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Unlock the secrets of wine when you join an exciting online class

Are you a wine lover eager to deepen your knowledge and appreciation of the world of wine? Maybe you want to look like a pro next time you order a glass in a restaurant. Or perhaps you’d like to have a basic understanding of food and wine pairings. With an online wine class, you can learn all this and more from the comfort of your own home.

Whether you’re a complete novice, a seasoned enthusiast, or somewhere in between like me, an online wine course offers a comprehensive and convenient way to explore the fascinating world of wine.

You’ll have the opportunity to learn from industry experts, sommeliers, and winemakers who will guide you through the art of developing a discerning palate.

I recently participated in an online food and wine pairing class with the San Francisco Wine School. I’ll share my experience in a minute. First, let’s discuss some of the benefits and why you might want to take an online wine course.

Just interested in my review? No problem! Click here to skip down to my review.

Taking an online wine class

The growing popularity of online wine classes

In recent years, online wine courses have seen a surge in popularity. No thanks to a certain pandemic I’d rather not discuss. Although, the growing popularity of online courses was one positive. Online wine courses offer a convenient and flexible way to learn about wine, no matter where you live.

The appeal of online wine courses lies in their ability to bring the expertise of industry professionals directly to your fingertips. Through live Zoom meetings, video lectures and virtual tastings, you can gain valuable insights into the wonderful world of wine.

Online wine courses can offer a sense of community and connection among wine lovers. Many courses provide platforms for students to interact with one another, share their experiences, and ask questions, as mine did. And I got to learn from a Master Sommelier!

The convenience and flexibility of online wine courses have made them attractive for those with busy schedules or limited access to in-person wine education.

Whether you’re a working professional, a stay-at-home parent, or simply someone who prefers the comfort of learning from home, an online wine course allows you to pursue your passion for wine on your own schedule.

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Benefits of taking an online wine course

Enhance your wine knowledge

Enrolling in an online wine course offers numerous benefits that can enhance your wine knowledge and appreciation. Firstly, it provides a structured learning experience that covers a wide range of topics and ensures you acquire a comprehensive understanding of the world of wine.

From the basics of wine production to the nuances of different grape varieties and regions, an online wine course guides you through the essential elements that contribute to the complexity and diversity of wines.

Learn at your own pace

Secondly, an online wine class allows you to learn at your own pace and on your own schedule. Unlike traditional classroom-based courses, online wine education offers the flexibility to study whenever and wherever it suits you.

This means you can fit your wine education around your other commitments and responsibilities. This ensures that learning about wine doesn’t feel like an added pressure but instead a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

I did my online wine course on a Sunday afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious experience while overlooking the ocean from my home office.

Learn from industry experts

Another advantage of online wine courses is the access they provide to industry experts and professionals. This was one of the main advantages for me as my instructor was one of the very few Master Sommeliers in the world. He brought his expertise and real-world experience to the virtual classroom.

Online wine courses often include practical components such as wine tastings and food pairing exercises. This is exactly what my course was all about. Courses like the one I took provide hands-on experience that enhances your learning and allows you to apply the knowledge you’ve gained.

By tasting different wines and experimenting with various food pairings, you’ll develop a more refined palate and a deeper appreciation for the intricate relationships between wine and food. I guarantee that some pairings will shock and surprise you.

Choosing the right online wine class for you

With the number of online wine courses available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your needs. To help you decide, here are some tips and factors to consider when selecting an online wine course.

By considering these factors, you can narrow down your options and find the online wine course that best suits your preferences and goals. Remember, the right course for you is the one that aligns with your interests, provides a comprehensive education, and offers a supportive learning environment.

Tips for selecting an online wine class

  1. Level of expertise: Determine your current level of knowledge and experience with wine. Are you a complete beginner looking for an introductory course, or do you already have a solid foundation and want to deepen your understanding? Many online wine courses offer varying levels of expertise, so it’s important to choose one that aligns with your goals and aspirations.
  2. Course content: Review the course syllabus and curriculum to ensure it covers the topics you’re interested in. Some courses may focus more on wine production and viticulture, while others may emphasize wine-tasting techniques, food pairing, or specific wine regions. Consider your areas of interest and select a course that aligns with your preferences.
  3. Instructor credentials: Look into the background and qualifications of the instructors teaching the course. Are they experienced sommeliers, winemakers, or industry experts? Do they have a proven track record in wine education? A reputable online wine course should have instructors with credible credentials and a wealth of knowledge to share.
  4. Course format: Consider the format of the course and how it fits with your learning style. Some courses may be entirely self-paced, allowing you to progress through the material at your own speed. Others may have set start and end dates, with weekly or monthly modules. Think about your preferred learning approach and choose a course that accommodates your needs.
  5. Additional resources and support: Evaluate the supplementary resources and support provided by the course. Does it offer access to an online library of resources, such as e-books, articles, and tasting notes? Are there opportunities for interaction with instructors and fellow students through forums or live Q&A sessions? These additional resources and support can greatly enhance your learning experience.
Ready to start my online food and wine pairing class with San Francisco Wine School

The San Francisco Wine School Online Food and Wine Pairing Class – My Review

I have a basic understanding of wine that grows every year. For my online wine course, I chose to do one called Food and Wine Pairing Lab because I love experimenting with different foods and wines, making this class the perfect fit for me.

