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Can anyone recommend a good, thorough wine tasting class? My wine knowledge is woefully limited, and I would love to bone up. Ideally, I'd like a multi-class course, because I think only so much could be imparted in one evening. Based on some internet research, it looks like l'Academie de Cuisine offered one earlier this Fall, but no beginner's course is on their schedule coming up. I also saw a reference to the Washington Wine Academy hosting courses like this, but their website doesn't mention any now.

If I have to wait 'til next year, so be it. But I thought I'd see if anyone has any advice.

Thanks!

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TasteDC.com - We have a Wine Basics 101 class on Wednesday, November 16th at the Washington Wyndham Hotel - I'm the teacher, it's pretty good! We don't teach other "classes" very often but we hold quite a few wine tastings and festivals and sometimes you can order the wine you've tasted at very special prices. You should also check out The List which lists many food and wine events in our area.
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I highly recommend Rob Stewart's "Wine Captain's Course" which he puts on about three times a year - it's about 8 weeks and it is fun and educational - lots of tasting, little quizes to make sure you pay attention, and Rob's commentary is the perfect combination of entertainment and education. Email him at winehead@earthlink.net and ask to be placed on his email list for tasting class schedules.

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I took a condensed version of the Window's on The World Wine course years ago that was required for work. The book is excellent if it is still available. Even though I took this course and have been to countless wine tastings, I know what I like, but I am deficient at describing. I wonder if there is any couse that can help with that?

Edited by RaisaB
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I took a condensed version of the Window's on The World Wine course years ago that was required for work. The book is excellent if it is still available. Even though I took this course and have been to countless wine tastings, I know what I like, but I am deficient at describing. I wonder if there is any couse that can help with that?

Spend a week (or two) at the CIA campus in Napa for their Mastering Wine I (or II) class(es). Great classes!

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I just got an email from a friend of mine - anyone have any suggestions? (He said I could cut-and-paste it here)

Cheers,

Rocks

Hi Don –

A friend from work is looking for a gift for her stepson.  I have pasted part of her email message to me:

He loves wine tasting and has done several classes – so he isn’t a true beginner.  I thought he would think it was neat if he could get his “certified wine specialist” certification, and I wanted to pay for the course.  But, I cant find a course.  I can find a study guide to help you prepare for it, and I have seen where you can take classes at a culinary school, but I just don’t know anything about what I am looking for.  Could you ask one of your friends what they would suggest he do to get his certification – or if they know of any seminars, conferences, etc that could be fun to go to?  I was thinking in the 500-600 range.

If you know of anything, please let me know. Thanks! (maybe he can simply follow you around for a month!)

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I'm telling ya, check out Rob Stewart's class - it's great for beginners and sophisticates - hell, I even learned a few things at his advanced burgundy class . :lol:

I agree, Rob's class is very good. There is a lot to learn but if you do the "homework" then you will end the class with a good knowledge of wine. The best part is the amount of different wine you get to taste, approx. 12 different wines a night. The best part is that he doesn't just buy cheap wine, in the Bordeaux and Burgundy class, you definitely get your money's worth.

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I agree, Rob's class is very good.  There is a lot to learn but if you do the "homework" then you will end the class with a good knowledge of wine.  The best part is the amount of different wine you get to taste, approx. 12 different wines a night.  The best part is that he doesn't just buy cheap wine, in the Bordeaux and Burgundy class, you definitely get your money's worth.

I sent an email asking about the next set of classes, but have heard nothing. Anyone happen to know when the next classes are being offered?

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I second Rob Stewarts class. I took it and man did I learn a lot. So much fun, and informative as well. the TasteofDC thing covers just basics that most people already know, this Wine Captains course opens new worlds of wine and port to you.

I don't get the e-mails anymore, but I think it's around $400 for 8 weeks, about 4 times a year it's offered.

That winehead e-mail address is what I remember it being, but they never were really good with the technology stuff.

