If the only thing you know about wine is that you love wine, you might be a perfect candidate for some wine education. Learning about wine will enhance your appreciation of the product and help you choose wines that you like with greater confidence and accuracy. Wine education can teach you how to decipher wine labels so you have a basic understanding of what a wine will taste like before opening it.

Studying wine will help you to appreciate why wines from particular regions or made using certain techniques taste a recognizable way. If you’re ready to get beyond picking a wine just because it has a fun picture on the label or because it’s on sale, the time might be right for you to expose yourself to some wine education, formal or otherwise. Find here just a few avenues for learning more about wine.

Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET)

The Wine and Spirit Education Trust is one of the most recognized institutions for formalized wine education in the world. WSET is based in London, England, but its programming is offered in over 50 countries worldwide, including Canada. The benefits of WSET education are many. Accreditation in one country gives the alumnus the benefit of his or her credentials being recognized in all other countries where the program is offered. Textbook studies at home will offer an overview of the different winemaking techniques and different geographical traits that influence the appearance, smell, and taste of wine, and sensory evaluation skills will be honed in the classroom where students taste dozens of different wines from around the world. WSET learning is centred upon its trademarked “Systematic Approach to Wine Tasting,” which is a sampling methodology designed to allow a taster to assess different wines on an equal playing field. The student learns how to assess the style and quality of a wine in an impartial way that removes his or her personal preference from the equation. Learn how to train your eyes, nose, and tongue so that you can see, sniff, and sip wine in a manner that exposes you to the greatest amount of sensory information possible. WSET programming is great for consumers who seek the ability to distinguish between the major wine styles from around the world simply through smelling and tasting. WSET offers a variety of programming that will satisfy the curiosities of novices and advanced learners alike. Level 1 consists of a single day of class, whereas the WSET Diploma program is 2 years of detailed learning.

Brock University, Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute’s ‘Certificate in Ontario Wine’

WSET education is great if you want to learn about wines from around the world, but if you want to focus your learning on the wines that are produced right here at home, the Certificate in Ontario Wine offered by the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) at Brock University is the way to go. Because the Ontario wine industry currently exports very little of its wine product, WSET fails to cover the world-class wines we are making except to mention that we make most of the world’s Icewine. The Certificate in Ontario Wine makes up the difference by offering detailed learnings on the appellations and sub-appellations for grape growing in Ontario, as well as the laws governing quality grape growing and winemaking laid out by the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA). This program is offered online, making it a great choice for persons who don’t live in Niagara or who are working fulltime and cannot commit to a regimented school schedule. This program is also recognized by the Wine Council of Ontario (recently rebranded as “Ontario Craft Wineries”), making the successful candidate accredited by this reputable body upon his or her successful completion.

Niagara Vintage Wine Tours

If you’re looking for a way to learn about wine without the stress accompanied with studying and having to write test, joining a professional and educational wine tour with Niagara Vintage Wine Tours (NVWT) is the choice for you. NVWT offers the perfect combination of learning and fun! In a single day, guests of NVWT have the opportunity to taste the myriad of wine styles that Niagara produces. Guests enjoy the added benefit of exploring the beautiful countryside where Niagara’s grapes are grown, visiting the winery sites themselves, and seeing the inner workings of a winery with the showcasing of a winemaking facility and working barrel cellar. Every tour is hosted by a knowledgeable and approachable Wine Smart Guide who has studied wine as a career or has worked in the Niagara wine industry firsthand. NVWT’s guides are excited to share their knowledge with you, and guests are encouraged to ask lots of questions in a supportive and non-judgemental environment. Best of all, you have the chance to take home the wines that you especially enjoyed during your tour. To learn more about the tours that NVWT offers, call their guest services agents today at 1-866-628-5428.

One of the best things about seeking wine education is that the learning never stops. There isn’t a wine critic in the world who knows it all or a single sommelier who has tried every wine produced. Grape growing and winemaking is an evolving industry subject to trends and new innovations. If you are a lover of lifelong learning, studying wine may be the perfect discipline or hobby for you.

Michael Twyman
Sommelier and Wine Smart Guide for Niagara Vintage Wine Tours and Bootleggers

* The opinions and recommendations in this article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect Niagara Vintage Wine Tours or Bootleggers.