Recently I had the opportunity to attend yet another wine tasting, and on this occasion the event hosts had generously organised a series of short classes for a limited number of participant.
Wine Tasting vs Wine Class
There are some subtle differences between wine tastings and wine classes. Whereas in a general tasting you are given free reign to try any and every wine in sight, a wine class will have a much narrower focus, often with the intent of highlighting certain themes related to the wines chosen. Vertical tastings and price tastings are some examples.
Secondly, there will be someone in front of the class to discuss the selected wines and guide discourse amongst the participants. Usually they are a sales representative, winemaker or other respected industry professional.
Wine classes can take on different formats. It could be a short 30-minute tasting covering just a few wines, or it could be a complete course spanning several weeks and a variety of themes and subjects. What you end up signing up for should reflect your level of commitment to learning about the myriad topics related to wine.
As ever, there are some useful guidelines to ensure you learn the most while enjoying the experience:
Most wine classes with provide you with writing materials. Use them to take notes of the wines tasted, and also to jot down any interesting points that the class presenter may have made during the session.
Less Is More
While in some classes the wines will have been poured for you, sometimes they will pass the bottle around to the participants to do their own pouring. In such situations, remember that less is more. Sometimes you will have to share one bottle amongst a large number of class participants, and a few greedy pours will cause some people to miss out.
Spit, Don’t Swallow
Most wine classes will also provide you with personal spit cups. Use them in order to not become inebriated during the class. If you are tempted to swallow a particularly delicious offering, remember to do it in moderation.
Above all, remember that this is a classroom environment. While the atmosphere may be casual and relaxed, be mindful and considerate of others who are actually trying to learn something new, and who would be distracted if a few people were to start whispering loudly or giggling uncontrollably due to forgetting to spit often.
Wine classes are a natural progression from regular tastings, being more directed and focused on subjects beyond aroma and flavour. While most consumers only care about how a wine tastes or smells, a real wine enthusiast will be more interested about a wine’s origins and the techniques and factors involved in bringing this flavour to life.
Read more: Things To Consider When Cellaring Wines