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Just received an email with the latest info (below) for Rob Stewart's class that has been mentioned above.

The Sommelier Wine & Food Society – Wine Captain’s Course – Spring 2007

Wine is the oldest, most fascinating, health-giving beverage known to man. Throughout the ages wine has provided man with solace in time of trouble, relief in time of sickness, and joy in time of celebration.

Learning to appreciate and understand wine enhances our lives in many diverse ways. To improve our understanding of wine, we offer a comprehensive and intensive, fun-filled nine-week course.

The course materials and presentation are designed to provide those interested in wine with a fundamental knowledge of wine. Each week, a different and exciting wine region will be discussed, and appropriate wines will be tasted.

As part of our exploration of wine we will discuss all aspects of proper storage of wine, as well as how to buy wine in stores and restaurants. Special attention will also be paid to “wine speak” – The vocabulary of wine.

The course will include:

  • Textbook
  • Tasting 12 – 14 wines per class

You will experience:

  • Intro and Component Tasting
  • The Wines of the Loire Valley, Rhone & Southern France
  • Bordeaux: The Quality & Price Revolution
  • Burgundy: Finding True Value
  • Germany, Alsace & Austria: New Found Excitement
  • Promising “New” Vinicultural Areas including: Italy, Spain, Australia, South America & Portugal
  • California: New developments in the Golden State& Other Emerging US Areas
  • Champagne & Sparkling Wine & Dessert & Fortified Wines

Instructors: Rob Stewart & Lisa Chedister

Cost is $495 00 per person includes everything

Mondays, 7:30pm – 9:30pm, March 5– April 30, 2007

L’ Enfant Plaza Hotel – Metro is L’Enfant Plaza Metro and there is abundant street parking. 480 L’Enfant Plaza, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20037

Contact – Rob or Lisa at winehead@earthlink.net or 703 – 685 – 7970

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I just got an email from a friend of mine - anyone have any suggestions? (He said I could cut-and-paste it here)

Cheers,

Rocks

If you know of anything, please let me know. Thanks! (maybe he can simply follow you around for a month!)

Certified Wine Specialist is the Society of Wine Educators. It's a more basic certification they introduced a few years ago for people who don't want to do the more rigorous Certified Wine Educator program.

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We are "wine idiots" and we wanted to upgrade to "wine morons", so we looked into wine classes around DC and settled on Taste DC's Wine Basics 101. For $55 per person, the class was to teach 170 people how to recognize the different types of wine so you could start figuring out what you like and how to pair wines with meals. The class was led by Taste DC's president Charlie Adler, and it started promisingly. We sat in tables of 8 and each person had in front of them a notes sheet listing the night's wines plus four glasses of white wine. Charlie started walking us through the process of approaching a wine (checking color, swirling to release aroma, sniffing for fruits and herbs, snorgling if you're "fancy", and drinking) using a Sauvignon Blanc. Everything seemed very organized and focused by helping notice the aroma of grapefruit and fresh cut grass and the taste of sour Jolly Ranchers. We were so optimistic. But all logic broke loose after that.

For the remaining three white wines, we starting jumping between the three wines without much direction or clear purpose (though I'm sure HE knew where he was going). But I still managed to get clear descriptions of the four white wines and their varietals (ha! learned that term--though I'm sure I misspelled it). After the four white wines, there was a 10 minute break to clean glasses and prepare the 4 red wines. Though my worksheet has notes furiously written all over the margins with important concepts about wine (e.g. reason for price differences, different wine raters, difference between France and CA wines), these concepts overwhelmed our discussion of the different red wines. As a result, I really have no clear notes about the differences between a Chianti, a Chiraz, or a Tempranillo. Especially after the break, Adler was totally manic, sometimes pushed off topic by audience questions but mostly taking personal tangents with wandering asides and goofy jokes. Someone in an Advanced Wine for Patients on Lithium course might have followed, but the crowd clearly struggled. At one point a clearly frustrated person at my table burst out to us, "If he would stop talking about such stupid shit..." As a teacher, too, it showed how important visuals are to organize both the speaker and the class, especially one so large and so in need of direction. Adler was actually giving us lots of important info, but it was so burried and convoluted in other crap that it was hard to get basic concepts let alone higher order connections. We difinitely got something out of it, but it could be much better.

