I did fine in my first wine class. After all the exam stress,
it turns out that some of what I thought I didn’t know, I did, and I came out
with a good mark and a renewed excitement about starting my next course. Not
that I still don’t feel overwhelmed – I think the whole exam experience gave me
a lot to think about in terms of keeping my expectations in perspective. Wine
is definitely interesting, but it’s not easy to learn about. I just have to
remember that I can’t do it all in a year (or ten) and that sometimes things
aren’t going to come as easily as others.
A huge thank-you to all those who left me comments on the
blog, Facebook and Twitter – I needed that boost and the reminder that I’m not
alone. The wine community is an amazing, supportive one and I feel so lucky to
be a part of it.
So, with wine education on the brain I thought I’d look at
some of the options available for those who aren’t able to take a college
course or who’d just like to learn for the love or fun of it. I’ve recently
encountered a few great books and new ideas that I thought it might be
worthwhile to share.
I had the opportunity to meet the president of Wine Awakenings, Amato De Civita, at the recent Good Food and Drink Festival and I
really enjoyed learning about their line of products. Their Wine-Expert-in-a-Box
course was designed by wine expert Gary Pickering (a professor of Wine Science
at Brock University) and includes an aroma kit to help learn the various scents
associated with wine (these are available to purchase separately too and seem
like a cool idea to this newbie who still struggles with identifying wine
aromas). It also comes with Jancis Robinson’s How to Taste
book and learning tools like aroma wheels, a texture card and taste discs.
There is also a study guide and an online course that can be taken at your own
pace. Is it going to be the same as taking a WSET or college course? No, but it seems like a really great option for those who are looking for a
more affordable or less intense way to learn about wine or who don’t have access to a wine
school in their area. You can tell that they put a lot of time, thought and
energy into creating a very interactive learning experience that you can take
advantage of without ever leaving your home.
Looking for some even more affordable resources? The books below are ones that I think will give any true wine newbie a good place to start - and they won't break the bank.
I came across this book at Costco and tossed it
into the cart because it looked interesting. It ended up being a great
study aide during my class. The book is set up like a wine course – each chapter
covers one class and then has a quiz and ideas for tastings at the end. It
also includes short videos that you can access via links or QR codes. I didn’t
watch many of the videos, but I wasn’t super impressed by the ones I did – they’re
really short and more like intros to the topics. The book, however, is very good. It’s a great, easy-to-understand resource for anyone with an
interest in learning about the basics of wine regions and wine in general. I’m
sure I’ll be picking this one up frequently.
This was a book I never would have picked up, but I read agreat review on the Food Gypsy blog and sent in a comment, not even realizing that it
entered me in a draw to win the book. And I won! Despite the name, this is a
pretty fabulous resource for the wine novice. It was the first book about wine
I picked up and I found it easy-to-read and informative. While it’s certainly
not an exhaustive study of any one wine region, it’s a good start and it does
offer great suggestions of books to read if you’re interested in learning more.
A great newbie resource, if you can get past the bright yellow cover and the
whole ‘for Dummies’ thing.
What’s your favourite wine education resource? I’d love to add it to my list!