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  • Writer's pictureChristina Kach

How To Maximize Your Wine Class Experience

It has been a joy to finally get back in the classroom to teach wine classes! I'm so happy people are finding time in their social calendars and room in their budget to learn about wine! And since you are spending time and money on these experiences, why not make the most out of it? Let's see how to get the most bang for your wine class experience buck.


  • Limit Scents: A big part of wine tasting is smelling the wine. This will be harder for you and your classmates if your cologne or perfume is too liberally applied. We can become nose blind to things we smell frequently, like our personal deodorant and perfume, not realizing the strength. Please don't skip the deodorant! If you simply refuse to leave the house without a spritz - just one please! Likewise, it is nice to brush your teeth before a social outing, just do it far enough before class that the paste flavor fads from your mouth.

  • Ask Questions: You are there to learn! The teacher is probably expecting questions. There is a pretty good chance if you have a question, someone else in the room will too. If you are nervous to ask a question or simply don't have any to ask, that is ok, you don't need to. Most teachers will have a way to contact them after class, if you prefer an emailed question later.

  • Read The Room: Tying to the above, maybe you happen to have a teacher or classmates that aren't as friendly or polite (though this is a shame, it does happen). That may not be the best environment to ask your question. On the flip side, if it is a very open and chatty class, that doesn't mean you should totally take over with onslaughts of questions. Like I said before, yes you are there to learn, but there are other students who may have questions. (If you are in a formal education class, like for WSET or Wine Scholar Guild, asking many many questions would be more expected).

  • Don't Showboat: If you already are knowledgeable about wine and are choosing to attend to learn more or as a social outing, there is something very rewarding in remaining humble. Specifically, respect. To the teacher and to the students. Many wine class students are intimidated by wine or the frequent stuck-up personality that accompanies it. Remember back when that was you; don't inflict it on others. As for the teacher, no need to embarrass them or undermine their teaching. I recently went to a wine course with a very poor teacher; I didn't correct or act out, though it was frustrating. Of course, if the teacher asks a question to the class, raise your hand if you know the answer.

  • Take Notes: Even if you don't read your notes later, writing them down helps the information sink in. Taking notes can also help you stay focused if you find your mind wanders. Of course, writing them down because you want to read them later is awesome! I found taking notes in wine classes as we tasted helped me learn more than reading that exact same information alone from a book.

  • Please Try Hard to Arrive On Time: Life happens. You can't make it everywhere on time. But you can at least try. Don't just account for drinking time, but also parking and walking. Leave a buffer for public transportation. If you can safely do so, or have a passenger who can, call the school and let them know. Some classes will start with important context or information about the class you'd hate to miss.

  • It Is Ok To Spit: If you don't like an offering you can spit it out. Spit cups are usually on the table for just that use. At a more professional tasting, it may be required you spit for keeping your learning wits about you - but you'll see that more in certification courses or in the wine business world. As for fun classes, go ahead. If you are using the same glass the whole class, and don't like it, you can dump the remainder out before the next wine (or let your friend or date drink it). You won't offend the teacher (unless you are rude about it) and the best place to learn is in these classes - not a fancy dinner or after buying a whole bottle. Though I'd invite you to think about why you don't like the wine you didn't drink - it is helpful to know the things you do not like about wine.

  • Don't Distract: Wine classes make for a fun night out that doesn't involve just sitting around. Plus, I love to see people living a life outside of Netflix! If you do have a group with a lot to chat about, consider dinner before or after.

  • Speaking Of Food: Do eat before if you can! Often in a tasting, there may be cracker but it isn't enough to fill your stomach. And we know that drinking on an empty stomach isn't ideal. Water is often offered - drink it! Feel free to bring your own water too.

  • Phones & Pictures: Pictures are a good way to remember the night out and the wines you enjoyed. Just try not to stay behind your phone screen the whole time. The teacher wants to look around and see student faces not the top of your head. Plus, the class isn't happening on your phone! (Unless it is virtual class of course!). If you need to reply to something quick, of course. If you need to take a call, step out.

  • Try Different Classes & Teachers: I mentioned earlier you may have a tough class or so-so teacher. Don't let that deter you from attending more; just find other courses or teachers. Think about what you liked and didn't like about the course, kep that in mind for next time. Eventually you'll find an atmosphere and teachers you enjoy.

  • Praise Be!: And if you do find a class, school or teacher you love - leave reviews, fill out surveys and spread the love. As adults, it can suddenly become hard to find things to do for fun on nights and weekends. Wine classes, and any of the like such as cooking or crafting classes, are great and the word of mouth goes a long way.

  • Go It Alone: - No one to go with? Go alone. I've gone alone just as many times as I've gone with someone. I've seen other solo attendees. I've taught solo attendees. I promise it is normal. People will be more impressed with your confidence to go out and do something for yourself than they will be judging that you are alone. Very often other students will strike up conversations as you learn about the wines and sample.

In a way you can summarize the advice above like this: be the type of student you'd want others to act like.


Did I miss any good tips? Do you need to vent about a particular classmate who was a nightmare! Let me know.


~Cheers,

Christina

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