We sent Irishman Conor Sheils to the Conrad Cairo's exclusive Wine School to see if he could switch his native Guinness for the glorious grapes of France.
When I first heard about the Wine School at the luxurious Conrad Hotel I wasn't sure what to expect – I mean what would a young, hip, trendsetter like me be doing drinking wine, just like my parents? Until this point my knowledge of wine was largely limited to vain attempts to impress girls in trendy East London bars and much more successful attempts to get drunk, alone, in the cheapest way possible. However, that was all set to change.
During the course, our Wine-Master-cum-teacher, JP Mainardi, covered the general processes behind the beauty of wine making before zoning in on three distinct region: Bordeaux, Burgandy, and finally, the champagne region of France. Our wine guru was on hand to explain everything from the aroma and how to store your favourite merlot to the correct way to hold a glass while drinking.
Each lesson began with an assault on the senses, a blind smell test designed to give students an appreciation for the various scents from the region of the night.Then it was time for the charming Mr. Mainardi to spring into action in his attempt to turn at least one wine weakling into a grape loving machine. Mr. Mainardi gave this particular student a fascinating insight into not only the world of wine itself but also the growing process and, most importantly, the best ways to tell cheap plonk from a top class bottle.
And then with the words and pictures out of the way – it was time for some serious drinking.
Of course, by 'serious drinking' I mean drinking wine for the very serious purpose of learning how to taste the wine like a pro.The two-hour weekly lessons were informative, interesting and fun as Mr. Mainardi manages to keep even the work-weary interested and convey information in a way that is both memorable and interesting for all involved.
The course is informative and I genuinely felt that as the lessons progressed, I was becoming more and more clued in to the world of wine, while making a couple of potential future wine drinking pals along the way. The lessons struck just the right balance between work and play, and by the time the final lesson ended, I found myself swirling my glass and sniffing at wine as if I’d done it all my life. I even gave my parents a call to tell them that I finally get what all the fuss is about.
So whether you want to develop an appreciation for wine, or just find a more sophisticated way to drink yourself to an early grave – The Conrad Wine School is for you.