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Locating Wine Tasting Classes in New York City

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - Updated 4/28/2011 - www.Littleviews.com ]

Wine in basket

>>  Wine tasting is a wonderful way to spend time with friends, meet new people, get a little high (if you like to swallow), and return home with an education (if you can still remember the details).

Tuition at serious wine appreciation schools can climb to $800 or more. Prices in this range, however, usually cover several sessions, plus provide a certificate of completion. Other classes begin around $60.

Class Preparation

Unless you attend wine tasting sessions purely for fun, it is a good idea to prepare before you begin. If you don't, it's too easy to forget everything the moment you stumble out the door.

Give this a try to make the most of your experience:

  • Buy an introductory wine book: There are several excellent introductory wine books that can help you focus before tasting a drop.

  • Sample a few bottles suggested by the book: Learn what various grape types taste like and discover the differences between cheap and moderately priced bottles. Drink what you love. Don't be ashamed if you like white more than red, or visa versa. Have fun. Enjoy. "Study" what you like most.

  • Create a tasting diary: For each new bottle you try, jot notes in a tasting diary. These notes should include: Wine name, vintage, vintner (brand), region, price, date tasted, food served with, color, aroma, taste, and comments. If possible, peel the label from the bottle and paste it next to your diary entry.

  • Reflect on what you've learned, then sign up for wine tasting courses: After you've organize your thinking, it's time to drink to your education!

Approaching Great Restaurants

Periodically, New York publications run articles on what restaurants have the most knowledgeable staff and greatest wine lists. The one originally listed in this article, however, has expired from the Internet.

Unless you really study wine, however, hundreds of bottles on a list are overwhelming. If you feel unprepared, go to a recommended restaurant, give your waitperson a price range, then let him or her select the appropriate bottles for your meal.

If you want appear knowledgeable with minimum fuss, visit the restaurant a week or so before your reservation. Ask the sommelier for advice, tipping when you get it. Go home, check wine reviews on the suggested bottles, memorize a few details and when the date arrives, confidentially tend to your dinner party.

Wine Courses Around New York

This list of wine tasting instruction providers, started in 2001, is updated periodically as new wine and beer tasting venues are discovered, or as people tell me existing ones have closed. Consult our NY City Activities and Events Calendar for tasting events that might not be covered here.

    A Casa. Do you want to confine tastings to your circle of friends or family? If so, you can rent a personal sommelier to host your event. Fees start at $75 per person for wine tastings, and $125 per person for wine and dinner. www.ACasaNYC.com. 646 851-8166

    Added August 2010
    American Sommelier Association. This organization has been offering classes since 1998 and currently offers a three-tier course consisting of Foundation, Viticulture & Vinification, and Blind Tasting. They also host events and tastings throughout the year. www.AmericanSommelier.com. 212 226-6805

    Bacchus - Wine Made Simple. Free daily wine tasting between 5PM and 8PM as well as formal, 1.5 hour classes ($40) are conducted at their 2056 Broadway shop located between 70th & 71st Streets. Lisa Grossman, owner, has written wine articles to Littleviews. www.BacchusNYC.com. 212 875-1200

    Cooper Union. The unusual Cooper Union is the only full-scholarship college in America dedicated to teaching students art, architecture and engineering. It also has a community division that features a wide-range of topics, including wine tasting. Each wine tasting session is $60, or you can sign up for the series at a discount. All events at this school are top rate! www.cooper.edu. 212 353-4195

    Crush Wine Company. Opened in 2005, this wine shop is part of restaurant powerhouse Drew Nieporent's stable of fine establishments that include Nobu and The Tribeca Grill. Given this organization's expertise, expect excellence and innovation. If you're the type that doesn't want to make a long-term commitment to a course, Crush Wine's quicky primer at $50 might be for you. Other courses paring wine with food are sure to be tasty, more expensive, and expertly taught by leading chefs and sommeliers. crushwineco.com. 212 980-9463

    De Gustibus at Macy's. Macy's holds this special cooking school event every spring with classes taught by national and internationally known experts. $90 and up. www.starschefs.com. 212-4391714

    Executive Wine Seminars. A 20-year old company that offers one to two day classes, ranging from $105 to $225. www.ewswine.com. 800-404-9463

    The French Culinary Institute. What better place to learn about wine then under the tutilage of a French sommelier? $895 buys six classes, with up to 36 students each. Learn about wine regions, their products, and how these products interact with food. www.frenchculinary.com. 212 219-8890

    Harriet Lembeck's Wine & Spirit Programs. Ten sessions for one of the city's oldest wine schools is $800, taught by Ms. Lembeck, a wine writer. 718-263-3134 or 212-252-8989

    Hudson Valley Promotions. There are several vinards along the Hudson Valley that offer personal tours. Periodically they hold festivals offering local wines, all of which are in beautiful settings. According to their last event, admission can be as low as $10. www.HudsonValley.org. 845-758-5461

