The insights of a Master of Wine are what truly sets Enoteca Centro apart from other wine bars in Perth. The venue is a summery oasis, hidden away on Wesley Lane behind the historic Uniting Church, a casual Italian-inspired take on the usual inner-city happy hour destinations. But it’s Master of Wine Brendan Jansen’s carefully designed wine list—featuring everything from classic French must-haves to up-and-coming choices from our own Great Southern—and his passion for sharing knowledge and pure enjoyment, that makes it such a special experience.
The minds behind Enoteca Centro have made the smart choice to share Jansen’s knowledge in more ways than just a wine list. They’re offering monthly wine courses, often featuring a different type of wine, like rosé or sparkling, or delving into stories of varieties from a particular region. I was invited to try their Introduction to Wine Tasting course, an inclusive option for both wine connoisseurs and those who have faked their swirl, sniff, and taste based on what they’ve seen in movies (I refuse to admit which category I fall into).
I arrived at the designated time of 6 pm, filtering through the lively venue with the other attendees before being seated at a large table in a secluded part of the bar. Each table setting had a row of wine glasses and an information booklet covering what we were about to learn. Useful, as it’s the sort of environment where you just want to swirl and enjoy, rather than frantically take notes.
Once everyone was settled, the first round of tastings were poured, beginning with sparkling wine. And, as the course included food as well, share plates arrived laden with focaccia, prosciutto, olives, pickles, and balsamic and EVOO dips. Then Jansen stepped forward, dressed sharply and wearing a welcoming smile, he greeted us and dove into his initial wine tasting wisdom.
The Master of Wine began with the details around how and why we swirl, smell, and sip to taste a wine. And as we continued from sparkling through to whites and then reds, he would move from intricate details like the process that creates bubbles in sparkling wine, to sharing simple, practical tips—such as advising us not to drink coffee or wear perfume before a tasting.
With each wine we tasted, Jansen had a story, an insight, a witty joke, or a challenge for us to engage in. He showed us how to spot aged wine from the appearance, pulled up an amusing hand-drawn diagram of a palate, and explained what the different sensations and tastes we were experiencing meant. Even if we couldn’t definitively tell the quality and source of a wine by the end, we were closer to that understanding.
Questions and conversation were welcome, and it was very much a ‘there are no stupid questions’ sort of experience. However, knowledgeable members of the wine industry were also met at their level, as every specific, complex query they had was answered with impressive detail.
A course about wine tasting could easily have been dull and complex, or even pretentious and alienating for anyone not familiar with that world. But in Jansen’s hands it was a joy. He explained everything in an effortless and easy to understand way, as though we were guests at his house and he was simply sharing some thoughts before pouring our next glass.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Address: Shop/10 Wesley Lane 93 William Street, Perth
Mon & Tue – 11.30am–9pm
Sat & Sun closed
Find out more about Enoteca Centro’s specialist wine courses on their website.