I know a number of my Perth-based readers are eager to learn more about what’s in their wine glass. We’re slowly getting more options when it comes to wine appreciation classes and courses in the state. The latest one I was introduced to on the weekend was Canny Grapes who provide fun and educational wine tasting classes at Swallow Bar in Maylands.
Anja Lewis is the passionate wino behind Canny Grapes. After seeing a need for wine education in Perth she has started up regular wine tasting classes at Swallow Bar. The classes are about 2-hours long and aim to take you on a journey through wine.
A big thanks to Anja for inviting me along, I had such a great afternoon. I think 80 photos in 2 hours while drinking and eating shows just how much I enjoyed it + I’m already eager to get to another class!
The Teacher – Anja Lewis
Anja is such a lovely host! She is friendly, bubbly and most of all you can tell she has an undeniable passion for the world of wine! She was born in Germany and has spent time working in the Caribbean on private yachts. Which was where she started to get involved with creating food menus and matching wines to these.
She came out to Australia to become a Dive Master in Exmouth however, long story short, she has ended up living here and decided to professionally follow her passion in wine. If you’re a Swan Valley regular, like myself, then you may have bumped into Anja at the Sandalford or Olive Farm Wines cellar doors.
Alongside her degree in Mechanical Engineering, Anja holds her WSET level 3 certificate. Her plan is to obtain the WSET Diploma and then eventually her Master of Wine qualification – now that’s some serious goals and I can’t wait to follow along her journey!
Anja decided to start Canny Grapes last year in 2016 after becoming one of the 6 finalists in the biannual Vin de Champagne Awards! She is a huge champagne lover – so if you get the chance to attend one of her bubbly classes – do it!
Canny Grapes is all about promoting fun and educational wine tasting classes alongside doing private functions and corporate events.
Anja explained her Swallow Bar ‘tasting classes’, aren’t called ‘masterclasses’ or anything like this as they are ‘tasting classes’ – they’re an opportunity for you to think and learn more about what’s in your glass. I have to agree with her ‘drinking is very different from tasting’ – as I know myself, sometimes I just glugg, however, most times I actually try to think about the wine – its colour, aromas, tastes and its story!
Canny Grapes at Swallow Bar
I can’t explain how excited I was to see that Swallow Bar was offering wine appreciation classes. Mr. Spittoon and I are big fans of this Maylands spot, so having another excuse to visit was more than welcomed!
The wine tasting classes are conducted in the Captains Room which can be shut off from the rest of the bar. It’s a lovely little space that fits 10 eager to learn winos perfectly.
There’s a sparkling or champagne tasting class every month on a weekend afternoon starting at 3pm alongside a Wednesday evening tasting at 6:30pm on various topics. You can always check out the upcoming events on the Canny Grapes website or tune into her Facebook updates.
The 2-hour classes are about $70pp and this includes tasting approximately 6 wines alongside bites to eat from the Swallow Bar kitchen. Plus of course, you have the chance to soak up as much wine knowledge from Anja as possible. As the groups are small (max 10 people) – it means there are plenty of chances to ask questions. The vibe is very laid-back and casual.
When you arrive, each place has a tasting mat with your glasses and sections to write notes for each of the wines you try.
Plus Anja also puts together a lovely little booklet to recap the info she goes over in the class and the booklet also has tasting notes for each of the wines. It’s a great little booklet full of very useful information. Definitely a nice touch!
I also really liked all the extra resources Anja had on hand – maps of the countries we were trying wines from alongside charts on aromas and flavours. It was great she brought along a few of the scents from a wine aroma kit – these are an awesome tool to help hone your senses of smell when it comes to wine!
The Sparkling Wine Tasting Class
As mentioned this is a regular class – the next one is on Saturday the 1st of July. The one in June is purely on Champagne – which will be one not to be missed!
Being a bubbles lover, it was nearly guaranteed I was going to love this class. How could you not enjoy 2 hours of drinking sparkling wine from all around the world?
I really loved the little handout we were given as it has a great overview of the sparkling wine regions covered in the class alongside how to match food with sparkling wine.
We had a great line-up of wines to try on this particular Saturday, they included:
- Julia & Navines Cava Brut – Penedes, Spain
- Andre Delorme Cremant Blanc de Blancs – Burgundy, France
- Sittella 2012 ‘Grand Vintage’ – Pemberton, Western Australia
- Dormilona Clayface Pet Nat – Margaret River, Western Australia
- Antinori Montensia Brut – Franciacorta DOCG, Italy
- Natutilus Cuvee – Marlborough, New Zealand
- Veuve Fourny & Fils Grande Reserve Brut – Champagne, France
Stay tuned to my social media channels as I’m hoping to pop up my tasting notes for each of these!
So not only did we taste awesome wines but we learnt a lot of very cool stuff. I now know that it takes exactly 6 twists to undo the wire cage on a bottle of sparkling/champagne!
Attending a Canny Grape wine tasting class should most definitely be on your Perth bucketlist!
PS: I resisted an espresso martini after the class (even though I think Swallow Bar makes the best ones in Perth) and instead I kept on the sparkling train with a class/bottle of Cava (shared with a friend of course) and as per every visit to Swallow – I ordered some of their salt and rosemary-dusted frites! They’re sooo good!