The History of Wine.

“The History of Wine cannot be separated from the history of humanity. Wine, fruit of the vine and the labour of man, is no mere drink.

Companion to man throughout the ages, wine contains something of the sacred and something of the profane. It is a testament to civilization and is a measure of the quality of life. It is a cultural asset and a factor of social life.”

Communiqué to the European Commission in Brussels in 1990.


The EDP Wine Certificate.

Keith and Frank have designed the EDP Wine Certificate, in association with the Eastern Daily Press, for those participants of the course who wish to undertake a brief but comprehensive examination at the end of our programme in April 2009. The certificate will be based on a multiple choice paper with two highest scoring candidates being invited to an all expenses paid wine buying trip to France during spring next year.

Wine tasting

Each part of the course will be accompanied by a small case of wine to taste along with the class.

Social Events.

During the course, two on-trade venues in Norfolk will be selected in order to host tasting events in the company of Frank and Keith. Those tastings will be limited to no more than thirty five readers and will give you a chance to consolidate your understanding of the course so far and will re-visit and taste some of the regional wines already covered.

Details of tasting venues will appear in the weeks to follow.

During the weeks ahead all of these features will be illustrated with each module.

There are different vine species throughout the world but the one eminently suited to winemaking is vitis vinifera.

The cultivation of vitis vinifera is believed to have emanated from the Middle East thousands of years ago, but it is the adoption of specific grape varieties by later Europeans that concerns us here. Additionally the cosmopolitan nature of the vine has been increased by the devastation of many European vines in the 19th century by a small louse called Phylloxera. To combat such destruction, then and now Phylloxera-resistant rootstock was located, mainly in South America, and grafted onto European vines. There are over one thousand different grapes (or varietals) around the globe, but our course concentrates on a mere dozen or so first division varieties. For white wines we will study Semillon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Müller Thurgau and Muscadet. For the reds Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Gamay, Grenache, Tempranillo, Carignan and Nebbiolo.

Fermentation is the process that converts sugar into alcohol via the addition of yeast. In the past the manufacture of wine was simple if not somewhat chaotic. The bloom on a grape is made up of air borne yeasts and sugar is the major part of the flesh or pulp, introduce one to the other and fermentation commences.

As the flesh of the grape is principally white, white wines can be made from grapes of either colour, by separating the pulp from the skin. In order to provide colour (extract) in red wine, the skin has to remain in contact during fermentation. Such extract provides tannins in the wine and is the foremost agent in a wine’s longevity as a natural preservative.

The grape is a temperate fruit requiring prolonged sunshine and adequate rainfall. Too much or too little of either have an adverse affect. So as a general pointer, most grapes grow within two bands that circle the globe, north and south of the Equator 0º, between 50º and 30º in the north and almost the exact same 50º and 30º in the south. The further north or south you go the preponderance of white grapes increase, with red grapes happier close to the 30º latitudes.


From the early aspects of that miracle we call wine making, the world has encompassed greater scientific understanding on many levels. The latter part of the 20th Century saw innovation abound in its production with a technical expertise that would stagger the humble grape harvesters as little as a century ago.

As a result everyday drinking wines have changed beyond all recognition and the majority are considerably better because of it.

So let’s start the course, begin the adventure together and get on with the tasting.

Welcome aboard!