Ever wonder why so many people are both intrigued -- and intimidated -- by wine? Consider this, which a woman told me several years when I was working on a story about home wine classes.
"This is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this," she said. She and her husband were at a friend's house in suburban Fort Worth, where they were participating in a class. "We don’t even drink. But we were out to dinner the other night, and we ordered a filet, and we wanted wine to have with it, and we were clueless. We didn’t know what to get. So we decided we’d better go and get educated."
And, frankly, a home wine class is a great way to learn -- and the Wine Curmudgeon says this even allowing for the shameless plug. You're among friends, the atmosphere is cordial, and there is much less intimidation than if you were at a store or restaurant. I've been doing it for five or six years now, and I don't know that any of them weren't fun (save for the bridal shower, which is probably worth a short story of New Yorker proportions).
In this type of class, you hire a professional, who comes to your house and gives the class. It's more formal than having people over to share wine, though that subject is worth a blog post, too. Hosting a home wine doesn’t require experience or wine knowledge as much as some pre-tasting preparation. After the jump, eight questions to ask if you want to do a home wine class:
• What’s your theme? There isn’t a right or wrong answer; rather, it depends on your preference and the people you’re going to invite. Novices would appreciate a wine basics class, while those with more savvy would probably want something more sophisticated, like comparing the same wine made in different parts of the world.
• Who will give the class? Check out LocalWineEvents.com, which lists wine educators in most of the major cities in the country. Also, retailers, restaurants, colleges with culinary programs, and cooking schools will sometimes have someone who does classes. Regardless, ask for references and credentials -- have they done classes before? What’s their specialty? How long have they done it?
• What exactly happens? The class covers wine basics like how to hold a glass, the difference between red and white wine, what to look for when tasting wine, wine and food pairings and even how to spit (the Wine Curmudgeon's favorite part.) Classes are usually less than 20 people, and typically cover six or so wines that fit the theme.
• How much will it cost? If you want to hire someone without a retailing connection, count on spending at least $300, not including the cost of the wine. Some retailers or restaurants may charge less or even waive the fee, counting on the goodwill to make up the difference, or requiring that you the wine for the tasting from them.
• Do you have enough glasses? Don’t laugh – this is actually something often overlooked. When’s the last time you had a dozen people to your home to drink wine?
• What about food? It’s good idea, especially since wine goes better with food. Ask the educator or consultant for suggestions if you’re at a loss, but figure on things like cheese and fruit, bread and crackers, and simple appetizers.
• How long does it take? Count on an hour to 90 minutes for the actual presentation, and then allow time for the guests to talk about the wine, ask questions of the educator or consultant, and to finish enjoying themselves. Because, almost invariably, most people have a good time.
• What's the law? If you ask a retailer or restaurateur to give a class, check with your local alcohol regulator if they're allowed to sell wine to your guest. In most states, they can't.
The photo is from Penywise of Everett, Wash., via stock.xchng, using a Creative Commons license