Wine Education Enhances Your Enjoyment and Skills
People who enjoy wine usually enjoy learning about wine as well. They find that it enhances their overall social experience and enables them to interact knowledgeably with other wine enthusiasts.
Wine education is not intended to be pretentious; unless you are in classes to become a wine professional, it can offer a depth of knowledge that allows wine drinkers to sharpen their skills and determine the types and styles they personally enjoy. Through tastings, classes and courses led by industry professionals, participants get to sample both favorites and new varieties, learn about wine and food pairings, and take advantage of ideal opportunities to ask questions.
Here are a number of places you can go to learn more about wine:
Chain Bridge Cellars
Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Virginia offers two types of wine classes: the One Sip at a Time Series and Spotlight classes.
“One Sip at a Time is designed for people seeking general wine education, especially in what they do and do not like about wine,” explained owner Doug House. “Each class focuses on a general wine education topic.”
A recent class featured Old World vs. New World reds where participants tasted samples of each and rated them using a tasting tool House developed that rates wines on eight different criteria. At the end of a class, people generally discover patterns in their preferences: some like low-to-moderate acidity, while others like lots of super-ripe fruitiness.
One Sip at a Time classes are $25 each, run approximately 90 minutes and include wine tastings of up to 8 wines, light food for pairings, and lots of discussion. Those interested should look into the store’s Class Passport that offers six seats at One Sip at a Time for a package price of $100. (It’s like getting one class free!) These seats can be used individually or all at once if you want to bring friends. The 2017 class schedule is posted online at www.chainbridgecellars.com.
Chain Bridge Cellars also offers Spotlight Sessions that shine a focused light on one aspect of wine and the wine world. Upcoming classes include Pomerol, St. Emilion and Satellites: Exploring Bordeaux’s Right Bank on March 16th. The most popular Spotlight Sessions are their annual Champagne classes held each December. Prices for these classes range from about $30 to $60, depending upon the content, and include light snacks. Advance registration is highly encouraged as these classes sell out quickly.
All wine classes at Chain Bridge Cellars are led by Diane McMartin, a graduate of the accelerated wine program at the Culinary Institute at Gravestone in Napa, California.
Chain Bridge Cellars
1351 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, VA
Foodie-U Wine School at Little Washington Winery
Little Washington Winery in Washington, Virginia offers another way to experience wine, with approximately five classes offered each weekend.
“Our classes are especially designed for food and wine enthusiasts, explained co-owner Donna Henrickson. “Each class is a one- to two-hour exploration of a specific topic. They’re fun, they’re unpretentious, and they offer straight talk in plain English all about pairing, exploring and enjoying food and wine.” Classes are taught by their winemakers and sommelier and participants receive a passport that can track which classes they have taken. Once students have completed four classes, they earn a free class.
Foodie-U classes feature a Wine Bootcamp led by co-owner/winemaker Carl Henrickson that includes a molecular pairing experiment, a chocolate pairing session and the Dirt Road Wine Tour. Other classes can include Cheesology; Triple Threat Chocolate Cheese &Wine; Around the World in 80 minutes; Dessert & Wine Pairings; and The World of Malbecs. Visit the Little Washington Winery website (www.littlewashingtonwinery.com) for a complete listing, an online calendar of class dates, and online reservations; reservations are not taken via phone or email. Classes are $40 per person.
Little Washington Winery
72 Christmas Tree Lane, Washington, VA
Total Wine and More
Even more ways to learn about wine are found at Total Wine and More, located on Chain Bridge Road in McLean. Learn more about specific producers, regions and varietals at free Weekly Wine Tastings, held each weekend with a different theme that includes up to eight wines. Or attend a wine class and learn about the basics of wine tasting and different wine regions of the world.
Upcoming classes include: Undercover Vines: Class of the Tannins, where you put your wine skills to the test to identify unlabeled wines by color, acidity and aroma to determine Old World from New World styles; Vive la France, featuring the marvelous range of often-overlooked wines of the Loire Valley to the elegant Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs of Burgundy; and Total Wine & Cheese: A Guide to Perfect Pairings that demonstrates the composition of wine and cheese, main types of cheese and easy pairing tips. Classes are $20.00 per person.
Total Wine & More
1451 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, VA
Capital Wine School
Washington’s Capital Wine School offers courses and tastings for every level of wine enthusiasts and professionals. Classes here are fun and unpretentious, while offering depth of knowledge and insight for those seeking to learn more about wine.
For enthusiasts, upcoming Wine Tasting Courses and Classes include Introduction to Wine Basics; Essential Blind Tasting Skills; March Madness: Barolo vs. Brunello; Alpine Wines from Italy, Austria, Switzerland & France; and Wines of Mediterranean France. Many courses are led by wine consultant Michael Franz, who has conducted more than 1,000 site visits and tastings at wineries around the world.
For the professional, the Capital Wine School offers Sommelier Classes & Courses, Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) certifications and courses, and Wine Business Classes. Region-specific courses like Italian or French Wine Scholar Guild Certification programs are also presented. Fees vary.
Whether it’s a passion or a vocation, there’s always more to learn about wine. Learn, taste, and ask questions, but always keep in mind wine’s true purpose: to be enjoyed and shared.
Capital Wine School
5207 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC