and ran The Nose Restaurant & Wine Bar with husband Kevin, selling it after seven successful years. Cathy now concentrates on tasting, writing for local and international publications and increasingly, educating people about wine. She runs the largest Approved Programme Provider in Africa for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). WSET are the only internationally-recognised wine courses available in SA and if you want more details of the wine and spirit courses she offers, go to www.thewinecentre.co.za. Currently, she is also the only Stage 2 Master of Wine (MW) student in Africa, hoping to complete this prestigious qualification within the next two years.

About the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show
The TOPS at SPAR Wine Show is South Africa’s largest and most loved travelling wine show, which last year showcased over 900 different wines from more than 200 wineries in seven cities. Over 255 000 enthusiastic wine lovers have experienced the show, which prides itself on bringing the winelands to South Africans across the country, since 2006. Wine lovers are invited to come and meet some of South Africa’s best cellars under one roof, take the opportunity to try and buy a range of limited edition low volume boutique wines not available in stores, broaden their wine horizons and work on their ‘wine speak’ via a range of intimate and topical wine theatre sessions, and take advantage of the unique ‘Sip ‘n Ship’ service, allowing you to buy one case or more and get it shipped to your door for for free. The Durban leg of the 2020 Tour has been postponed due to COVID-19 and a new date will be announced in due course.