Learning more about wine.

Learning more about wine.

Learning more about wine.

Wine courses the Sommelier Chef

When someone finds out that I am a Sommelier I am inundated with questions about wine. I love to talk about wine so this is the best thing for me.

It’s great and most cases it's clear that the person asking the questions is interested in Learning more about wine. Wine is, after all, an incredible subject so after answering as many questions as I reasonably can I often ask:

"What do you want to know?” and “Why don't you take a class?"

Most people are interested in learning a little more about wine so that they can try different types when they see them.
Some want to know what all those fancy words mean and others are just keen to know how to taste wine or better understand it in order to appreciate the flavors rather than just drinking it. Almost all are scared of the unknown and put off because they think that they will be met with turned up, snooty noses, openly down casting them as if a lesser class.
I should know I was one of them when I started to appreciate wine. I was the scholar, not the snooter.

Di Warren Sommelier

If you are interested in learning more about wine the options are endless so here's a bit of friendly advice to help you on your way.

Don't be scared. We all drink wine because we like it. Sure some people get paid to do it but we all started out by just drinking a glass or two (or more) of wine.

Start small. If you go in thinking that you want to be a sommelier then the subject can quickly become overwhelming.

Enjoy it. This is the most important part. If you don't enjoy it then it's not fun and if you're paying, it should be fulfilling.

The Snooters, well their bark is worse than their bite so don't be put off by them. Remember, at the end of the day we all just want a glass of wine and enjoy it.

Wine tasting The Sommelier Chef

Start small, don’t be scared and have fun with it:

Start with your local wine shop or wine supplier, they will have insight on what's on, where and when.
They will also be able to point you in the right direction given what you are interested in learning.

Most reputable wine shops will have wine tasting evenings that you can go to where they show different or new wines. Most of the time you are not obliged to purchase the wines but you will have to pay to attend the tasting. These evenings are sociable, informative and most of all fun and a great way to try new wines without buying the whole bottle.

Try a winery tour (or two). Wineries often have informational tasting classes that can give you some knowledge along with, a fantastic location and beautiful vineyard views. There's normally a fee to attend these and you should be aware that it's in the wineries' interest to promote and sell their product. Education may be limited but interesting (especially if a cellar tour is included) and you will get to try their range of wines in a fabulous environment.

Wine tasting at home with a group of friends could be a good place to start. Many wine companies and free lance sommeliers (myself included) offer in-home wine tasting evenings whereby they come to your home with wines, glasses, notes and whatever else they need to make it interesting. You are then treated to a private, fun and informative wine tasting in the comfort of your own home. There are many subjects available so take your time, shop around and find what's best for you. It's a great way to start if you ask me.

In addition to wine tasting evenings, larger wine stores will hold classes on different wine subjects that you can pay to attend if it's something you're interested about. A bonus again is that you get to try samples of the subject as you learn all about it. In fact all wine classes involve wine tasting, that's what we want isn't it?

A wine club is a way of socializing with other like-minded people. Wine clubs are often free to join and meet about once a month. There's normally a subject per meeting or sometimes a wine-maker or supplier will attend to talk about their wines. Either way wine clubs open up doors to more information. An added plus is that many clubs have access to cases of wines at discounted prices for their members to buy.

There are online wine classes and information sessions if that's your thing. You Tube has a bunch of "how to taste wine" videos along with videos on most wine related subjects. They do offer a great deal of information but just be careful, as some of it may be incorrect. Online is great for knowledge however if you are looking to taste it's often better if you are tasting with other people where you can share your thoughts and ask questions informally.

If one off classes and wine clubs are not your thing and you would prefer to take a series of classes it's best to use one of the more reputable bodies like WSET or ISG.

While, in my opinion, any education about the subject of wine is better than none, it's important that the information you receive is correct. The wine industry is changing rapidly and the people who deliver these courses will have current, correct and up to date knowledge of it.


WSET - Wine and Spirit Education Trust is based in the UK but offers classes in cities all over the world. WSET offers a wide range of classes from beginner to Sommelier and beyond. 

ISG - International Sommelier Guild is based in the US and offers classes in the USA, Canada and Asia. They too offer a wide range of classes from beginner to Sommelier and beyond

The professional world of wine is divided when it comes to which (WSET or ISG) is the better body to use. Divided by their own professional opinions maybe but it doesn't change the fact that both offer an incredible amount of good wine education.

Both bodies offer beginner classes where you are taught how to taste, how wine is made and where it comes from along with the varying nuances of different grape varieties. There is a lot of information to take in but after the course your wine world will never be the same again.

I would suggest both bodies to anyone looking to learn just that little bit more than what the wine store can offer.

I started my foray into wine when, as a hotel manager I fired the then chef and wine purchaser.
While I was able to replace the chef it fell to me to take on the wine side of things so I took myself off to one of the classes above to learn a little bit more about the subject.
I was fascinated from day one but had no plans to take another course. As time went on I became increasingly interested to know more.
It wasn't just about drinking wine; it was about the people who made it, the passion, the history, everything, there was so much.
3 years later I qualified as a Sommelier. It was the hardest thing I had ever done but my world has never been the same since.

Wine education is infectious and can take you to many different places. Literally, through travel to different countries or regions or through a deep mental appreciation of just what it takes to get wine into the bottle. The wine world is endless.

So, if you want to take a wine course DO IT, you'll love it.

Wine Tags: 


Such a good post. Doing my first wine course completely changed my career and my path in life. I hope to teach one day and help bring more confidence about wine to more people. Thank you for linking up with Winenot :)

di's picture

Thanks Nicole, good luck finishing the course. The first wine course changed my path aswell and I get huge satisfaction out of teaching wine, it's very rewarding.

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