School starts this week, and wine students are getting ready, too. For years, Charlotte has enthusiastically embraced wine, helped through excellent events such as the Charlotte Wine and Food Weekend and the Great Grapes Festival, as well as small tasting groups.
However, more formalized programs for wine lovers are relatively new. It is stunning how much has changed about wine education here in the last decade. There is a tasting, dinner event or class available at a wine shop, restaurant or wine bar pretty much every night of the week.
These are just a sample of available classes, so check with your favorite venues for upcoming events:
▪ Arthur’s Wine Shop at SouthPark mall hosts several events a week, often with a regional theme: arthurswineshop.com.
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▪ Corkbuzz Restaurant and Wine Bar holds educational classes, including Wine 101 on Sept. 5: charlotte.corkbuzz.com.
▪ Reid’s Fine Foods at Selwyn Corners is hosting a seven-week class on Tuesday nights beginning Oct. 13. Led by the knowledgeable and fun James Corbin, regional manager for Grapevine Distributors, this promises to be a good one: www.reids.com.
If you are really serious and considering a more formal class, there are many options, some with local classes, and some available online. Several organizations provide certification. Like a lot of wine educators, I’ve completed a number of certifications and taught for several of these organizations.
The good news is that all the programs are excellent, providing rigorous, structured education. Each has a different focus, but the same goal of providing in-depth exploration of wines around the world.
The bad news is that the certifications available are confusing. The Guild of Sommeliers has an excellent article that explores the various available certifications, demystifying the mysterious and complicated post-nominal letters students earn for use after their names. Although their website is subscription-based, the article is available in the public content area, at www.guildsomm.com.
▪ Johnson & Wales University, www.jwu.edu, offers the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) introductory, intermediate, and advanced classes for those looking for hands-on instruction.
▪ The Court of Master Sommeliers hosts an introductory class that is, hands-down, the most fun I’ve ever had at a wine course. It’s held in locations around the South.
With so many opportunities to learn and enjoy wine, the issue becomes how to fit it all in.
Catherine Rabb is co-owner of Fenwick’s and a senior instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. Email: Catherine.email@example.com.