Harwood The group will meet in an informal friendly environment to discuss and enjoy wine together. Better than drinking alone!

Group Coordinators: Derek Harwood (click to contact)


Once a month. Generally the 2nd Tuesday of each month.

We have started to meet physically again in a member's house.


Our general operating methods are (subject to Covid restrictions):
  • It will meet monthly.
  • It will meet in members’ houses, pubs or venues.
  • There will be a theme selected by the group members (in advance), eg Loire wines.
  • There will be a sign-up for each session with the limit set at the first 10 (if in a member's house). A minimum of eight members will be necessary for each session to meet.
  • The sign-up (ie registration) for each session will open generally just after the last session (ie about three weeks' advance notice). No email notice of sign-up opening will be given — you need to keep an eye on this page if you are keen.
  • In the week before each event there will be an email notice if spaces remain available.
  • Five of those attending each session will be invited to bring a bottle.
  • A guideline price of up to £10.00 per bottle will be followed.
  • The person bringing the bottle will be expected to have researched the providence and present the details to the Group.
  • If meeting in a member's house snacks will be provided by hosts.
  • If meeting in a member's house each person attending, including the host, (and not bringing wine) will pay £10 a session to cover all costs. Any under spend of the £10 per bottle of wine limit will also be added to group funds. Hosts will get food costs reimbursed. Any surplus will be carried forward towards a special evening open to all group members.
  • Outings for meals or to vineyards could be considered by the Group.

You don't need any prior expertise in wine tasting but it is expected that you will have to do some pre-work for each session to support group discussion on the chosen wine topic.

If you are interested in joining this group, please sign into the Beacon members' system here, then under Groups, find and click on Wine Appreciation. There you will see the option of joining online. Please provide your details there. Once you've registered for the group you will receive further information through emails. Or you can send me an email — to the email account link at the top of this page.

Other Information
If you ever wondered what the most popular grape varieties are (out of the 10,000 grape varieties in total) then these are listed here.

What makes wines different? There are a few key factors that influence each wine. These are:
  • Grape variety
  • Weather (at location and direction the vines are facing)
  • Soil (where it is grown)
  • Method
  • Age
Each of these can be broken down further but start by trying to use these parameters to tell different wines apart.
Future Sessions

Tuesday 18 October (sign up open): Australian Wines. Hosted by a member near Highbury Barn.

Tuesday 15 November: details to follow.

Tuesday 13 December: Christmas social. A tutored wine tasting at a Finsbury Park venue. More details available to those that register. £35.00 a ticket (5 wines plus nibbles). Sign up open here.

Our Recent Meetings
September: we tasted Spanish wines at this session. We started with a dry Manzanilla sherry (La Gitana) which some loved and some weren't so keen on. Then we tried a white Rioja followed by two red Riojas. We ended the evening with another sherry, a sweet one from the same winery (Christmas in a bottle!).

: this time we did it as a blind tasting. The theme, as it became apparent, was rosé. The idea was to try to cover, taste, the breadth of rosés available. We were trying to experience the different grape varieties used and countries producing rosés nowadays. We started with a fizzy rosé, then tried four other rosé wines.

July: this time we again sampled some Portuguese wines.

for this session we chose Chilean and Argentinian wines, four Chilean, one Argentinian, two whites, three reds. Some interesting and unusual — the Argentine Malbec was a blend (with the bonarda grape variety); one of the Chilean reds was made from the Carmenere grape — only found nowadays in Chile.

this was an outing to Yield at Newington Green for a tutored tasting. It followed an Italian theme with skin contact an added feature. And if you are thinking 'what's skin contact' see here. We started with a prosecco then the orange, a white and two reds, the last having an alcoholic content of 17%. An interesting range of wines well presented and with hearty discussion between the 20 attending.

we did a blind tasting for this session to consider: "What Affects/Influences a Wine?" As indicated above, there are five main factors. To mix all of these during a blind tasting would have made it too complex so we actually tried to tell between just two of these factors — grape variety and method. The six wines tasted covered two grape varieties, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, and two methods, Old World and New World. Even by trying to limit the range it was surprising the variety of taste even within these common parameters.

South American wines: Two whites (both Chilean) and three reds (two Argentinian, one Chilean). Quite a range of grape and taste but some really good value wines. Lidl wins again with lowest price but good value.

Eastern European wines: While this seemed to create quite a wide range actually all found there was very limited choice in the shops. However, we managed to cover Turkey, Slovakia, Romania and Georgia. While the Georgian artisan red was the most expensive it was rated very poorly by us. On the other hand the Slovakian white ('Krasno') from Majestic achieved the highest score. 

for our first session of 2022 we tasted some 'best of festive drinks'. This started with a prosecco, followed by two whites, a Piquepol Sauvignon blend, then a Viognier, both receiving an equal rating from the group. We then tasted two reds, an Organica Primitivo and then a French Pinot Noir with the Pinot receiving a slightly higher rating.

this was our Christmas Social at Oaks wine bar in Finsbury Park led by the knowledgeable owner, who had picked one sparkling (a rosé Malbec), two whites and two reds. Both whites and both reds used the same grape variety, one being old world, the other new world. So this gave us a great opportunity to discuss the similarities and differences. A good range of nibbles and charcuterie accompanied the excellent wines. 

Christine hosted this one and we had a departure from the norm, not just wine tasting but this time also sherry tasting. However, we also tasted three Riojas. Most preferred the drier (pale) sherry, a Manzanilla, but some were not into sherries in any form. Even the white Riojas split opinion with some liking the Campo Viejo Viura, others preferring the Cune. We now also know why some wines have wire around the bottle (originally a counterfeit prevention method).

October: Kate hosted this session where we tasted two Pinots — Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir (two whites and two reds). The two Gris (one from New Zealand and one from Sicily) were very different, showing the difference possible even with the same grape variety. Some preferred the first, others the second one, again showing how palates are different. For the reds, two were Pinot Noirs, one from New Zealand and the other from France (the original source of this grape). There was closer scoring between these two with a more similar taste, but again some preference for one over the other. 

this was the first of our gatherings back indoors, back to our normal format. Those attending enjoyed the opportunity to again share tasting some good wines while enjoying social contact and conviviality again. The theme was supposed to be 'French wines only', but we ended up with a variety of wines presented. Top score for depth of research and presentation goes to Wendy with her IGP Cotes Catalanes, L'Effect Papillon wine. However, best wine of the evening (scoring 4.25) went to Liz's Viognier also good value at £9.99 from Majestic.

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