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 a 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’ we aim 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 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.