The Best Online Wine Classes of 2020

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Our Top Picks

Wine education has officially joined the virtual space, and you can learn about and experience wine with top sommeliers from around the country (and the world) from the comfort of your own home. Virtual wine classes are now offered by a mix of acclaimed wine schools, wine shops, restaurants, wine bars, and individual sommeliers.

Sign up for a one-time wine 101 class to learn about how wine is made, toast with friends over a live group wine tasting, or enroll in a full semester of self-paced programming. To help you choose which is the best fit for you, we researched the best online wine classes available, whether you are an everyday wine drinker, wine hobbyist, or professional sommelier, and put together this list of the top options.

Best Overall: Napa Valley Wine Academy

Napa Valley Wine Academy

Napa Valley Wine Academy

With classes for wine enthusiasts and industry professionals, the Napa Valley Wine Academy has an impressive selection of online, self-paced courses. As an approved and award-winning program provider of the internationally recognized Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), this California-based school offers a range of courses from single workshops and virtual tastings to intensive wine and spirit certification courses for professionals.

Sign up for an introductory class such as How to Choose Wine Like a Pro ($49) and you will spend 1–2 hours learning about major wine varieties and what to consider when choosing wine. There's also a Wine 101 Foundation course, which offers a more comprehensive introduction to wine. All courses come with optional quizzes or exams to obtain certificates of completion as well as one year of access to the course materials.

The Napa Valley Wine Academy also offers curated courses on regional wines and professional certification courses, which are designed to take over multiple days and weeks. Not sure which classes are right for you? The website offers a brief survey to help guide you to the right course.

Best for a Single Wine 101 Class: MasterClass

MasterClass

MasterClass

In addition to a variety of classes on everything from fashion design and space exploration to the art of home cooking, MasterClass has an online wine appreciation course led by world-renowned wine critic and producer James Suckling. For $180, students spend more than 2 hours learning about all aspects of wine, from the vine to the glass.

The course is divided into 11 video lessons on viticulture and wine-producing across different global regions and covers tasting techniques, storing and curating wine, and reading and ordering from a wine list. Suckling also touches on the rules and recommendations for pairing wine with food, the factors that influence a great wine during cultivation (like soil and climate), and the common characteristics of different varietals and key elements of wine when tasting.

The course is designed to deepen your appreciation of wine and its history, make you a more confident wine drinker, and have some fun along the way.

Best Variety: Wine School of Philadelphia

Wine School of Philadelphia

Wine School of Philadelphia

Recognized as one of the top wine schools in the U.S. by SOMM, an independent board comprised of sommeliers and others in the wine industry, the Wine School of Philadelphia offers a full range of programming.

People interested in learning some of the basics of wine can take the 1-hour Wine 101 class or similar courses, while more serious wine drinkers looking to become a certified sommelier can take one of several classes that last for three months. All classes are taught by sommeliers over Zoom.

With the Wine School of Philadelphia, you can also attend a virtual wine tasting, learn about the great wines of Rioja, Tuscany, and Greece, and pick up some trade secrets from sommeliers—such as how to spend less money on high-quality wine. You can ask questions in real-time and chat with others about the wines you have tasted. Check the school's calendar of virtual classes for course offerings. At just $11.99 per 1-hour class, these are a fantastic deal for some educational and virtual fun.

Best for Natural Wine Classes: Children’s Atlas of Wine

Children’s Atlas of Wine

Children’s Atlas of Wine

Founded by Brooklyn-based sommelier, writer, and educator James Sligh, the Children’s Atlas of Wine is an online platform dedicated to selling fine art prints of regional wine maps as well as providing wine education through remote workshops and home wine kits. 

For $108 plus shipping, you can order a class wine “kit” that includes three bottles of wine delivered to your door to start enjoying during class, along with food pairing suggestions, class materials, and a link to an 80-minute virtual tasting with Sligh. Class topics change weekly but will feature natural wines from lesser-known grape varieties and new emerging producers, all of which are farmed without chemicals and wild fermented. In addition to learning about the history of the specific wine in your kit, discussions will include how to have meaningful conversations about wine, how to serve and store wine, and how to pair food with wine.

Because the wines featured are not mainstream, these classes are a great fit for both recreational wine drinkers and professionals alike. Private sessions are available upon request. Advance registration is required to allow time for wines to ship, so check the class calendar to sign up and purchase kits before registration closes.

Best for Regional Classes: Corkbuzz

Corkbuzz

Corkbuzz

With locations in New York City and Charlotte, North Carolina, restaurant and wine bar Corkbuzz started offering virtual wine classes in early 2020 and has since hosted thousands of people via Zoom. Classes are primarily organized by region—you'll learn about the sparkling wines of Italy, wines made in the Pacific Northwest, Australian and New Zealand wines, and more. For just $10 per ticket, attendees will spend 1 hour learning about wine regions, history, geography, and producers led by a Corkbuzz sommelier.

Wines are preselected to pair with each class and can be available for local pickup or purchased on your own. Classes are held live, and attendees can ask questions and interact with the instructor. For $30, you can watch several months' worth of previous classes such as blind tasting workshops and courses on sparkling wines and biodynamic wines.

Corkbuzz offers private virtual events upon request.

How Is a Virtual Wine Tasting Conducted?

A virtual wine tasting varies based on the format of the class. For example, the Children’s Wine Atlas ships wine to you in advance of the class so you can open the same bottle together and taste it while the instructor is live. Others such as Corkbuzz offer both live and prerecorded classes and have suggestions to pick your own favorite wine that matches the theme of the class.

Are All Wine Classes Set up to Include a Virtual Tasting?

Tastings are not necessarily part of the class. Many wine classes, especially those from online wine schools, offer classes on wine history or producing as well as tips for buying wine and are not solely focused on the tasting. Still, opening your favorite bottle of wine during any of these classes is encouraged.

How Much Do Online Wine Classes Cost?

Prices vary, but overall they are very reasonable—particularly for recreational classes. They can cost as little as $10 or $12 for a 1-hour class without wine included or over $100 for a longer class with three bottles of wine included. Months-long courses certified by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), however, are priced at $1,000 or more.

How We Chose the Best Online Wine Classes

The programs in this list were selected after extensive research of each organization’s credibility and reputation, along with consultation with industry professionals. A variety of course offerings, pricing, and customer reviews were also taken into consideration. We selected both the Napa Valley Wine Academy and the Wine School of Philadelphia because they offer numerous certification classes through their online wine schools, while we chose MasterClass as the best option for someone who wants a more basic overview of wine. If natural wines are your interest or if you want actual wine delivered to your door for a live tasting, sign up for a class offered by the Children’s Atlas of Wine. For regional wine education at a great value, Corkbuzz is the place for you.

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