Enjoying wine is all about diving into the minute details. There are very few things in life that require as much attention as tasting a fine wine. The more you know about grape varieties, regions, producers, climate, soils, and vintages, the more you find when you stick your nose in a wine glass.
Many of us love wine because it is an alcoholic drink, yes, and because every drop of wine holds a secret. For those trained in the art of wine tasting, finding those secret aromas and scents is a real treat! Tasting wine is a multi-sensory endeavor and requires lots of practice. The best way to polish your tasting skills is by taking a class or enrolling in a specialized course. There are dozens of ways to do this, but these are our picks to start you on the never-ending path to wine knowledge.
The Ultimate Directory of Wine Schools in America
Want to attend a virtual wine tasting with one of the top wine educators in America? Then check out our list of the top online wine classes.
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Wine Classes Near You
The best way to learn about wine is to attend wine classes at a local wine school. There are top-notch schools in nearly every state of the union. From Maine to Oregon, the U.S. is awash in wine education! We offer a list of all the top wine schools, each rated for the quality of their programming. Many offer one-night classes and even programs that will earn you a sommelier certification. However, if you are not near an accredited wine school, don’t worry. The following is a list of some of the best options, no matter where you are.
Wine Spectator School
The famous wine magazine is well-positioned both in print and online. Its mobile offers professional insight and wine reviews. Wine Spectator also offers a comprehensive catalog of wine courses covering everything from wine regions to basic wine theory. Their ABCs of Wine Tasting course and their Sensory Evaluation course are great ways to fine-tune your senses. The courses are part of the benefits of owning a membership to winespectator.com.
Jancis Robinson’s Udemy course
Udemy has proven to be a reliable source of online learning material for all topics, from marketing to engineering. Wine is extensively covered, and all-around quality is outstanding. Student reviews help you identify time-worthy courses from unreliable ones, and a five-star system adds to consumer confidence. There’s one Udemy wine course you don’t want to miss: “Mastering Wine – Jancis Robinson’s Shortcuts to Success.” This delivers three and a half hours of wine knowledge from the best in the industry.
WSET Level 1 Award in Wines
A few courses are as complete as the Wine and Spirits Education Trust program when it comes to wine tasting. Designed to start you in a career as a wine professional, the first stages are pretty accessible and straightforward. Analyzing wine with their on-point tasting sheet will separate you from other wine amateurs. The WSET has a serious approach to wine evaluation, and its trademark Systematic Approach to Tasting is guaranteed to refine your tasting skills. It is also the only course authorized for those who aspire to become Masters of Wine.
Wine Tasting Books
Courses, both face-to-face and online, are not for everyone. Many people learn best in their own rhythm. Many wine-tasting books will help you develop your analytic skills without spending a minute in class. If we had to choose just one, we’d go for the best seller, Wine Folly’s The Essential Guide To Wine. This colorful book teaches you to taste wine and reveals different grape profiles in an easy-to-understand manner. Wine Folly might make wine look simple, but its guidance won’t steer you wrong.
Online Wine Classes
There are a handful of wine schools that offer fantastic virtual wine classes. For the full list, check it out here: The Best Online Wine Classes. Since the pandemic, the quality of virtual wine tastings has simply rocketed. We never expected online wine classes would be as great (and successful) as they are now.
Other wine tasting experiences
If you’re lucky enough to live in or close to a winemaking region, you’ll easily find professionals and enthusiasts in your community . An excellent way to find wine tasting classes is by enrolling in Airbnb experiences. These classes are often personal and insightful, whether you’re planning a trip abroad or indulging in a stay-cation.
Wine retailers like Total Wine & More schedule wine tasting classes in their stores regularly. This might not be the most academic environment, but the staff and their wine tasters often have a good degree of wine knowledge. These experiences are also great ways to try new wines and wine styles you would not typically buy yourself.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of wine resources. There are many ways to polish your wine tasting skills if you have the patience and passion for it. Remember that tasting wine is a social activity, and as long as there are two wine lovers around, there will be plenty of opportunities to taste and learn!