Drinking wine: You don’t need much instruction to be good at that. But when it comes to truly understanding and appreciating wine, the whole world can seem like a bit of a mystery. Luckily, there are a number of wine shops and educational centers in New York that offer exceptional seminars and tastings, helping you get to know wine in the best way possible: by drinking it. Here are a few to consider, whether you’re a seasoned oenophile or just learning your malbec from your malvasia.
Mario Batali’s West Village restaurant and pizzeria hosts wine classes every weekend afternoon and Tuesday evening, focusing on the many expressions of Italian wine, accompanied with meats and cheeses to keep you in good drinking shape. Topics range from introductory (Intro to Italian Wine) to specific (the wines of Campania or Trentino-Alto Adige). 1 Fifth Ave., 212-995-9559, ottopizzeria.com
The granddaddy of wine and spirits education in New York (and affiliated with Astor Wine & Spirits, one of the best wine shops in NYC), the Astor Center has wine tastings to suit any palate, from Portuguese wine workshops to Cult Wineries of the Golden Coast, focusing on eclectic California wines. 399 Lafayette St., 212-674-7501, astorcenternyc.com
Chelsea Wine Vault
This wine shop in Chelsea Market offers free walk-in tastings several nights each week, but also holds a number of seminars and classes for more structured tastings, with topics like Best American Wines, Superstars of the Southern Hemisphere, and Rhône Grapes Around the World; classes include snacks and 10 percent off purchase of any wines featured in the class. 75 Ninth Ave., 212-462-4244, chelseawinevault.com
The Institute for Culinary Education offers a wide range of recreational classes, in addition to their professional programs, with one-night classes like Porto and Cheese or Wine for Couples, in addition to extended programs — like the six-week Wine Essentials, an introduction to the most important varietals and wine-growing regions. 50 West 23rd St., 212-847-0700, recreational.ice.edu
“Our mission is to eradicate mystery and snobbery from wine,” says co-founder Shari Schneider, and that’s what this Upper East Side wine shop and “education center” aims to accomplish, with casual daily wine tastings as well as more focused wine classes, whose topics include Italian reds, “California vs. France,” straight-up wine basics, and more. 1657 1st Ave., 212-860-6600, vinoversity.com
If you’re really looking to get deep into wine knowledge, go back to college. NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers a course on Becoming a Wine Expert, a formal six-week course from popular wine writer Todd Coleman, covering wine topics across the board — with plenty of tastings, as well. Classes begin Oct. 16. NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Washington Square area, scps.nyu.edu/academics/course_detail.html?id=FOOD1-CE9006
All this talk of wine getting you inspired to cook? Check out our list of top-notch cooking classes.
Discover more of top places to see and things to do while in New York City with our Best of New York series.