Take a Wine Class This Spring

In this article, I’ll give you information about two series of wine classes beginning soon in Chicago, and tip you off about a third program, beginning in late Spring.

The program where I have enrolled is the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, taught in Chicago by Jessica Bell of the Midwest Wine School.  She visits us from Milwaukee on the weekends to teach the Intermediate and Advanced levels.  (There is also an introductory course (“Foundation”) offered at the Chicago wine store Just Grapes).

In the Intermediate Class (eight weeks), the class focuses on the major black and white grape varieties. Typically five or six wines are tasted in each class; students will learn how to evaluate them via an elaborate grid with fruit, aroma and texture descriptors.  The final class includes a fifty question multiple choice exam.

Upon passing that, students can register for the fifteen week Advanced Class, which gets much more detailed about wines in specific countries/regions.  The tasting grid used in this class gets much more specific about traits such as intensity of color and aroma, and a wine’s potential for aging.  The class concludes with another exam; this time incorporating multiple choice, a blind tasting of two wines and writing (five!) essays.


The start date for Jessica’s Intermediate class is March 5 and the Introductory class starts at Just Grapes on March 14.  Just Grapes will also offer the Intermediate level beginning April 4.  Please click the links above for more information.


Starting March 6, and running for five weeks, Paula Sankarsingh will offer a five week Food and Wine pairing course as part of her event planning company Era of Elegance.  She will focus on topics such as the history of wine, grape growing, sparkling, dessert and port wines, wine flaws, and how to evaluate wine.  For more information, please click on her link above, or contact her at info@ereaofelegance.org or 773-574-5410.


Wine enthusiasts don’t always agree about regions, vintages, etc., but there is almost universal consent that the most prestigious credential in the wine profession is the Master Sommelier designation earned by passing four levels of exams from the Court of Master Sommeliers.  Less than two hundred individuals worldwide have earned this title.


All of them began by passing the Introductory Sommelier Course and exam, which is coming to Chicago on June 6 and 7 from 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. each day.  Yes, it’s a two day package deal which promises, according to their web site:  “intensive instruction over two days from a team of Master Sommeliers and an overview of all the major wine growing regions of the world, as well as instruction in spirits, beer, saké and proper wine service.”


Whew!  And that’s just Level 1!  If you’re brave enough to try this course, please register at the link above.  And if you take any of these classes, please email me your thoughts and ideas on what you liked/disliked.  Good luck and happy studying!

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