Wine School, sign us up

Wine school. This was enough to convince us really when we came across a post advertising this series of events at Corney & Barrow on the Newmarket High Street.

I‘ll be honest, I can hardly call myself a wine expert. Can I distinguish between flavours? No. Do I detect certain notes as the wine swishes around in my mouth? No. When it comes to wine my philosophy is simple, if it tastes any good I will drink it.

I once got absolutely smashed on Cabernet Sauvignon, now I don’t – or can’t depending how you look at it – drink it. Chardonnay? Ok then pour me some. Sauvignon Blanc? Yes please.

Which means that the evening spent inside Corney & Barrow might be viewed as a wasted opportunity by some but it really wasn’t. In fact, Ben and his team provided us with one of the greatest ways to decide whether a wine is any good to drink.

Side note, if you’re ever around Newmarket a visit to their store is a must. Not only because it is filled floor to ceiling with bottles of wine, gin, vodka, whisky and just about any other spirit you could imbibe but rather because it’s a shop that seems to have a serious bit of history and character. Oh, that they stock cigars is great too.

Wine School bottle Nick Gordon

On this particular evening, Corney & Barrow run these events monthly and keep them varied and interesting, we looked at some of the new trends and regions either enjoying something of a resurgence or a new discovery in terms of the wines being produced there.

There was a brief trip to Chile, Spain and France and an even blend between tasting red and white wine. But the greatest thing to come from it all was what I’m now dubbing the ‘Wine School Scale’.

How It Works?

It’s pretty simple and instead of trying to overcomplicate tasting notes with trying to give a score as a percentage or whatever, we simply grade wines on a score out of five.


We’ll start from the bottom. If you come across a wine that’s a 1/5 you’re likely going to try and distract the person who poured it and then head straight to the sink to pour it out. You will feign an interest in the label when it’s flashed around but that’s all a lie. You will never give this plonk the time of day ever again.


This is saved for a wine that’s neither here nor there. Doesn’t blow you away, doesn’t make you gag either. Enjoy a glass of it with the meal when offered at a dinner party and move on. Not averse to having it topped up during the evening.


This is when it starts getting good. So good that you suddenly find yourself holding the glass out for a refill every time the bottle comes out. You make a mental note of this one for future reference in case you spy it in the supermarket and need something that’s easy to drink.


When next you browse the wine aisle at your local supplier or supermarket, this is a bottle you will actively seek out and won’t mind spending slightly more than what you normally would. It’s a wine that you enjoy and have no hesitation in recommending to anyone else.


This is one that you don’t share. In fact, when you take this bottle out for a dinner party it gets hidden away, if it’s a white then it’s buried deep into the ice buckets or at the back of the fridge so that nobody finds it. Heaven help the person who finds the red, left somewhere quiet to breathe while you imbibe. It’s yours, and it’s the best wine ever.

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