Christmas gift (in March!)
Hint. Hint. For the wine lover's lover.
Give the gift that lasts.
Wine weekend: starts €495.

(Also, below: Faustino 1 gift set €99
and Pandora Bell hampers form €29.99)

2nd – 4th March 2012
Mary Dowey’s Weekend Wine Course has become a firm fixture on the spring calendar at Ballymaloe House, Co Cork twice yearly for the past 11 years. Guests come from far and wide to learn the essentials of wine appreciation while enjoying superb food, great wines and good company in one of Ireland’s loveliest country houses.
Mary’s Introduction to Wine Appreciation  is suitable for anybody who enjoys wine and would like to know more about it. The course focuses on key grape varieties. Besides quickly mastering the characteristics of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir, guests will learn how to recognise quality, buy wisely, serve and store wines correctly and match them with the most suitable foods.  ‘The wine-tasting weekend was fantastic and we will highly recommend it to our friends.’  Emma-Jane Dockery, Dublin 
Listed among the Top 10 Wine Courses in the UK & Ireland by the Daily Telegraph, and Lonely Planet Top 10 Weekend Breaks. Ballymaloe House is also recipient of the Georgina Campbell Wine Award of the Year 2010.
Mary Dowey ( has built up a large following through her enthusiastic and refreshingly unstuffy approach. She is wine editor of The Gloss magazine and a contributor to the internationally acclaimed wine magazine Decanter, having been wine correspondent of The Irish Times 1995-2005. She has visited most of the world’s major wine-producing regions and is the author of several books including Food and Wine – Matching Made Simple and 101 Great Wines Under €12.

Wine Weekend Format

Friday evening:  welcome aperitif, dinner with specially chosen wines and brief talk
Saturday: wine course all day (9.30am – 4.30pm) with lunch, afternoon tea and a six-course wine-tasting dinner in the evening
Sunday morning: champagne and sparkling wine workshop (10am -12.30pm) 

Wine Weekend Packages  (course open to both residents and non-residents)
€495pp standard room; €595pp superior room, all inclusive of the following:
2 nights bed & breakfast; with Friday dinner and wine talk; Saturday all-day wine course with lunch, afternoon tea and gala dinner; Sunday morning champagne workshop. It is also open of to non-residents - and the price for that is €295 per person, which includes everything as already listed, except of course, bed & breakfast.

Gift vouchers available: the ideal birthday or Christmas gift for a wine-lover.  

Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co. Cork. Tel: 00 353 (0)21 4652531
E-mail:  Website and online booking:

Faustino 1 - 3 bottle wood giftNow, if he or she is not worth the €500, don't worry. If you spend 99 euro, you can get a gift that can be shared on the spot and you don't have to wait until March. I'm talking about the Faustino 1, Gran Reserva 3 bottle wood gift set.  This  Spanish icon, which was first released in 1964, is one of the greatest traditionally styled Gran Reservas. Thirty months in French and American oak and at least three years in the bottle results in a wonderful combination of complexity and harmony. This wine is the perfect accompaniment for all your festive meals. Serve with stewed meat, roasts, sautéed seasonal vegetables, chicken confit, pork cooked in the wine or mushrooms. The box is available in independent outlets for €99.99.

No wine drinker in the house? Not to worry. Why not try Limerick's Pandora Bell. Nicole has a range of luxurious hampers, featuring her fantastic nougat creations and more, with prices from €30 to 50. Check them out here.