Welcome to Mark O’Neill’s Wine Blog

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Many wine lovers are fascinated by wine and have an insatiable urge to learn more.   There are those who are happy to just to enjoy a glass of wine and think nothing of it, but unlike you they don’t read this column.  If you are curious and want to discover more about the wine world then it is a good idea study a wine course. Firstly find the one that is suitable for you.

With so much choice from so many countries, regions, grape varieties, thousands of producers, not to mention having to decipher a wine label, it can is complicated and it takes time and patience to find your way.

A good wine course will give you a solid base in wine and confidence in your ability to taste properly and feel comfortable asking when you do not know about a particular wine.

When I began my career in wine more than 25 years ago I was fortunate because my boss in London ensured that the staff were given an education in wine.  At the bottom of this article you will see that after my name are the letters DipWSET, which stand for Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

The WSET wine courses, which are now offered in seventy countries around the world, provide a solid grounding in all aspects of wine that you will need whether you are a wine lover or a professional in the wine business.

Most of the well known Masters of Wine, such as Jancis Robinson MW and Spanish wine specialists Tim Atkin MW and Sarah Jane Evans MW as well as Spain’s Pedro Ballesteros MW, have been through the WSET programme.

To really appreciate the wines from you home region you have to evaluate them in context with similar wines from around the world.  That requires learning and being aware of the key factors that influence the style and quality of a particular wine.

What are the main characteristics of the most well known grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and how are they influenced by climate and local conditions?

You will learn and understand why a Chardonnay from Burgundy will taste totally different from a wine made from the same grape variety made in Chile, for example.

How to open a bottle of wine properly, most people do it wrongly, to how to taste and then evaluate a wine takes practise but it starts with knowing how to taste and what to look for in each wine.

How to combine wines with food and what are the key factors to bear in mind. Some combinations work better than others, it is interesting and practical to understand why.

My work has given me the opportunity to travel around the world visiting wineries and having tasting thousands of wines.  Studying the WSET programme and achieving a Diploma gave me the broad base of wine knowledge that has been very useful throughout my career.

My career has come full circle and in addition to the other parts of my business I now have a wine school offering students here in Valencia the opportunity study for the WSET courses.  It is fun sharing experiences and tasting many wines from around the world that for the students are new and open the doors to an even more exciting world of wine to discover.

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I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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