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Wine Buying and Tasting Class at 92Y – Part One
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Wine Buying and Tasting Class at 92Y – Part One

I’m really excited about learning wine, but I’ve been putting off this post for a while. I’ve been taking notes in class, having fun trying the wines, learning about old world versus new world, laws in different regions… it’s super intricate, and now I know that eight hours at the 92Y wine classes in NYC are simply not enough time to learn to even think I have a basic understanding of wine.

We have this taste/smell wheel, it’s not exactly that one, but it’s close. We try to explain how things smell to us and come up with things like wet dog and sand. One of my classmates has a tough time with stone; “what does stone smell like?”

“Like pavement after a rainstorm,” I say, and then realizing that this is the wrong explanation.

“Yes,” Joanna says, “Maybe more like a wet rock next to a stream.”

Joanna is a fantastic teacher. She’s never once corrected anyone as far as the tastes and smells we are experiencing. Not once. I say that something isn’t acidic, she just reminds me what kind of feeling acidic is supposed to be, she never says, “Nope. This one is hella acidic.” Of course, everyone smells and tastes things differently. My experience with wet rocks and someone else’s won’t be diametrically opposed, but they could differ slightly.

This is my favorite Wine Library TV episode. It’s worth a click. Here are some of the tasting notes from the video:

Like a girl’s action figure


Subtle Cherry on top of cow poop … on a rock

Gym locker room that you never cleaned out

The woods after a campfire

Good Looking Girlfriend, on a camping trip, roasting marshmallows

Kinda like a mushroom in the bathroom

Blank white paper

I feel like clubbing a gal, dragging her by her hair, and sharing this wine with her

Comes at you like a Stephen Strasburg fastball

“Let’s see the wine spectator describe a wine like that,” Gary says. Obviously, he’s the king of wine descriptors. All hail Gary Vee.

With alcohol comes accidents. This one was the best so far – not me, though. I’m not exempt from this stuff happening. The next write up, I have a picture of the aftermath of my big gaffe – sneezing into my wine glass.

It really is just as bad as it sounds.

When it comes down to it, I love trying new things. I don’t like to have the same thing over and over again, so wine is a very daunting area for me. I don’t think I’d ever buy a case of wine, unless it was for a party I was having or for gifts to people. I value experiences that are completely outstanding, and would buy a bottle twice, or if I needed a go-to for dinner parties, but personally, I’d rather try something new that has a 90% chance of being average than something I’ve already had and excellent. At least you get that 10% opportunity to be blown away.

The one recommendations Joanna keeps going back to is to find a wine merchant whose palate you trust and rely on them. There’s a guy at Bowery and Vine that I like whom I trust, I ended up getting a really interesting bottle of shiraz for $30 (too much), but it had a nice bite on the front and a very session-wine kind of finish. It wasn’t what I wanted when I opened the bottle, but I could recognize the quality.

It’s all so complex! One more class to go and I’ll get my wine Tenderfoot badge.

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