It isn’t something that immediately springs to mind when you’re planning your uni activities, but wine tasting can be a really fun activity, especially if you are looking to try something new (being from a small town, I know I wouldn’t find this at home) or learn more about wine. Lots of people are very passionate about the drink, and there are hundreds of different types with different flavours and the nuances of all of this can be very complicated. At a wine tasting, if you’ve never been to one before, the host of the class will walk you through what to look for in terms of taste, and they might tell you a bit more of the history of the wine, as well.
There are plenty of places in Birmingham that offer wine tasting, but these are just a few of our favourite ways of tasting new wines in Birmingham.
1. Loki Wines
Address: Birmingham City Centre, 36 Great Western Arcade, Birmingham, B2 5HU
As one of the premier wine merchants in Birmingham, Loki Wines is probably your best bet for a professional wine tasting, run by experts that can show you precisely what to look for in terms of age, region and flavour. I am hugely impressed by the range of wines and different tasting formats that they employ, and it is a must-try for any wine lover in the city. Their most popular tasting is their ‘cheese and wine’ tastings, for which they pair with cheesemonger Anderson & Hill. There are five different versions of this tasting, where guests can try six wines (usually a combination of sparkling, red and white) with six kinds of cheese, specially selected for the compliments in flavour that they offer. They are also currently running online tastings, so you can join in with friends at different unis or even at home. Other tasting options include wines by region (for example, they are running a South African wines masterclass in the coming month) and introduction to other drink tastings, like gin and rum. Loki Wines would be my first recommendation for an excellent wine tasting, although they are on the expensive side for a student budget. Online tastings are currently running around £55 (for three full-sized bottles plus the walk-through of the tasting) or £65 with the cheese. In-person, tastings start at £35, although this can go up. It is not an every-week event, but I would definitely recommend it for wine lovers.
Address: 3 locations across Birmingham (Hotel du Vin, Holiday Inn Snowhill and The Wellington)
The Birmingham Wine School, as well as running short tasting sessions where guests can learn to identify notes of flavour, age and region, host a Level 3 award in wine tasting, endorsed by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, as well as the two previous levels. Industry professionals learn about wine here, so you’ll be in good hands if you go along for a tasting. If you’re really passionate about wine, they run 4 and 8-night courses on tastings or, if you prefer something a bit more casual, their wine tasting evenings are a fantastic way of learning more about wine with fellow wine lovers in a friendly environment.
With tastings from £30, guests can try out between 6 and 8 delicious wines with a carefully paired food. You might be looking to learn more about wine or just try out something different; either way, this is a perfect start. You can also try one of their ‘cheese and wine’ evenings (also claimed to be their most popular event), with costs from £35. Try out premium wines with specially picked cheeses for a deeper flavour. Whatever you want to learn about wines, Birmingham Wine School is a great place to start.
Address: 217 Aston Rd, Birmingham, B6 4LH
I have to admit, I’ve never seen a dedicated champagne tasting event before, but The Drinks Emporium has got you covered if champagne is your drink of choice. They have a range of tasting events, including wine, gin and other spirits where experts on premium drinks will walk you through what to look for and the history of what you are drinking. What I particularly like about The Drinks Emporium is their ‘Wine of the Week’ blog segment, which caters for a range of budgets and tastes. Their most recent post focuses on value for money, so an alternative (which I will focus on in more detail later) might be to organise your own tasting with their specially chosen wines, particularly at the moment if you do not feel comfortable attending a tasting in person. They are specialist wine merchants, so this might be a great place to try an at-home tasting with wines that you can be confident complement one another and offer great value whilst tasting great.
One of the best and most affordable (if you plan right) ways of going wine tasting is to do it yourself. Wine tasting in a professional bar with experts on hand is a great experience. Still, it isn’t easy on the wallet and, if wine tasting is something you enjoy, most students will struggle to afford regular outings. A wine tasting night is relatively simple to organise and can be a fun and cheaper way to taste supermarket wines.
Between yourself and a couple of friends, you can either pick a type of wine (red, white, sparkling, whatever you like) and buy up 3-6 different bottles of the one kind and go through the tasting routine (if you’re unsure of what to look for, there are videos and articles on the internet to walk you through it) or try a variety of different wines. Get some snacks (either traditional wine tasting snacks like cheese, dark chocolate and grapes or just your favourites crisps) and settle in. Depending on your budget and what supermarkets you have in your uni town/city, Aldi has a great and affordable selection of wine in most of the different varieties. Sainsbury’s and Morrisons also have a wide range of wines, or even M&S, but these are noticeably pricier.
If you don’t feel like going out to a bar or doing one yourself, university societies can be a great way of trying out wine tastings. Currently, UoB is the only university with a wine society, but if you are a Birmingham student interested in wine, you can either go along to one of theirs or start up your own society if you have some friends equally into wine tasting!
However, you like to drink wine, there are places and ways to enjoy a brilliant tasting in Birmingham for most budgets and tastes. Go it alone or get a group of friends together and make an evening of it. Whatever you do, enjoy some great tasting wines and maybe try out a few wine-friendly snacks!