The online wine class that I participated in was through the San Francisco Wine School. They offer a wide variety of classes, both single-day and longer format certification courses. Simply looking to expand my knowledge of food and wine pairings, I selected a three-hour food and wine pairing class.

I attended the class online, but it was an in-person class for anyone living in the San Francisco area. Thankfully, they have a fantastic setup in their classroom and are able to invite people to join these classes via Zoom.

Preparing for my online wine class

Taking an online wine class may require some preparation. Because I live in Canada and the wines couldn’t be shipped to me before my class, I had to purchase both the foods and the wines I would be tasting and pairing during the session. Depending on the course you take, and where you live, you may have to do the same.

A few days prior to the class, I was sent a list full of examples of the required types of foods to purchase, the preferred wines I should get, the Zoom link, and a Food Lab Grid for taking notes during the class.

I live in Canada, which means that the wines could not be shipped to me from the United States so I had to purchase those myself. I would like to give a BIG shout-out to my instructor David Glancy for going above and beyond! Since I couldn’t find the same wines in Canada, he searched the website of my local liquor store and sent me the exact wines he suggested that I purchase.

Wines ready to be opened and tasted

These wines were the closest to the ones they would be using in the class. Not only did he find appropriate wines, but he found several of them in the smaller half-bottle format. Since I’m the only person in my household who drinks wine, I really appreciated this gesture.

I will clarify that with the San Francisco Wine School, the wine-tasting kits and standard shipping is included in the price of all their hybrid courses. They can ship wine to 43 states throughout the US. If you don’t live in the US and need to source the wines yourself like I did, there is a special promo code: SKIPTHEWINE that you can use to take 40% off of the published price.

During the online food and wine pairing class

Pictured below, you can see that I split the screen of my laptop so I could watch the Zoom while also taking notes in the sheet I was provided. I could have printed out the sheet to take notes manually, but I prefer to type.

In case you’re wondering, yes I was hesitant to have three wine glasses next to my MacBook but I was very careful not to bump or spill them! As you can see, I already have a watermark on the bottom of my screen from an airport lounge cappuccino 😢

Taking notes during an online wine class

Pro tip: If you can be clumsy like me, try wrapping your keyboard in saran wrap before your class. This will protect your keyboard in the event that you spill any wine during your online class.

During the class, our instructor would ask questions from the participants, including those of us who participated online. I had to ensure that I was muted when the instructor was talking, but I could unmute myself to ask a question or participate in the conversation. I loved how interactive this course was!

The way our food and wine pairing class worked was that we would sip the wine first, then we would take a bite of each of the foods we had on our plate. Between each bite of food, we took a sip of wine to see how that affected its flavour.

Pictured below are the foods we sampled with each wine. Some were bitter, others were salty, smoky, sweet, or spicy. As we made our way through each wine with all of the different foods, it was interesting to see just how much a bite of food can change the way a wine tastes.

Foods for an online food and wine pairing class

My San Francisco Wine School online wine class was 3 hours and I enjoyed every minute. A lot of online classes are more webinar-style and one-sided but this one was extremely interactive. After every tasting, we would all discuss which wine we preferred with the food we were tasting. It is amazing how subjective it is. There wasn’t one instance where everyone agreed on the pairing.

My biggest takeaway from this online wine course is that there are no rules for food and wine pairing. There are suggestions for what might work best, but we all have different likes and dislikes. Here is the link to the class I took, in case you are interested in taking it as well.

Wine tasting techniques and vocabulary

One of the most enjoyable aspects of learning about wine is developing the ability to taste and evaluate different wines. You might have assumed that with an online wine class, you wouldn’t be able to do this, but you absolutely can.

Wine tasting is a multi-sensory experience that involves observing the wine’s appearance, assessing its aromas, savouring its flavours, and evaluating its overall balance and finish. We are going to swirl, smell, sip and savour each wine.

Swirl the wine in your glass

When tasting wine, it’s important to pay attention to its appearance, as it can provide clues about the wine’s age, grape variety, and winemaking techniques. Observe the colour of the wine, noting its intensity, hue, and clarity.

Red wines range from pale ruby to deep purple, while white wines vary from pale straw to golden yellow. Swirling the wine gently in the glass can release its aromas, allowing you to assess its bouquet.

