Wharfers set to become clued up on wine
Everyone knows what wine they like, they just don't know why they like it," says Chris Rawlings.
The 51-year-old, who plans to launch a foundation course on the Wharf for beginners next month, will be a familiar face to many shoppers as he's been a fixture at Waitrose in Canada Place since it opened.
A former wine and sales manager at the store, Chris now works there one day a week as a sales consultant allowing him to juggle it with his business, Rawlings and Wine Ltd.
After a decade leading wine tasting courses at the Wharf-based bank, Chris is set to re-locate to Reebok Sports Club for his February sessions, targeted at amateurs who enjoy a glass but can't pinpoint the difference between a Shiraz and a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Accredited by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), the sessions will be provided by Chris' Docklands Wine School - the educational arm of his company.
He said: "Wine is a passion and anyone who has got a passion about something loves talking about it.
"I have been doing this since 2002 and I didn't want to let 10 years of work just go.
"There is just such a demand for it. People want an after-work social atmosphere but they also want to learn about wine.
"There's a lot of intimidation with wine. A lot of people think it's something only people who have special abilities seem to be able to fathom out, which is a load of rubbish.The courses provide a building block to a sound knowledge of wine from products across the globe done in a relaxed atmosphere."
The programme, which comprises four classes of two-and-a-half hours each spread over a month, begins with a look at wine, what it is and factors affecting its taste.
The budding wine-tasters also have the chance to learn about the eight most popular grape varieties and sample each one, while analysing similarities and differences in their taste.
Those keen on pairing wine with food will enjoy the matching sessions, with expert advice offered on how to chose the right wine to complement flavours.
Upon successful completion of the course, participants will be presented with a certificate for achieving WSET Level One which gives them a foundation to learn more.
Chris will enlist the help of a friend to run the sessions and will primarily select the wine on show from Waitrose, allowing participants to gain easy access to the bottles they have tasted.
To sign up for the first programme, starting on February 19 and priced at £175, call Chris on 07796 690884 or go to rawlings-and-wine.com.