Enjoying a glass of wine with dinner is a great way to unwind. But it can be really disappointing to bring home a bottle of wine with a taste that doesn’t match the cost. Sometimes it’s due to the brand, but other times it’s simply served wrong or paired incorrectly with a meal. Luckily, it is really easy to become a wine connoisseur with the help of some online resources. These can be in the form of formal classes or more exciting virtual wine tastings.
A great way to learn anything new is to take a class, but wine courses can be pricey. Luckily, there are many online options that make it free. The only downside is you have to buy your own wine to sip while you study. Some of these wine classes are simple videos while others include tests and certification. There are so many options to pick from.
Coursera is a great platform where you learn important skills and fascinating information. Some of the information comes directly from some of the world’s top experts and universities. Wine Tasting: Sensory Techniques for Wine Analysis is a course that takes several weeks and approximately 14 total hours to complete. It teaches you how to analyze wine as well as how to pair the drink with food and wine’s ‘seven deadly sins.’ The course is free unless you want a certificate, in which case you can pay $79 to pass an exam.
Weekly Tasting on YouTube
Learning about wine doesn’t have to happen in a formal online classroom setting. Weekly Tasting is a YouTube channel that does exactly as the title suggests. Sommelier Elizabeth Schneider and Master Sommelier Laura Maniec share their experiences tasting and comparing different types of wines. A great video to start with is their intro to wine tasting.
Napa Valley Wine Academy
The Napa Valley Wine Academy has been educating people about wine since 2011. The Academy even won a WSET Global Wine Education of the Year award in 2019. They offer more than 19 courses on their website, many of which are currently discounted. They also offer free webinars regularly on their Facebook page.
University of Washington
This university was founded in 1861 and is a public research university in Seattle, Washington. They are a great university, and they love to share a lecture here and there with the public via their YouTube channel. One of these happens to be a one-hour lecture with UW Professor Michael Wagner called Wine 101.
Similar to Coursera, Class Central offers classes on a plethora of topics including wine! World of Wine: from Grape to Glass is a self-paced six week class. Auditing the class is free while a certificate is an extra $199. This course aims to give a broad understanding of the principles and practices used to grow grapes and make wine, and their impact on wine’s appearance, aroma, flavour, and taste. The course also includes creating your own wine virtually. How? You’ll have to enroll to find out.
This website is all about wine, and it includes paid courses as well as free videos and information. You can enjoy their free sample class to see if a paid course would be worth your money. However, the site itself is a great resource full of educational videos and articles that can teach you more about this delicious beverage.
MyWineSmarts on YouTube
Another great YouTube channel with bite-sized videos about wine is MyWineSmarts. With over 10,000 subscribers and videos that have hundreds of thousands of views, this channel is a great resource for beginners. A great way to start is to watch the Wine Basics video, then go from there. Judging by the rave comments, these videos are greatly appreciated by the public.
The Great Coursera Plus
If you would like to dip your toes into wine classes without committing financially, the Great Coursera Plus has a free 14 day trial. To be able to access the free courses, they do require you to sign up for a paid plan and give your payment information. However, if you cancel it within the two weeks, you will not be charged. You don’t have to sign up to see the trailers for their available classes. The Everyday Guide to Wine class has twenty-four 30-minute lectures. You can easily watch them all before your free trial expires!
Virtual Wine Tastings sound strange, but they are the perfect way to try new wines from the comfort of your home. There are paid events as well as free ones. Obviously, if you want to sip along you will have to order the wine. Some fancier courses include shipping these wines to your home while others will guide you to buy them yourself before the course.
This winery offers weekly virtual tastings every Saturday at 16:00 PT. You can follow their events on Facebook and Instagram. The courses will explore popular varieties like Pinot Noir, Rosé and Chardonnay. You can find each week’s tasting lists in advance and pre-order the wine to sip along. They offer a 20% off coupon to encourage viewers to buy wine directly from the winery. However, you can buy similar wines from a local store if you prefer, or if the winery doesn’t ship to your location.
Acker Wines Live Tastings
Acker Wines is one of America’s oldest wineries. Throughout April, they plan on hosting digital “BYOB” happy hours two to three times a week. While they offer free domestic shipping to anyone in the USA, these happy hours are meant for anyone in the world. They will post the types of wines that will be discussed ahead of time on their Facebook page. These live tastings are meant to be fun and not just educational, so they are perfectly fine with your participating with any drink of your choice during the event.
Some other virtual wine tastings to follow are those hosted by Big Cork Vineyards, Chateau Montelena and Frog’s Leap. All three offer free events where you are encouraged to buy your own wine to drink while you participate. It’s a great way to learn something new about it even if you’re not drinking the featured one. Some, including Frog’s Leap, offer an interactive experience to make things even more exciting!
Bonus: Virtual Sip and Paint Classes
You don’t have to know anything or be in the process of learning about wine to enjoy drinking it. A new popular trend is to spend an evening or a night out with friends combining art and wine. These sip and paint classes are usually enjoyed at fancy venues for a not so little fee. But as long as you have painting supplies and a bottle of wine, you can enjoy painting and drinking virtually with friends or strangers around the world!
Paint Sip Fun is a great Facebook group that organizes events. On May 27th they will have a special online event between 19:00 and 20:30 EST. Keep an eye out on local studios that may be offering similar free events that will get your creative juices flowing!
Photos: Shutterstock / Collage: Martina Advaney
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