The top 12 wine classes and programs in Toronto
The top wine classes in Toronto will cover the gamut from easy-going introductory courses and day tours into wine country, up to serious studies of obscure appellations, blind tastings, sommelier certification, and even the biochemical background to winemaking. Those looking to learn a little in a fun environment have plenty options, while budding sommeliers are also well taken care of.
Here are my picks for the best wine classes in Toronto.
Beginner and enthusiast classes
Naturally Ontario's boozopoly has a commitment to education in its remit. It is, after all, the only place really serious wine retail enthusiasts (yes, it's a thing) can get a job in this province outside of working at a vineyard. There's three tiers to get into here: casual walk-around tastings; winemaker-led structured tastings, and multi-course winemaker dinners held at some of the city's top restaurants.
iYellow Wine Club
This free-to-join members club has been setting up tutored tastings and bus tours of wine regions since 2006. Led by Angela Aiello, there's a veritable team of working sommeliers and experts to take you through the process. With a range of events across the city, there's plenty of opportunities to dip your toe in and learn as little or as much as you're comfortable with.
The Wine Ladies
Now you're an all-time grand master of wine, it's probably appropriate to take a load off and get yourself an icewine slushy. Thankfully, Guelph's favourite wine-related radio stars are never far away. Highly skilled in the art of pairing wine and chocolate, you owe it to yourself to listen in to their radio show or any of their numerous guest spots on TV.
Midfield Wine Bar
Peter Boyd, one of Toronto's best sommeliers, leads students in a series of classes called the Secrets of Blind Tasting. The bar will offer two blind flights the week prior to the each class, the first of which takes place on November 23 at 7 p.m. Classes will feature six wines and three courses for $65. But the big draw is really Boyd, who is deeply knowledgable without being too fussy about everything.
The Wine Sisters
If you don't fancy facing a room full of strangers as they gargle and spit about your person, why not club together with a few friends and book the Wine Sisters? Starting at $65 per person with a minimum six people to book a class, Erin and Courtney Henderson run personalized wine classes around a number of themes.
Industry level wine programs
George Brown used to struggle to garner interest in its wine program. Happily, that's not the case these days. Offering a structured environment, you'll have to complete the two introductory classes before you can move onto the more serious stuff. Wines I is a once-a-week class over a three month period, which starts at $486.
The Sommelier Factory
If you're thinking about a career in wine, then classes accredited through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) are the best way to go. Recognized the world over, WSET represents the standard for the wine industry. Once you've taken the certified sommelier program, Sommelier Factory offers an advanced program to prepare you for entrance to the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Certification.
Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers
Bearing in mind that certified sommeliers get to wear those snazzy pins on their lapel, CAPS offers another choice beyond Sommelier Factory to those who want to make a living from their passion. Offering a certified sommelier program through George Brown, CAPS is also the professional association you'll want to join if you're planning on becoming a pro somm.
International Sommelier Guild
WSET might be the most recognized by wine aficionados all over, but if it's a more service-oriented education you're after, the Sommelier Diploma Course offered by ISG really gets to the crux of what it takes to work in the industry. Classes are offered in cellaring, menu design, and investment strategy. If you need practical guidance, ISG might just be for you.
Fine Vintage Ltd.
Another school offering preparation for entry into the highest echelons of the industry, Master Sommelier James Cluer's company operates across 15 countries, and organizes wine tours to some of the old world's finest regions. They also teach the first three WSET levels and offer their proprietary Canadian Wine Scholar certification, which specializes in our national output.
Independent Wine Education Guild
If you like the sound of specialising in one area of wine, but find that the Canadian scene just isn't cutting it (yet), then IWEG, who also administer WSET all the way up to level four, have just the course for you. The French Wine Society's Scholar program offers an in-depth look into arguably the home of fine wine. For $850, successful students get to add another snazzy pin to their lapel.
Oenology and Viticulture at Brock University
OK, so you can blind taste your way through all of Gevrey-Chambertin. If this is the case, it's probably time to put your money where your mouth is, and start making your own wine. Those with a science background will have the opportunity to put their biochemistry to the test with a number of courses in areas as diverse as Cultural Practices or Grape Pest Management.
What did I miss? Add your favourite wine class in Toronto to the comments.
Photo by Derek Flack.
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