Learn about wine – the best wine classes in 2023
Learning about wine is these days a fun, flexible and convenient experience. There are a range of wine classes available for all levels that can be done from the comfort of your living room through online wine classes, or in-person at events and tastings.
And, the great thing about today’s wine education options is that no matter what level you are at – a novice or a collector, there are courses and events to meet your needs.
The best way to learn is from wine experts and industry veterans such as Mark Oldman, who launched Bevinars during the pandemic to cater to the high demand from those who want to learn about wine.
Bevinars is unique as it offers courses hosted by Oldman in real-time, both virtually through Zoom, as well as in-person wine classes and custom wine events.
For beginners, a standard Wine 101 introductory wine class is a popular first step in wine education, but there are many other wine experiences to be had, including wine courses to learn tips and tricks about wine, how to get the best value from wine at stores and restaurants, and how to store wine.
Here are the top ways to learn about wine
Choose a live virtual/online wine class or an in-person wine event
Like any new skill, practice makes perfect. As such, live virtual events conducted through platforms such as Zoom, or in-person wine classes and wine events are the gateway to your wine education.
Being able to swirl, smell, sip and savour wine, and then discuss it with a group whether virtually or in-person, is really the key to learning about wine.
While there are plenty of companies who offer wine classes and wine courses, these are almost always pre-recorded mass-produced videos that don’t give you the chance to ask questions or immerse yourself in the moment. Learning about wine shouldn’t feel like you are doing it alone. It should keep your focus and be fun and social and engaging.
Be aware that not all virtual or online wine classes are created equal.
Choose a wine class that offers live virtual wine classes, which means they are conducted in real time. This ensures that no class is ever the same – they are all unique and different. The advantage of a live real-time event – whether it is online or in person – is that you are immersed in the moment and much more engaged and focused.
Participants get to ask questions and discuss their observations and preferences, and compare notes with the class.
Through classes you also get to try different wines and varieties, and you learn how to really pay attention to their aromas, flavors, and textures.
Read wine books
While tasting and smelling wine is essential to really expanding your wine education, it’s helpful to also read books and articles about wine. A range of books are available to suit all levels. Look for beginner-friendly books that cover the basics of wine, including grape varieties, wine regions, production methods, and tasting techniques. Some popular wine books for beginners include Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book, and Mark Oldman’s Outsmarting Wine.
Watch wine videos on YouTube or TikTok
Wine experts and sommeliers are these days trying to make learning about wine more accessible. Want to know how to open a bottle of champagne with ease or why you should always chill red wine, there are short videos to show you.
Drop in on wine tastings
Liquor stores can be a great way to expand your wine education. Tastings are often conducted to showcase a brand, or a wine variety. Get to know the staff at your local liquor staff to find out about upcoming tastings. Also subscribe to local stores in your area to get a calendar of events.
Attend wine festivals or events
Check websites for any upcoming wine events. Also, wine festivals often feature top speakers. Among them the Aspen Food and Wine, where Mark Oldman is the most popular speaker. These events provide opportunities to taste and learn about wines in a more focused and in-depth manner. They are led by winemakers, sommeliers, or wine educators who share their expertise and passion.
Sign up to Wine Clubs
Join a wine club where you can receive regular shipments of wines curated by experts. Do your homework on the best ones or get recommendations from friends or colleagues. These clubs usually provide tasting notes and background information to enhance your wine knowledge. It’s a great way to explore different wines and expand your palate, and can be the perfect pairing when you are participating in a wine class or wine course.
Going to the source of the wine is a fun and enriching experience – and will greatly boost your wine education. Organized tours to wine regions are often on offer, or get a group of like-minded friends, find a designated driver and plan a visit to a wine region. Many wineries offer tours, tastings, and educational sessions where you can learn about their winemaking process, vineyards, and specific wine styles. Take the opportunity to ask questions and deepen your understanding of wine. Plus, tours generally always end with a tasting and the opportunity to purchase from the cellar door.
Benefits of learning about wine
“I know nothing about wine” is the classic sheepish refrain uttered by many people at restaurants and in wine stores. Indeed, wine can feel intimidating, especially at a restaurant when you are handed a 10-page wine menu, or in a wine store where you are bombarded with wine types, regions, brands and price tags.
Thankfully learning about wine no longer requires enrolling in an intensive 10-week course (although they are still on offer) as some of the best wine classes are available.
Wine education is beneficial on a personal, social and professional level. It’s great to be able to walk into a liquor store and have some wine knowledge, or open a wine list at a restaurant and not feel intimidated.
Here’s why you should learn about wine:
Wine classes are fun
Firstly, a wine class is the chance to taste different varieties and styles of wine, and decide the ones you like and loathe. It is an immersive experience that is also social and a chance to meet new people. Apart from the fun factor, you are also learning about wine, and all that new wine knowledge will be extremely helpful at your next lunch or dinner, and at the liquor store when you are buying wine for yourself or to take to a party.
Wine classes enhance your dining experience
Knowing how to pair the right wines with different foods can take your dining experience to the next level. Wine classes are often available that offer food and wine pairing. Another option is to create a custom wine event for a group, or as a gift for someone special. This enables participants to be more closely involved in choosing the wines for the event and food. It’s also a great gift or way to celebrate a birthday or anniversary.
Wine education can save you money
Wine classes will teach you the tips of the trade, including how to avoid overpaying for wine, how to find the best tasting wine for a bargain price, how to get value for money at restaurants and how to “outsmart” the wine menu. Knowing the wine varieties and regions that offer the best bang for your buck and also taste great will not only impress your friends but save you money at the cash register.
If you work in a job where you are entertaining clients at business lunches or dinners, having a strong wine knowledge can be very beneficial – and in some cases, it can help you seal the deal. There is a reason why universities such as Stanford and Harvard offer wine appreciation courses. Being confident in choosing a great bottle of wine at a business lunch that will impress clients. Plus wine is a great talking point and conversation starter.
Meet new people and network
Wine classes are a chance to socialize and start a conversation with someone. Wine classes often create a social atmosphere where participants can interact with like-minded individuals who share a common interest in wine. It provides a platform for networking, making new friends, and engaging in discussions about wine-related topics.
Wine Education and Appreciation
You can expand your knowledge and develop a deeper appreciation for wine as you explore various regions, grape varieties, and winemaking traditions.
Wine classes allow participants to indulge in the sensory experience of tasting different wines and discovering new flavors, aromas, and textures. It can be a fun and engaging, and become a hobby that can you take you around the world to wine regions. It’s fun to use wine knowledge to develop your sensory skills, refine your palate, and cultivate a deeper understanding of personal preferences when it comes to wine.
How to sign up
Remember, learning about wine through a wine class or a wine course is easy and does not have to involve a long commitment or expensive course. Find a class that is engaging, good value and information-packed – and see how you like it. The only way to truly learn about wine is through tasting and exploring from an expert. Develop an open and curious mindset, be willing to taste new wine varieties, and take pleasure in the journey of discovering the world of wine.