The Best Places to Become an Amateur Sommelier in New York

Most people aren’t aware of the small cooking school nestled next to the swimsuit department on the eighth floor of Macy’s Herald Square. It’s there I found myself last Saturday afternoon, sipping cool Rieslings while most of my food-focused brethren sweated, and waited it out for bite and beer at GoogaMooga.

The school, De Gustibus, was founded in 1980 and has hosted numerous cooks, many who are now celebrity chefs, including Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, and April Bloomfield. The host on Saturday was Juliette Pope, the beverage director of Gramercy Tavern, and she was teaching a three-hour course all about Rieslings. Three hours, and yes, it felt like a long time to me, too. But with 14 vintages to try, numerous nibbles from the restaurant, and more information than I knew was possible to cram in, the class went by in a flash.

Unfortunately Pope’s course was a one-time deal (though she did it last year, so hopefully she will continue the trend), but they do have another class in their Best in Glass series on June 2. This one features wine writer Jim Clarke, who is the beverage manager of Armani Ristorante, and South African chef Hugo Uys. This team will pair South African wines like Chenin Blanc and Syrah, with food by Uys.

Don’t worry, the wine education doesn’t stop there. New York City has a plethora of options, including wine bars that are happy to teach you a thing or two about what you are drinking. Terroir in the East Village is one of them, and their Bible-like book of wine proves almost a class in itself. At City Winery, head winemaker David Lecomte teaches a class on how to craft wine, and, as bonus, you can discuss your newfound knowledge over a flight in their in-house wine bar. As a bonus, you can also buy and compose your own barrel of vino.

Another great place to learn about wine is at master sommelier Laura Maniec’s Corkbuzz Wine Studio in Greenwich Village. Here they offer all sorts of classes from all about Spanish wines to basic wine education. They frequently plan food and wine pairing courses where they match six vintages with themed snacks as a way to teach you how certain foods and wines can enhance the other. Coming up on June 15, they will feature pizza pairings.

That’s right, wine goes with pizza. In fact, it goes with everything, and now, given the availability of classes and chatty experts, is a great time to stick your nose up, and put it right in that glass.