News & Politics

Have More Fun: Wine Appreciation

Get to know the wine - and what goes with it

Do the words “Would you like to look at the wine list?” send shivers up your spine? Here’s how to get started learning about wine.

Look for former Washington Post wine columnist Michael Franz’s popular classes at L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda (301-986-9490; . Classes ($65 or $70) range from “Great Starts and Big Finishes: Champagne and Port” to “Tasting Along Italy’s Backroads.”

Suzanne McGrath of the Curious Grape (4056 S. 28th St., Arlington; 703-671-8700; —whose mission is “bringing wines back down to earth”—offers well-regarded free seminars on topics from the wines of Spain to pairing wine with chocolate. The store also arranges private tastings; check the Web site for details.

“Wine Basics 101” ($55), with Charlie Adler, president of, is a sampling of nine wines that teaches you how to order in a restaurant, learn about varietals, match wine with food, and save money. The class, which has attracted more than 10,000 people, takes place about every six weeks.

The French Wine Society (202-466-0808; hosts French Wine Thursdays at restaurants featuring food-and-wine pairings by people such as chefs Yannick Cam and Bob Kinkead. Cost ($45 to $100) varies depending on the wine and menu.

The Washington Wine Academy (703-922-9422; hosts tastings, dinners, and social events around town. If you join its Cork Club ($75 single membership, $135 double), you receive discounts at area wine shops.

Good books for novices include The Wine Guy: Everything You Want to Know About Buying & Enjoying Wine From Someone Who Sells It by Andy Besch and Wine for Women: A Guide to Buying, Pairing, and Sharing Wine by Leslie Sbrocco.

More advanced books include Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide by Robert M. Parker Jr.—considered the world’s foremost wine expert—and Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible.

Nycci Nellis’s online newsletter, “The List: Are You On It?” ( , is full of information on local wine-related happenings. is a national Web site that includes Washington events. Other sites worth bookmarking:,, and

—Monica Bhide