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As so much of life moves online in modern times, so too has everything drinks-related. It has never been easier to pick up a new hobby, learn a new skill or become an expert on something you’re passionate about, and the world of wine is no exception. These are the best online wine classes to take to become a bona fide expert, regardless of budget.
The 5 Best Online Wine Classes of 2020
Best for Sparkling Wine: Champagne MOOC (Comité Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne)
If you’re looking to learn the ins and outs of Champagne, there are two courses offered by the CIVC that allow you the perfect opportunity to do so. The Classic version (free) covers the winemaking process as well as the Champagne region’s terroir, history and economy, along with a diversity and tasting module. The Premium version ($53) builds upon the Classic version’s curriculum, adding extra videos, testing and a statement of completion at the end. Both courses are offered in English and French, with subtitles available in seven additional languages.
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Best in a Time Crunch: Mastering Wine: Jancis Robinson's Shortcuts to Success (Udemy)
British wine writer Jancis Robinson is a revered figure in the wine industry. Thanks to online course marketplace Udemy, beginners can learn the basics of wine through Robinson’s eyes, improving their overall confidence on the subject in the process. This course covers how to navigate labels and common wine language, identifying value wines, tasting like a pro at home or in restaurants and more. Mastering Wine is a three-and-a-half-hour course, available on demand with no expiration ($200). Udemy also offers other courses for beginners and beyond, such as Wine in Nine, led by winemaker Mike Mazey (six hours), David Baer’s Wine Confidence (four hours), Wine in One Hour with WineIQ, and more.
Best for Service Industry: SommDay School Service Workshop (Napa Valley Wine Academy)
Developed by master sommelier Tim Gaiser for Napa Valley Wine Academy, SommDay is a two-phase wine course consisting of a seven-hour Service Workshop ($69) and a Deductive Tasting ($199) portion. This is a serious crash-course duo for hospitality professionals looking to hone their service and tasting skills, as well as prepare those hoping to become sommeliers. Through these intensive workshops, students can improve their tableside manner while improving their sensory perception and getting a taste of what it’s like to be a sommelier.
For those who are seeking a more specialized experience, Napa Valley Wine Academy’s one-on-one online coaching sessions put its panel of experts at your fingertips. Simply select a mentor and book a time slot to begin your personalized 30- or 60-minute session based on holes that need filling in your knowledge or your general future career goals.
Best for Palate Training: Wine Tasting: Sensory Techniques for Wine Analysis (UC Davis)
UC Davis and Coursera have teamed up for this free sensory wine course. Designed for beginners looking to get a full-spectrum understanding of how the senses interpret wines, winemaker John Buechsenstein’s syllabus takes students through tasting techniques, sensory vocabulary, wines of the world, flight building, pairings, and common faults and defects found in wines, concluding with a final peer review. Students complete the course on their own timeline; four to six weeks is the goal.
Best for Wide Recognition: WSET Awards and Diploma in Wines, Various Levels
Founded in 1969, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s Award and Diploma programs are among the most widely recognized accreditations in the wine industry. On its website, there are more than 800 providers for its various wine, spirits and sake course levels, across 72 countries and in numerous languages, many of which offer online options.
Now that these providers have had to adapt more than ever to digital demand, WSET is stepping up its game accordingly to enhance the online learning experience for students and educators, making its remote opportunities even more accessible than before. Students can enroll virtually to take Levels 1-3 Awards and the Level 4 Diploma through approved providers. The courses themselves consist of rigorous hands-on foundational curricula surrounding grape varieties, geography, tasting technique, service, pairing, appellations, commercial principles and more.
WSET’s Level 1 Award is an excellent option for beginners but can be skipped for those who already hold a basic understanding of wine principles, in which case Level 2 would serve as their introductory course. Level 3’s sharper focus deepens product knowledge and prepares students for upper management, while Level 4 preps students for the prestigious Master of Wine Program. Each level concludes with its own exam.
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