Swirling a glass of wine
Tasting my wine during an online wine class

Smell the wine’s aromas

Next, bring your nose to the glass and take a moment to inhale the wine’s aromas. Start by identifying the primary aromas, which are derived from the grape variety itself. Do this both with your mouth closed and then open. See if that makes a difference.

For example, red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes often exhibit aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry, and cedar. White wines made from Chardonnay grapes may have aromas of green apple, citrus, and vanilla.

In addition to primary aromas, wines can also display secondary and tertiary aromas that develop during the winemaking process and with aging. Secondary aromas are derived from fermentation, such as the bread-like aromas found in sparkling wines. Tertiary aromas, on the other hand, are a result of aging, often characterized by notes of tobacco, leather, or earthiness.

Sip and savour

Once you’ve assessed the wine’s aromas, it’s time to take a sip and evaluate its flavours and structure. Pay attention to the wine’s sweetness, acidity, tannins (in red wines), and alcohol level. Is the wine dry or sweet? Does it have a crisp or soft acidity? Are the tannins smooth or grippy? These elements contribute to the wine’s overall balance and can greatly influence your enjoyment of it.

Finally, evaluate the wine’s finish, which refers to the aftertaste that lingers in your mouth after swallowing. A long and complex finish is often indicative of a high-quality wine, while a short and simple finish may suggest a less complex or less age-worthy wine.

Developing a wine vocabulary is essential for effectively communicating your tasting experiences and preferences. In your online wine class, you will learn descriptive terms such as fruity, floral, oaky, or spicy that can help you articulate the characteristics of a wine.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s palate is different, and there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to personal taste. The more you practice and explore different wines, the more confident you’ll become in your ability to taste and evaluate them.

Food, wine and cheese outside on a terrace

Exploring different wine regions and grape varieties

One of the most fascinating aspects of wine is its diversity, which is shaped by the combination of grape varieties and the unique characteristics of different wine regions. Exploring various wine regions allows you to discover the distinct terroir, winemaking traditions, and grape varieties that contribute to the world of wine.

French wines

France is often considered the benchmark for wine, with regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne producing some of the world’s most renowned wines. Bordeaux is known for its elegant red blends, while Burgundy is celebrated for its exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Champagne, on the other hand, is synonymous with sparkling wine and is renowned for its quality and craftsmanship.

Italian wines

Italy is another country with a rich wine heritage, offering a diverse range of grape varieties and styles. From the iconic red wines of Tuscany, such as Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino, to the crisp white wines of Veneto, including Prosecco and Soave, Italy has something to offer every wine enthusiast. Additionally, regions like Piedmont and Sicily showcase unique grape varieties such as Nebbiolo and Nero d’Avola.

New World wines

The New World wine regions, including the United States, Australia, and South America, have also made significant contributions to the world of wine. California’s Napa Valley is renowned for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, while Australia’s Barossa Valley is famous for its bold and fruit-forward Shiraz. South American countries like Argentina and Chile have gained international recognition for their Malbec and Carmenere.

The lineup of bottles for our wine tasting at the winery Kalala

Canadian wines

And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Canada’s exceptional wines. We have many award-winning wines in Canada. The Okanagan Valley has even been referred to as the Napa of the North. Quite the compliment I’d say!

As you explore different wine regions, you’ll encounter a myriad of grape varieties, each with its own distinct characteristics and flavour profiles. From the aromatic whites of Riesling and Gewürztraminer to the bold reds of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, the world of grape varieties offers endless opportunities for discovery and enjoyment.

And remember that just because someone else loves a wine, doesn’t mean you will. We all have different palates. I used to solely drink red wine, but I’ve recently begun experimenting with whites and have a few I quite enjoy.

By tasting wines made from different grape varieties and in different regions, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of how these factors influence the final product. And you’ll discover a few new faves along the way.

Food and wine pairing

Pairing wine with food is an art that can elevate both the dining experience and the enjoyment of wine. When done correctly, the right combination of food and wine can enhance the flavours of both, creating a harmonious and memorable tasting experience.

However, if you mix the wrong combination of food and wine, you’re in for a less than enjoyable experience. I have loved a wine until I tried it with a certain food that completely changed its flavour.

I’ve learned that if you don’t like a wine at first sip, have a bite of some food, and try it again. You may be surprised at just how much its flavour profile changes.

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Conclusion – Taking an online wine class

I thoroughly enjoyed my online wine class with the San Francisco Wine School. It was a fun and enjoyable experience that further broadened my wine knowledge. If you are someone who is interested in learning more about the science behind wine, or simply how to pair it with food, I highly recommend taking a wine class.

Whether you choose to do yours in person or online, it’s always fun learning about the wonderful world of wine. Cheers!

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Learn all about wine in an online wine class
My review of an online food and wine pairing class

Disclosure: The online Food and Wine Pairing Lab class was gifted to me, courtesy of the San Francisco Wine School. I purchased all of my own wine and food. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not monetarily compensated in any way for this post.

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