Wine Courses for Enthusiasts

(Toronto and Southern Ontario)

Once you get "the bug" to learn more about wine, you probably will want to taste, taste, and taste some more. But for most people tasting is something of an acquired skill, and some focused classroom time can be a big help.

A great place to start, if you can make the drive to Brock University in St. Catharines, is with the wine appreciation courses at CCOVI (the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute). The instructor is Chris Waters, editor of Vines Magazine, who focuses on what's in the glass, while providing some interesting background information. The classes usually have a mix of CCOVI students, industry participants from wineries and the LCBO, and casual wine enthusiasts. There are no tests in the first two classes, so you can just relax and enjoy the experience.

  • Wine Appreciation I - Exploring Varietals September - December (Annual) Duration: 12 weeks Cost: $300.00 Course Instructor: Christopher Waters
  • Wine Appreciation II - Explore the Wine Regions of the World January-April, (Annual) Duration: 12 weeks Cost: $325.00 Course Instructor: Christopher Waters
  • Introduction to the Wines of Ontario January - March (Annual) Duration: 9 weeks Cost: $250.00 Course Instructor: Christopher Waters Includes the Wine Council of Ontario Certification.

For more information please go to the CCOVI website here.

While all of the courses we recommend have a significant focus in tasting, we've come to appreciate how learning more about viticulture and viniculture, varietals and wine regions enhances our enjoyment of wine. George Brown College offers a program in wine appreciation that focuses a little more on the background to the wines you taste, and asks you to write several short essays and take a short written and tasting exam. Since we have found that links may change, we suggest that you go to the George Brown Continuing Education website and go from there.

There are numerous "professional" courses offered that focus on specific areas such as sommelier training, marketing and business. One course of study that makes sense for the amateur enthusiast, but that also caters to industry participants, is the Intermediate or Level II WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) course. This is offered in many places around the country, but in Toronto see the IWEG website, and in Niagara region go to the CCOVI website. More advanced courses are available for those who complete Level II, but they can become a very significant time commitment.

The LCBO sponsors numerous tasting events. These can be very exciting, but at the same time they can be very large, crowded and intimidating. For most of us, attending a Burgundy or Bordeaux tasting of this kind might be one of our few opportunities to taste and compare some of the world's most prestigious wines. A word of advice: if you haven't developed your tasting approach to the point where you can happily "spit", take a chaperone and definitely don't drive!