You winos out there might be interested in what they selected for us to taste, so I'll do my best to not butcher these names:

1) Drylands Marlboroough Sauvignon Blanc 2006

2) J&HA Strub Niersteiner Bruckchen Riesling Kabinett 2005

3) Pierrette et Marc Guillemot-Michel Quintaine Macon-Villages 2004

4) Edna Valley Vinyard 2005 Chardonnay Paragon

5) Venta Mazzaron Tempranillo

6) Fontodi Chianti Classico 2003

7) Chateau La Croix de Roche e2005 Bordeaux Superieur

8) Step Road Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2004

Pax,

Brian

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How are the classes so far?
The classes are excellent- each class focuses on a region and you taste about 10-14 wines a class. We have done 2 out of our 3 classes- they let you make up in future sessions and both were excellent. The first class more time is spent speaking about wine production than tasting, but the second class we did a lot more tasting. Rob is an excellent teacher and Lisa is excellent as well. Very highly reccomended.
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Does anyone know of any place that hosts regular wine tastings? I usually drink whatever wine JPW serves me (or those at restaurants recommend) and I'd like to build my knowledge of wine beyond the usual suspects that I always tend to order. Thanks! (of course it might help too if I paid more attention to what it was I was drinking :angry: )

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Does anyone know of any place that hosts regular wine tastings? I usually drink whatever wine JPW serves me (or those at restaurants recommend) and I'd like to build my knowledge of wine beyond the usual suspects that I always tend to order. Thanks! (of course it might help too if I paid more attention to what it was I was drinking :angry: )

Friday and Saturday afternoons you will find most serious wine stores have a few bottles open for sampling and tasting. Way back when I did retail, there was a group of people who made a circuit every Saturday afternoon getting a free buzz on.

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Friday and Saturday afternoons you will find most serious wine stores have a few bottles open for sampling and tasting. Way back when I did retail, there was a group of people who made a circuit every Saturday afternoon getting a free buzz on.
They still do the circuit, and I don't think any of them have ever purchased a bottle from one of the retailers.
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They still do the circuit, and I don't think any of them have ever purchased a bottle from one of the retailers.

hinting at the problem with trying to learn to taste at a wine store. instead, go to the wine store and buy a wine; red and white, from one country, continent, or region a week, or compare the same varietal from two or threee different places. this will quickly identify structural differences, and then research the areas to find more about its labeling laws and geographical and historical attributes, and little quirky facts. gets expensive, but who said learning was ever free :angry:

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Oh, those "tasting mavens," as my coworker calls them exist in DROVES-- but they usually don't get in the way, and while I agree with Wineguy's advice (doing that with Windows on the World at my side is how I learned in the beginning), don't write off the tastings altogether. I've found that several of the sales reps that do the majority of our tastings to be quite knowledgeable and willing to talk. If nothing else you get the chance to taste out the route you'd like to take in learning on your own dime, which can be quite helpful.

hinting at the problem with trying to learn to taste at a wine store. instead, go to the wine store and buy a wine; red and white, from one country, continent, or region a week, or compare the same varietal from two or threee different places. this will quickly identify structural differences, and then research the areas to find more about its labeling laws and geographical and historical attributes, and little quirky facts. gets expensive, but who said learning was ever free :angry:
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While not a class, we are offering Wine Wednesday- 3 - 3oz pours of wine with a antipasto trip for $25. We have writtend descritpions of the wine and an explanation of what makes them unique. Each week features a different spotlight- either unusual grapes from a given area, a single type of wine (say rosso di Montalcino or the reds of Puglia etc) ar a feature of a single winery (the unusual wines of COS from Sicily is coming up. We are also considering wine classes but have not scheduled them yet. Stay tuned.

