7 wine classes in Toronto
Wine classes in Toronto aren't just for snobs, though you might become one after taking a few. Possessed with the knowledge, for instance, that Zinfandel is basically the same grape as Primitivo, you're likely to be overcome with the desire to share this tidbit at every future social gathering you attend. That won't make you the coolest person in the room, but when people want wine recommendations, they'll come to you first — and that's something.
More seriously, the nice thing about good consumer-oriented wine classes is that they're not particularly esoteric at all. The best sessions are those where a healthy passion for wine is fostered via some learning and, more importantly, tasting. Should you want to get into the technical stuff — like, say, malolactic fermentation and carbonic maceration — there's classes for that too, but they're directed at training future sommeliers so aren't cheap or necessarily all about fun.
Here's a rundown of wine classes on offer in Toronto.
The LCBO offers two types of wine education at selected stores throughout the province: 1) tutored tastings and 2) wine appreciation courses, the latter of which are more in depth. Both have their merits, but the region-specific classes (Wines of the World, $130) are the most information-dense.
Midfield Wine Bar
Midfield describes its wine club as casual and informative, both of which are true. There are no noses in the air here (they are, rather, stuck inside a wine glass). Presented in collaboration with Good Egg, so far the series has taken a look at the wines of Piemonte, sparkling wines, and that most wonderful Italian grape — Sangiovese. Class prices are generally around $50 but vary depending on the cost of the wines being served (this is a good deal). Watch out for a future class on Grenache, which I plan to attend.
iYellow Wine Club
Run by Taylor Thompson, the sommelier at the Ritz-Carlton these classes ($45 each) are less stuffy than you might think given the location and are a solid value given that you get to try six wines per session (there's usually cheese on offer too). Class sizes are less intimate than what you'll find at Midfield, for instance, but not so large that you'd feel intimidated asking a question in front of the group. They also might not be the worst place to pick-up, but I make no promises as to your odds at such an endeavour.
George Brown Wine Specialist Certificate
Although George Brown also hosts the CAPS Sommelier Certificate courses (see below), this "wine specialist" program is a little less intense. While still attended mostly by (would-be) industry types, it's not uncommon to see straight-up wine lovers enrol in classes merely to expand their knowledge base. The introductory course comes in at $466, but offers 36 hours of instruction.
Fine Vintage WSET Courses
OK, so you can already name all the classified growth estates in Bordeaux, you want an advanced wine class to take it to the next level. Taught by David Lawrason, these classes — which depending on your level and time commitment range from $349 to $1,399 — are designed for the serious oenophile. You'll need to have six ISO tasting glasses to participate, which can be purchased for $45 at your first class.
Independent Wine Education Guild
Much of the classes on offer here are for those who are serious about the industry and wine education, though hardcore enthusiasts will likely still be interested in some of what's on offer. There's a wide variety of courses to choose from (including those for beer lovers, but the most popular are the WSET classes, which range from level one ($300) to level four ($5000+).
CAPS Sommelier Certificate
So you love wine enough that you want to make a career out of it. I'm not sure if that's a great idea, but I know where you should go to hone your craft. The CAPS Sommelier Certificate is a good bet, offering 250+ hours of training (plus 60 hours in the field) for $4,500. This is the real deal, so if you're just a keener with a lot of time and money, maybe try something else on the list first.
Know of a Toronto wine class that's worth a mention? Let us know in the comments.