A glass of wine with Victoria Aldwinckle

A glass of wine with Victoria Aldwinckle

The Kent Wine School partner is a Spanish aficionado but has a love of English sparkling

First things first, what are you drinking?

At the moment, with all the lovely sunshine, I’ve been enjoying lighter styles of wines –a crisp, zippy, slightly sparkling Vinho Verde from northern Portugal is one of my favourites.

Tell us about your wine journey – how did you come to co-run Kent Wine School?  

Almost by accident!  Having worked for wineries in the US and UK, I wanted to move into wine education so started freelancing for Sussex Wine School, owned by Jonny Gibson, that formed part of the Local Wine School network.  Kent Wine School – as a business – was still available, so in April 2018 we bought the company to run wine education throughout Kent. 

Tell us a bit about the school… 

It’s complete focus is on great quality wine education, through tasting.  We’re an independent company so there is no wine promotion or sales – we simply want our students to learn about vineyards, regions, grapes and wine making through tasting a great range of wines.  There are courses for everyone– expert or beginner – and in every style from one-off evenings so professional qualifications to help you with a career in wine.  We also cover a lot more than just wine – courses include food & wine pairings; fizz evenings; vintage Port tasting; Gin tasting; Whisky evening – maybe even beer soon!

How have you evolved the business during lockdown?

The focus and core of the business has remained the same – wine education. We now offer virtual wine tastings covering a wider range of themes which include a 45 min interactive presentation, expert led wine tasting (the wine is delivered to your door!) and a very sociable zoom session afterwards for everyone to continue chatting. This summer we are launching a ‘wine holiday’ series of tastings to ‘transport’ you to your chosen holiday destination for a couple of hours via wine tasting – lots of cultural tales, anecdotes, gorgeous photos and expert-led wine education.

Kent Wine School tastings usually take place at Hotel Du Vin in Tunbridge Wells

For those who are interested in learning more about wine, where should they start?

If you are after a basic, all round wine course, our eight week World of Wine is a perfect place to start. No assumed knowledge, wine tasting from the beginning and a great insight into the world of wine as we ‘tour’ the key wine regions & taste the major grapes.  For those wanting a certificate, the WSET programme could be the place to start – globally recognised and wonderfully written.

What’s your favourite local wine?  

My absolute favourite is Fox & Fox sparkling Pinot Meunier – so different and so good!

Where’s your favourite place to drink wine?  

My garden (when my children are asleep and in bed!) or by the sea.

Favourite person/people to drink wine with?  

My husband, Mum and sister – sounds soppy but we have the best conversations over a bottle of wine and dinner!

What’s your favourite wine memory?  

Tasting the first batch of Cabernet Sauvignon wine that I’d made in Washington State – straight out of the barrel. We tasted it first as juice, then as young wine, then as wine that had partial oak barrel aging.  A great memory!

What wine has surprised you the most?

Is it cheating to name a grape, not a wine? In general Pinot Noir.  It comes in so many guises with such a range of aromas and flavours.  It’s really beguiling and slightly mysterious because it doesn’t scream “drink me!” like a more approachable Merlot or Malbec does. You have to work at it a bit but it’s worth it.

What’s your favourite wine and food combo?  

I love being by the sea so my ultimate heaven would be a massive three-tier platter of Fruits des Mers and a crisp Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur Lie.  Ideally in a very small waterside restaurant.  With a babysitter booked….

Finally, if you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would that be?

I am a sucker for a glass of bubbles so I would have to opt for a very good Cava, as I am also a Spanish aficionado! A great quality Cava from Penedes or maybe a newer style from Rioja would be perfect.

For more information about Kent Wine School’s tastings and courses, visit kentwineschool.com/

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