One benefit of living the majority of the last year virtually is the ever-expanding list of online experiences. You regularly grocery shop through Instacart, you learned how to expertly craft cocktails via Facebook, you followed a YouTube video on how to knock out a wall that you probably needed a permit for and you’re now a master of all things Zoom (save for that stupid mute button). So why not get your wine education virtually as well? To help you do so, we’ve collected a few Northwest-based wine programs that will keep both your palate and wallet happy for the foreseeable virtual future.
Like most small businesses coping with the double whammy of a pandemic and recession, Disgorged has made a few pivots since launching in 2016 as a pop-up wine bar and complementary podcast. Organized by Seattle sommelier and wine writer Zach Geballe, Disgorged now focuses on online wine education, from classes to salons. The resident somm hosts each over Zoom, with classes featuring a region or varietal/style, like Pinot Grigio/Gris on February 20. And there are interactive salons, which Geballe says “aim to be more conversational than educational, but featuring compelling guests, intriguing topics and plenty of opportunities to learn.” Don’t miss a special rosé salon for the upcoming Hallmark holiday on Thursday, February 11, with wine writer, author and podcaster Katherine Cole. Single classes and salons are $35 and $10, respectively, with bundles available. View the full calendar here.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Wine Companion
From the folks that bring you the iconic PNW brands Chateau Ste. Michelle, Erath and many, many more across the left coast and beyond comes Wine Companion. The free and extremely user-friendly site provides comprehensive and fundamental coverage of wine — from making it to tasting and serving it. “Chapter 2” is dedicated to tasting wine, from instructing how to read wine labels to learning how to best identify color, aroma, structure and flavor of a specific wine. Close out the chapter by watching the “Taste like a Pro” video and taking the quiz to earn a badge you can use for bragging rights.
Sunday School Wine
Not to be confused with donning uncomfortable dress clothes on a weekend morning, Sunday School is a Portland-based wine education and events company. The sessions started as pop-up classes hosted by wine writer Martin Skegg and wine retailer Mallory Smith, but the duo made the mandatory switch to virtual last year, bringing their courses and tastings to the world wide web. Last month, Sunday School launched a monthly membership ($38) with benefits ranging from members-only classes, free access to winemaker tastings, discounts on merch and more. A variety of “Classics” classes are coming up, such as “What the F*** is Orange Wine” and “Uncovering the Secrets of Rosé.” Skegg says he is most looking forward to “The Badass Ladies of Champagne” class on Sunday, March 7. “It’s more of a story class,” he explains. “We do have a Champagne class, but this is more about the history of Champagne and the women that make it what it is today.” Bonus: Sunday School has several retail partners across the country they’ve connected with to help you shop with confidence prior to your class.
Wine Folly’s Wine Styles Tasting Course
This online course was founded on five main objects for attendees: to communicate confidently about wine, to avoid feeling lost in a wine menu, to learn how to taste wine like a pro, to know which terms on wine labels signify quality and to expand attendees’ palates. According to the course’s online reviews, Wine Folly succeeds on all five objects. Created by celebrated sommelier and wine author Madeline Puckette of Seattle-based Wine Folly, the course includes a digital guide to learning wine styles, access to over two hours of hand-curated video content educating on regional wines, tasting tips and maps, plus wine purchasing instructions for the six wine courses for $19 total. Also available are “Ultimate Tasting Packages” for groups of two, six and 12, which include tasting journals, wine flavor circle charts, tasting placemats, a corkscrew and a Champagne stopper, plus the option to add on a pair of wine glasses for each attendee.