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[Foot in mouth]

... well, of course that's also a term of endearment!

No, but obviously there is a difference between "regulars" and the afforementioned "mavens." You, Brett (Ashley?), and anyone else willing to learn are always more than welcome. Thanks for the business!

And yes, running the risk of putting my foot in my mouth AGAIN-- some of our reps are decidely "not" in every conceivable way. Should there be any present company, you are of course excluded :angry:

Outing myself as a "tasting maven" of Rob's store. Some reps are quite knowledgeable, and personable, too. Some are neither. But it is a good way to determine what you like, what you don't and to find something new you didn't know you liked.
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For anyone interested in tasting wines -- Cecile's Fine Wine in McLean (1351 Chain Bridge Rd) is having a "Wine Festival & Tent Sale" today (Saturday) and tomorrow (Sunday) from 12pm-4:30pm. I was there today. It's free, and a great way to taste a lot of wines. They have a tent set up outside next to the store. Today, they have 6 tables of wines (24 wines total) and 1 table of sausages from Simply Sausage. Tomorrow, their list says they'll have 28 other wines for tasting as well as the Simply Sausage table. (Click for details including list of wines).

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If you want to learn more about wines, the Curious Grape in Shirlington offers free wine seminars in their store which I've found to be worthwhile. I recently took their seminars on vintages and sherries. For each one, they gave everyone a taste of wine with a paired taste of cheese/sausage/chocolate as they discuss the topic and each wine and pairing. We tasted 7 wines for the vintages seminar and 8 wines for the sherries seminar. As a wine beginner, I thought it was a great way to learn more about wines, and the best part is that it's free. You just have to make a reservation. Note that you're standing during the seminar so wear comfortable shoes (like if you're coming straight from work and have on heels). Also, their seminars are not always on their website so I would recommend signing up for their email list to get notices of all the seminars. (They don't have a signup on their website, I signed up at the store).

Their next seminar is the first of a five part Burgundy seminar. (click for website and scroll down for details) Here's an excerpt from their description:

Explore the ins and outs of this famous region, with a focus on finding the best values that the area has to offer. Reserve now to joins us for the first session in the series: Burgundy Basics & Chablis, Tuesday, October 30 at 6 & 7 pm and Saturday, November 3 at 1 pm....Each seminar will be presented by a Certified Wine Educator or Certified Specialist of Wine from the Curious Grape staff. Not only will you enjoy an information-packed session, you'll also receive excellent, handy reference materials, plus you'll enjoy the tasting bar discount on your favorite wines in the tasting! While the session is FREE, space is limited, so reservations are required. To reserve, give us a call at 703-671-8700 (no email reservations please).
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For my 30th birthday (way back in February) my parents offered to pay to send me to wine school... are there any good comprehensive classes in the area? Something more than the $15 tasting at Wegman's?

Or should I just go to Ray's and have Mark bring me one of everything?

Can't get them to spring for a week class at Greystone? I had some info on a local course, let me dig it up.

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You already see these?

Capital Wine School

Washington Wine Academy

I post without any recommendation. Hopefully others can chime in on that.

Both these offer the Wine & Spirit Education Trust certification courses (www.wsetglobal.com). They offer intermediate, advance and diploma courses. The Capital Wine School is run by Jay Youmans who is one of two (I believe) Master of Wines in the DC area. Excellent courses...I highly recommend.

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Both these offer the Wine & Spirit Education Trust certification courses (www.wsetglobal.com). They offer intermediate, advance and diploma courses. The Capital Wine School is run by Jay Youmans who is one of two (I believe) Master of Wines in the DC area. Excellent courses...I highly recommend.

I second that.

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