The Zen of Wine and Sharing

I'm pleased to announce the autumn dates for the next round of Fine Vintage, Ltd's WSET Courses in South Florida, and with these classes I have an opportunity to once again examine the gift of teaching as a way of learning.

 Exploring sherry in a wset level 2 course

Exploring sherry in a wset level 2 course

It isn't lost on me that I simultaneously (though unintentionally) discovered wine and music, two of the greatest passions of my life. When I was a student at the University of Minnesota, one of my music professors was Dominick Argento, an internationally famous composer of widely performed operas. A few weeks into our first class together, I asked him why an accomplished composer was teaching an introductory music class when he could have been focusing on graduate-level courses. I have never forgotten his surprised look and kind response: "I do teach graduate courses, but I insist on teaching an introduction to music as well because it forces me to regularly examine the entire history of music and everything I think I know about it. I get to put aside my preconceptions and start fresh, and that gives new life to everything I already understand."

 What can we learn from tasting these two wines side by side? First, they taste great and second, each speaks of its origin

What can we learn from tasting these two wines side by side? First, they taste great and second, each speaks of its origin

I've often thought of Professor Argento's words over the years since I was a 20 year old in his classroom, learning about music at the same time I was, on a very different track, teaching myself to cook and and discovering. I learned that cooking was no fun without sharing and  that food was only half a meal. Thus my love of wine was awakened. To reexamine one's preconceptions on a regular basis is a lesson I take to heart every time I have the privilege of leading a course for Fine Vintage, Ltd. and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). James Cluer, the MW (Master of Wine) who founded Fine Vintage Ltd., shares a similar passion for wine and we have become great friends over our three years of working together. It is a friendship that creates a particularly engaging atmosphere for learning and that in turn makes the program both comprehensive and enjoyable. 

I'll be teaching Level 1, the "Fundamentals of Wine," at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables on September 10, 2016. This is a wonderful course for anyone who loves wine and wants to understand just what it is they love. We cover the major wine regions of the world, the major grape varieties (paying special attention to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) and how wines from the same grape can differ depending  on where they are made. We learn the famous WSET Structured Tasting Method and practice it on 16 wines in this day-long course.

Beginning October 16 I'll lead the three-day Level 2 course. WSET calls this program "Looking Behind the Label" as we give you a solid grounding (literally, since we discuss terroir!) in wine, emphasizing the complexities of wine, major grape-growing regions of the world, how wine styles differ, the elements of wine and food pairing and an introduction to spirits. The course is offered on the weekend (so day one is Sunday and days two and three are the following Saturday and Sunday). 

 A few of the wines tasted on the first day of the WSET Level 2 course

A few of the wines tasted on the first day of the WSET Level 2 course

At Fine Vintage, Ltd, North America's leading WSET provider we believe you can't understand wine without great examples, so we pay particular attention to the quality of the wines we offer. You'll taste classic examples of Rioja, the great wines of Italy, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Australian Shiraz, Rhône Valley reds and much more. Having excellent wines at examples means you hone your tasting skills on classic elements - when you leave Level 2, you will definitely understand what distinguishes a premier cru Chablis from a Napa Valley Chardonnay and how Chianti and Barolo differ in the glass and on your palate. When you complete the course you will have tasted more than 50 wines showcasing a variety of styles and points of origin. You will be fully immersed int he WSET Systematic Approach to tasting, and you will have developed an excellent library of tasting notes.

Shortly after the first of the year, we will be offering the first WSET Level 3 course in South Florida. This is a long-awaited event of interest to professionals in the wine trade seeking a high-level certification and serious amateurs who want to increase their knowledge of wine and how it is made. Over the course of six days, we'll taste more than 100 wines, and I'm particularly happy that Fine Vintage founder and Master of Wine James Cluer will join me to share the teaching experience. Stay tuned for our announcement of the exact dates for Level 3, and your chance to register for a spectacular wine experience.

More details about Levels 1 and 2 can be found on the events page here, and of course on the Fine Vintage, Ltd. website. If you love wine and want to learn more about it, brush up your tasting skills and meet other people who share your passion, don't miss one of my WSET courses!