Looking to impress your friends or a date with a little knowledge about fine wine and food pairings? Or perhaps you’re seriously considering a career in the wine industry? Whatever your level of interest may be, knowing your wines and what to serve them with will certainly serve you well. Here are our favorite places and classes, at all levels, to get you on the road to becoming an educated Oenophile:
Image of Wine & Wall by John A. Benson
The word Oenophile is Greek for the love (philia) of wine (oinos). If you rolled your eyes, then it's best you start with fun and experiential classes offered at wine shops and wineries like these:
Wine & Wall in San Francisco offers classes and educational mixers featuring subjects like Chardonnay 101, Old World vs. New World, and Essentials of Wine & Food Pairing at Home. You can also design your own class. $55 per person.
B Cellar’s Wine Blending Boot Camp, like Wine & Wall, has experienced and knowledgeable teachers who keep it light. This experience is fantastic for a group or a birthday party, as you’ll be able make your own blend, compete, and take your wine home if you win.
There are other wineries that offer a range of blending experiences. We also suggest educational events by The Right Blend or winemaker events at local boutiques like biondivino.
Photo of Raymond Vineyards Rutherford Classrom by Scott Chebegia
If you have a solid grasp of the basics (like knowing the difference between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, but unsure what to serve them with), you’re ready for some intermediate classes.
The San Francisco Wine Center offers classes ranging from Extreme Sonoma Coast, where you’ll learn all about the wines of the Sonoma Coast and the associated terrior, to In Pursuit of Balance, which promotes understanding of balance in wines. Classes range from $60 - $90.
The Cheese School of San Francisco has a variety of wine and cheese classes for about $75 that are designed to be easy and accessible for every level of “casiophile” (cheese lover) or Oenophile. Classes range from Winter Cheeses & Wines to British Cheese and the Wines that Love Them.
Advanced doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an expert, but it does mean you should be ready to commit to a series of classes or thoughtful study.
If that sounds appealing, the best place to start is the CIA. They have everything from Wine Lovers Boot Camps (which I recommend) to professional studies for those looking to start a career, and everything in-between.
If you’re really serious, check out certification classes at the Grape Experience, the education program by the Court of Master Sommeliers, and the schools recommended in the 3rd installment of 7x7’s How to get a Job in the Wine Industry.