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Wine Course


LaNiña
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I've been thinking about doing a serious wine course for a while, and started doing some research a couple of months ago. All roads have led to the same program. Jaybee's nephew did this program and loved it. Darrin Siegfried, whom I know, who was the Education Director of the Sommelier Society for 5 years, has recommended it also (and NOT the Sommelier Society program, mind you). Someone else I know, who works for one of the major importers/distributors in NYC also recommended it.

Cabrales and Blondie have expressed interest in doing it too. Check out the link below for details:

International Wine Center

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The best wine course is going down to the local wine merchant - buy and taste. It's a wonderful education experience!!

Nina - remember, under no circumstances allow them to talk you into smelling a cork - it always smells just like cork!

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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I did a course with the Wine Education Society in London about 7 or 8 years ago. It covered the first part of the master of wine qualification and I can't recommend it enough. It really transformed the way I think about and taste wine. For a while I struggled to keep my wine bill reasonable - at one stage I was spending more on wine a month that I was on my mortgage! My partner's quite justified tantrums have curbed excessive spending. In fact, I have kind of gone off wine recently and only rarely splash out on something expensive-ish. I really don't want to get a taste for it again.

But if you do go ahead with the course the homework is hell :biggrin:

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Nina - remember, under no circumstances allow them to talk you into smelling a cork - it always smells just like cork!

Put the cork into an empty glass first then smell it (to capture the aromatics). If it doesn't smell of cork with a wee bit wine on the end - worry.

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It's the "wee" bit I would worry about.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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"In 1994, the International Wine Center was the first organization in the U.S. to become affiliated with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) in London, and offer its courses. The WSET is an educational organization for members of the wine trade in the UK; its highest accreditation, Diploma, is the traditional qualification necessary for those who wish to become Master of Wine candidates."

Anyway, I'm going to the IWC program starting in the Fall. Anyone who'd like to do it with me, great. I'm not looking for additional recommendations at the moment, but perhaps other folks are.

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I learned a few weeks ago (from ad in NYTimes) that Andrea Immer is offering a wine course (I think there are 8 sessions over dinners) at:

The French Culinary Institute

462 Broadway

New York, NY 10013-2618

(888) FCI-CHEF

(212) 219-8890

It starts in the fall, on Monday nights. I didn't enquire about the price as I can't make that night.

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That FCI course has been advised against by several people I know (and it's more expensive, by the way)...

Details on the IWC class can be found on their website (link above). It's on Tuesday nights I believe.

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Just out of interest--leaving aside the price-- what are the criticisms of the FCI course? I've only dipped into Immer's books, but having seen her on the box she seems like a decent teacher. The other attraction of this particular course, if I understand it correctly, is that it includes meals during which the wines under study will be paired with food. This seems like a good idea. I was in Nappa Valley a few weeks ago, and tasting even a reserve Mondavi without food didn't realy seem to do it justice.

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I've heard from a couple of people that the FCI courses are highly politicized, that certain importers are emphasized, that it's more concerned with "status" than really hard core wine knowledge. Just what I was told.

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i'm not sure to what extent, but i think andrea immer's perspective is not dissimilar to that of kevin zraly's. (i think they've worked together on a few things.) i know kevin's classes have not been helpful to more than a couple of people seriously interested in wine. he's very much the entertainer.

i don't expect anyone here is considering his windows class, but if you are, it's not a well-spent $900 (!).

i, too, have been looking into the IWC class for some time. money always gets in the way, though......

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May I suggest a different approach that isn't necessarily instead of but maybe in addition to. And this depends on what you intend to do with your knowledge. The best way to learn about wine is to go to organized tastings that revolve around a theme. For example in NYC, Executive Wine Seminars runs tastings throughout the year that feature certain grapes, or vintages or regions. The wine shop Acker Merrall Condit has a similar series.

If you go to something like the International Wine Center, or Andrea Immer, I am certain that when you are finished with the course that you will probably have the skill to decipher a chenin blanc from a sauvignon blanc. And if you wanted to work in restaurant wine service, that would be a good starting point. But what you won't have learned is what makes a wine great, or what a great wine is.

A wine shop is like a bookstore, and the grapes are like different types of books. Drama, biography, sports, fiction, etc. And what you will do at IWC or Immer is that they will go over every type of book and allow you to sample them so you have a reference point. There's a difference between knowing the difference between wines, and knowing wine. It's like our beloved Jinmyo says, there is pie and there is PIE!

Just like literature, wine has its own Catcher in the Rye, it's own Catch 22, it's own Grapes of Wrath. Special bottles that are seminal efforts of their regions, or of their varietal. In my humblest opinion, you can learn more about wine by going to a tasting and drinking 10 vintages of Chave or 12 1998 Chateuneuf-du-Papes then you could learn by slowly and methodically going through each varietal and every important wine region in the world. Not to put you off taking a course where you will learn the basics but, if you want to learn wine, you need to find a way to drink those great bottles and it isn't really that difficult to do.

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I agree with you Steve, but the two are not mutually exclusive. I think, at least for me, that both things are valuable. I do a lot of tasting whenever I can - but this kind of program would be helpful and useful too.

The president of International Wine Center is Mary Ewing-Mulligan, and she's very well regarded. I have heard her palette is legendary, and that her classes are indeed about what makes wine good, and not only about differences between varietals and technical details, etc.

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My nephew works at a top wine store and took this course. He had learned a great deal from tasting over the last year. That said, he felt the course added greatly to his knowledge and understanding of a broad range of wines from different countries, wines that he might not ordinarily had the oportunity to taste or sought out. Granted, he wants to make a career in the wine business, but his basic understanding of differences among wines, grape types and character and the factors that influence quality were enhanced by the course.

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Nina - congratulations on your decision, that sounds like a rewarding step.

I've heard good comments about harriet lembeck's wine courses over the years, generally four to six weekly classes on a specific topic. This summer, she's running one on introduction to wine, and another on champagnes. Fee is $190 plus $97 for materials. I haven't attended the class.

Lembeck at NSU

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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The classroom environment portrayed by the course descriptions (including tests) was a turnoff to me.

Tastings organized by stores are often good choices. Sometimes they come with lectures, sometimes just tasting.

beachfan

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May I suggest a different approach that isn't necessarily instead of but maybe in addition to. And this depends on what you intend to do with your knowledge. The best way to learn about wine is to go to organized tastings that revolve around a theme. For example in NYC, Executive Wine Seminars runs tastings throughout the year that feature certain grapes, or vintages or regions. The wine shop Acker Merrall Condit has a similar series.

i've met and have had tastings with one of the guys from acker. one of the sons, if i recall. nice kid. but, at the end of the day, he came off sales-y. that's not to take anything away from acker, as they are solid people, and know their shit.

willie gluckstern, however, doesn't give a shit about sales. which is part of the reason why he's my hero. :smile:

please to click for willie

if willie was already mentioned on this thread, or if i've already mentioned him, then i'm sorry. :blink:

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