Tom Cannavan Zoom wine tastings

The Christmas Wine Quiz!

Our first session on Saturday 5th has sold out, so we are adding a second on Sunday 6th December 2020, kicking off at 6pm and finishing around 7:15pm.

What is it?  A fun and relaxed evening of wine-based quizzing, covering not only wine, wine-making and the world of wine, but wine in the movies, wine in music, wine in history, wine in literature  and more. Play as a team as the entry fee of just £5 is per household, pour yourself a glass of something good, and enjoy.

The quiz is multiple choice – so the correct answer is there in front of you for every question, one of three choices – and of course there is a fabulous prize for the winner: a copy of the new updated issue of Hugh Johnson’s essential text book on wine, The Story of Wine, published by Academie du Vin. But this is not just any copy – it will be signed by the great man himself.

Thinking caps on, and please do join me on Sunday the 6th for what is sure to be an enjoyable and entertaining evening, and a perfect way to beat the lockdown blues.

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Tom Cannavan Zoom wine tastings

Tom’s online wine course

I first started delivering wine education courses way back in the early 1990s, running night-school classes at the University of Glasgow, and my own classes in the city centre. The classes always went down very well with the students, my philosophy being to cover the topic properly, with enough depth and expertise, but to make sure it was entertaining and enjoyable too – nobody wants to be lectured at when they are giving up an hour or so of their evening :).

Over the many Zoom sessions I have hosted since lockdown I’ve been surprised by how easy it has been to create a similar atmosphere of learning, but in a convivial, friendly atmosphere. So I decided to re-write my wine appreciation course from scratch, adding in some practical excercises (in the form of wine tasting) and offer it online.

The course will go back to the basics of ‘What is Wine’, with its historical development and how exactly a bunch of grapes becomes a bottle of wine, but will go on to explore so many factors that go into wine, how so many different styles have developed, and how the ‘Old World’ and ‘New World’ differ. We’ll also look at the secrets of Natural Wine, how sparkling, sweet and rosé wines are made, how to read a wine label, and of course, wine and food matching.

Each of our five weekly sessions will end with a tasting. I will explain how to taste a wine in order to build your own knowledge and experience, and we’ll discuss the properties of each wine. A case of six tastings wines has been chosen specifically to illustrate each week’s theme.

It’s such a shame that ongoing Covid-19 restrictions mean most of us cannot enjoy our normal social life, but the wine course will be a really enjoyable way to spend an hour or so each Tuesday evening between November 17th and December 15th, in the company of like-minded wine enthusiasts. I hope you will join me.

Read more details and sign-up for The Wine Course.

Tom Cannavan Zoom wine tastings

Going off-piste with wine

A tasting I knew I wanted to put together as soon as I launched my online tastings programme. Personally I am a sucker for a grape variety I’ve never come across before, or wines from unusual places. In my time I’ve tasted wines from Kenya, Denmark, Peru and Egypt to name but a few! But as well as that, I’ve been fascinated by wines from the balkans and former Soviet states.

For six years I was Chair of the Georgian National Wine Competition, travelling to Tbilisi or Kakheti (at the centre of wine production) to judge and supervise the competition, while discovering so many wines that were new to me, and often of terrific quality. So I explored Armenia, Turkey, as well as the slightly more familiar Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Croatia, Greece, Cyprus and so on, where thousands of years of winemaking culture and a fascinating gene pool of indigenous grape varieties always offers something of interest.

This tasting includes a wine from Armenia, now thought to be the birthplace of winemaking 6,000 year ago with the winery at Areni-1 (shown right) discovered by archeologists in 2007, and North Macedonia, another ancient wine culture. One of the reasons their wines have failed to break into the mainstream is down to history and politics, and not quality. Both countries have had turbulent pasts, with governments that controlled so much of daily life , but that has changed and the wine industries have been revitalised.

We’ll also look at wines from Crete – another ancient wine civilisation – and from mainland Greece, including an extraordinary Retsina: forget what you think you know about this unique style of wine, flavoured with pine resin, as we have an example that’s certified organic, made in amphora, and made with only wild vineyard yeasts.

Please join me for what will be a fascinating journey, tasting six terrific wines over the two evenings.

Read more about the Wines From the Far Side tasting

Autumn Programme 2020

Autumn Programme 2020

Programme of tastings and courses through to Christmas 2020. Each comes with accompanying wines, supplied by a selected independent wine merchant. All sessions run 7pm – 8pm. Click images for details.

Thursdays 5th & 12th November

Bored with Bordeaux? Replete with Rioja? In this tasting we’ll delve into obscure corners of the wine world to unearth real gems and surprises. £25 per household covers both sessions.

Six quality wines: £69 delivered

Tuesdays 17th November – 15th December

With full accompanying notes, a 5-week course perfect for those taking early steps in wine, or as a refresher for those already bitten by the wine bug. £75 per household covers all sessions.

Six quality wines: £67 delivered

Saturday 5th December

A fun social night with 40 questions covering wine in all its guises, including wine in the movies, literature and more. £5 per household. There will also be practical rounds, with some tasting too.

Two wines to buy will be suggested

New South African tasting

New South African tasting

South Africa is one of my major areas of specialism, having first toured the vineyards in 2000, and having returned 10 times over the years since, including as international judge at a major South African wine competition.

The changes in that time have been phenomenal, with new regions opening up for the production of fine wines, young winemakers entering the profession having honed their skills around the world, and a rediscovery of some incredible old vines, once producing fruit for the South African brandy industry, now being nurtured to create some fabulous wines.

I am delighted to present six wines over this two-evening session, spanning traditional method sparkling wines from the Elgin Valley, to Swartland Syrah, to a cult Grenache from young winemaker Marelise Niemann in the exciting new region of BotRivier.

I hope you will join me for what promises to be an excpetional tutored tasting. This tasting is part of our ‘Premium Wines Series’, with the case of six wines available, delivered to your door by our retail partner, for £95, which represents a genuine discount of £10.45 on this selection.

Full details here.


Vineyards in Stellenbosch.

Tom Cannavan Zoom wine tastings

Shiny new website!

Having published wine-pages.com for 25 years, and run hugely popular Festivals of Wine for over a decade, the changing landscape brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic has led many of us to move our acitivies online. As part of that, over the past few months I have attended dozens of really enjoyable wine tasting sessions, both professionally with winemakers from around the globe, and personally with wine-loving friends.

Many of us will have come to appreciate how easy it is to arrange an online get-together using Zoom video conferencing, and adding some wine tasting into the mix can only make things even better! So I have launched my programme of online tastings and courses, which I hope many people will attend and enjoy. For each I will be selecting wines to taste, which will be delivered direct to your door by top independent wine merchants.

We’ve just run our first session with wines for summer and it was great fun, with happy participants enjoying my presentation of each wine, but then plenty of interactive debate and questions and answers from the whole online group of attendees. Part wine tasting, part one big online party, the feedback is that people can’t wait for the next one!

I hope you will join me online for a futute event.

Tom