Let’s face it, the world of wine is so vast and large that it can be a little intimidating, especially for a beginner! There are so many fascinating aspects to wine that there’s always something to learn, thanks to the more than 1000 global grape varieties and the 70 wine-producing countries that have multiple wine regions, it can be never-ending. Master Sommeliers and wine professionals spend most of their careers expanding their knowledge by increasing and developing their palates.
What many wine enthusiasts and oenophiles may not realize is that there are many high-quality free online resources such as courses, videos, and podcasts. Online wine courses are a great tool to help build a foundation if your thinking of working in the wine field or if you’re just looking to refine your wine tasting skills. The best part is you can do it in the comfort of your own home! Its good to note that a majority of the free courses offer certification at the end of the course, obtained from an accredited college for just a small fee, which especially comes in handy if you are looking to work in a tasting room or assist in winemaking.
Finding suitable free online wine courses, however, can turn into a painfully frustrating search as the internet is full of activities, so we narrowed down some of the best free online learning activities to help you get started.
Wine Tasting: Sensory Techniques by University of California (Coursera)
For the learner who is just getting started in the study of wine, this beginner course will help you take the first steps toward understanding the physiological process of wine tasting. This course requires a little more commitment as it’s broken down into 2 modules over a course of 4 weeks, helping you to learn how to set up your own tasting, pick up sensory vocabulary, examine the defects in wine, and master the techniques used to spot the defects. (free to audit, paid version for certificate also available)
World of Wine: From Grape to Glass
Whether you’re a wine novice or a seasoned oenophile, you’ll learn to confidently describe wine appearance, aroma, flavor, and taste with this free course. Suitable for beginner and intermediate enthusiasts, this course highlights a range of wine industry topics over six weeks, from wine styles, sensory evaluation, vineyard management, production, winemaking, and wine science. (free to audit, paid version for certificate also available)
Supermarket chain Aldi partnered with resident wine expert, Sam Caporn Master of Wine, to create this beginner introductory course that’s broken into 6 modules. These modules help you to learn more about wine in an approachable way by including topics discussing wine varietals, styles, teach you how to taste, how to read labels and understand wine jargon.
Wines of South Africa
This free course features six modules covering a variety of topics ranging from history of South African wine varietals, wine styles, winegrowing regions, farming sustainability, and tourism. Each module takes about one to two hours and ends with a multiple choice quiz, which you’ll need to pass at a minimum of 80% of correct answers in order to progress to the next. You’ll also be able to save your session to log in at another time and redo the test if you’re unsuccessful in your first attempt. (certificate of completion issued at the end of the course)
This free course features 25 topics and has over 200 modules all focusing on Australian wine, including its many varieties and regions. It also contains themed sections such as Foundations of Australian wine, Organic and biodynamic wine, and Aged Australian wines. Students can also enjoy additional downloadable resources to support you like tasting mats and videos.
Rioja Wine Academy
This free online educational platform made up of a range of courses each focusing on different student profiles, all free of charge focusing on Wines from Rioja. Broken up into three categories: The Rioja Wine Diploma which is mainly aimed at enthusiasts; the Diploma in Rioja Wine for Trade and Distribution allows professionals to ‘establish the bases for Rioja wine sales and marketing and the Diploma in Rioja Wine Tourism focuses on the ‘implementation of experiences, activities, customer service, situation management, wine and tasting services.
Interested in learning about Champagne? Comité Champagne’s program offers three training pathways for enthusiasts as well as educators: novices, enthusiasts, and lovers. In this course, you will first be asked a range of questions to assess your level of knowledge, then assigned a suitable pathway. The program explores wine-growing regions, vines, winemaking, tasting and history, and ends with a quiz. Prefer a mobile version? Well, you can also test your knowledge on the Champagne Campus app too, which features 150 questions on Champagne wines and the Champagne region.
The Sherry counsel is located in Spain and periodically offers in-class training to those looking to become educators and sommeliers so check it out if you happen to visit. In the meantime, you can hop onto their website to learn all about Sherry including its history, viticulture, winemaking, aging, and bottling.
Bourgogne Wines + Bourgogne Maps
Do you want to know more about Bourgogne wines and become an expert in 90 minutes? This free eLearning package is a valuable reference tool in terms of improving your knowledge about Bourgogne wines. Its a fun, interactive program complete with 360-degree photos, downloadable files, quizzes, maps, and will you teach you the lingo on how to express yourself when tasting wine from Bourgogne.
Wine Folly’s website, youtube channel, and blog are a popular and fun platform for all wine enthusiasts! Award-winning wine communicator Madeline Puckette’s enthusiastic approach makes exploring wine regions and palate tasting fun. Their youtube videos feature how to learn styles by drinking wine, help you to compare regions and varietals, and feature interviews with industry experts.
The Grape Explorer
Based in the UK, this youtube channel was created by a level 3 WSET “Grape Explorer” and showcases wine regions, wine varietals, tasting notes, interactive WSET-based quizzes, and product reviews. For those interested in taking the WSET levels 1-3, this channel is definitely suitable to help you study!
V is for Vino
Certified sommelier Vince Anter’s independently produced series takes viewers on a journey around the world. Each episode features a destination where Vince takes you through the local culture of wine, vineyard geography, agriculture, economy, and the experience of wine drinking.
Now that you have some suggested online resources, why wait? It’s so easy to learn all about wine without ever having to step foot in a classroom.
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