    I Trulli. $65 classes focusing on Italian regional wine. Taught by Charles Scicolone at I Trulli, 11 E. 27th Street. 212-481-7372

    Instituto Cervantes. $65 sessions focusing on Spanish wines. Run by the Spanish Cultural Center at 122 E. 42nd Street. 212-661-6011

    Italian Wine Merchants. Located near Union Square, this organization offers periodic tastings featuring Italian wines. Prices range from $450 for a full-day on 50 wines to as little as $65 for a narrower selection. The average cost is around $150. They also sponsor expensive tastings in upscale restaurants as well as periodic free events. www.ItalianWineMerchant.com. 212-473-2323

    Local Wine Events Listings, edited by Eric V. Orange. Eric Orange founded, coded and now presides over several "LocalWineEvents" sites that feature calendars of wine tasting events throughout the USA and England. Of course, New York, Long Island and New Jersey are well represented. In addition to up-to-date calendars, these sites provide links and database searches that reveal a comprehensive amount of information. www.localwineevents.com.

    Manhattan Wine Seminars, LLC. Offers various courses with their signature course called "You Have the Wine List, Now What?" It also specializes in classes that teach business groups how to regard dining experiences in ways that improve communications. Very popular with Fortune 500 companies! www.ManhattanWineSeminars.com. 212-533-5981

    Added April 2011
    Nancy's Wines. Provides 90 minute classes moderated by known experts. Cost is $60 per class or $300 for a six-part series. Nancy's Wines is a member of the AOC Fine Wines family of wine boutiques. www.AOCFineWines.com. 313 Columbus Avenue. 212-877-4040

    Added November 2010
    New York Vintners. Provides a full-service wine shop, wine tasting classes, cooking instruction, food and wine pairings, and private events. Single-session classes, such as "pizza and the wines that love it," "premium sake and Asian tapis," and "the diversity of Riesling," are reasonably priced from $50 (wine basics) to $95 (master's series). Ask about private and corporate events. www.NewYorkVinters.com. 21 Warren Street, between Church and Broadway. (212) 812-3999

    NYC Wine Class. Introduction to Wine, 4-sessions ($285). Numerous single-session classes, such as Cabernet ($85), South African Values ($65) and Barolo & Barbaresco ($130). Private and corporate events also available. Andrew Harwood, founder, is also a columnist on www.LittleViews.com. www.NYCWineClass.com.

    12/2/2001 NOTE: This has now been renamed to the Institute of Cullinary Education. Same URL.
    Peter Kump's New York Cooking School. Some single evening courses for under $15. Six-week programs for $385. Taught by leading sommeliers and wine writers. General range $40 to $160, with some including food. pkcookschool.com 212-847-0770

    PJ Wine School. This is an example of a liquor dealer offering wine classes. It's address is somewhat hidden in the "contact us" section, but if you want to visit their store, it is on 4898 Broadway at 204th Street. Their classes are held in hotel and other conference rooms, although not regularly. www.pjwine.com. 212-567-5500

    Slow Food. Food and wine events. $30 for members and $40 for nonmembers. www.slowfood.com. 212-988-5146

    Taster's Guild of New York. These take place at the Gramercy Park Hotel, Lexington at 21st. www.tastersguildny.com. 212-796-6311

    The International Wine Center. The Center offers Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) classes. Classes start at $798 (for an introductory 8 week class) and go up to approximately $1,400 (for a 15 sessions class). For those looking to explore wine even further the Center offer a 2-year Diploma course which is considered a prerequisite for entrance into the Master of Wine program. Classes are held at 350 7th Avenue, between 29th and 30th Streets. Home-study courses are also available. www.internationalwinecenter.com 212-239-3055

    The Neighborhood Wine Society. Social tastings and tasting dinners. Cost around $40. Contact Jason Spingarn (212 722-1649) or Evan Spingarn (212-316-2591).

    The New School University. Near Union Square, the New School offers numerous courses for restaurant professionals and interested amateurs under the banner of "Culinary Arts and Wine Programs." Four-session classes start at $275. Single session classes run under $100. 212-229-5690

    The Wine Workshop. Courses range from $50 to $285 for wine tasting, or up to $659 for a tasting with dinner. Run by Acker Merrall. 212-875-0222

    Veritas. Provides expensive wine and food tasting dinners for $745 to $1,095. 212-353-3700

    Vino Versity. Hosts fun, educational, and social wine tasting events featuring at least 24 wines ($35 a session). All are held at the Divine Bar (wine and tapas lounge), which has two locations in Midtown. www.vino-versity.com. 212-791-9463

    11/7/2002 NOTE: This school was formerly located in the World Trade Center in the Windows on the World restaurant. I'm pleased that Kevin Zraly regrouped and continued his fabulous course!
    Windows on the World Wine School. An 8-week course for $895 taught by Kevin Zraly. www.windowsontheworldwineschool.com. 845-255-1456

    Wine Brats. National organization. Free to $50 events. www.winebrats.org. 877-545-4699

Questions? Comments?
Karen Little

Article and photo by Karen Little. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.

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