Classes

There’s more great wine being made in more places in the world today than somebody doing my job thirty years ago could have imagined.

Marginalized regions neglected for decades are waking up. Farmers are renewing soils long dead from industrial agriculture. New generations of makers are rediscovering local heritage, and experimenting with things nobody’s seen before. People who tradition has locked out of winemaking, land ownership, and compensation for their labor are fighting for, and gaining, access.

I fell in love with wine because you can see the entire world through it. What do you want to think about? Geology? History? Culture, money, chemistry, aesthetics? It’s all in the glass.

These tastings will bring bottles of wine that I love to your doorstep, and with them, the world.

Over a weekly slate of unique and changing class topics, we’ll explore regions whose connection is obscured by national borders, grape varieties overlooked or forgotten, and emerging producers who started making wine after I graduated college. We’ll learn how to talk about what we like, how to serve and store wine, and what might be fun to cook for dinner after the tasting ends.

Kits for remote tastings start at $99, with NYC delivery and nationwide shipping fulfilled through our Brooklyn-based retail partner, Leon & Son.

Each is suitable for 1-5 people. Class kits include three bottles of wine, class materials, and pre- and post-class emails with a weekly playlist, food pairings and service suggestions. You can join the interactive remote session, or opt for a recording and taste on your own time.

Whether you’re a professed wine geek or someone interested in just having some bottles open to drink over the weekend, I hope you’ll find something below that sparks curiosity, and looks delicious:

Solstice Sessions

The skies are darkening earlier, and not just because of daylight saving’s time. Every day is a little shorter than the last. Out in the vineyard, harvest has come and gone, the plant is conserving its energy for the long winter, and fermentations are going to sleep in the cold. It’s quiet in the cellar, and if you’re a grower, it’s the opportunity for a little break before you have to start pruning and begin the cycle again.

As for the rest of us, there’s a reason, I think, why so many of the rituals and gatherings around this time of year are about finding light when it’s scarcest. This solstice season will be the first in two years that some of us are able to see those dearest to us; for others, it may still be a long way off. Below, I’ve tried to put together some opportunities for curious exploration, comfort, and connection over distance — as well as excuses to have some people over that you care about to share these bottles with.

— James

“Destroy Typicity”, or: Wine 101
live remote session Saturday, Dec. 4

Wine is like love: it’s exception-making. Try as we might to reduce its living, breathing complexity to ‘five simple rules’ -type lists, we’ll always start to trip over things that don’t fit as soon as we take a single step off the straight & narrow.

Sancerre is red. Not only is moscato not sweet, sometimes it’s orange. Wines from the “New World” are not inherently riper or oakier than those from the Old. Wine professionals trying to build frameworks and fill in flashcards are as guilty as anyone of falling into the trap of “typicity.”

Whether we’re selling the stuff, studying it, or just trying to bring a bottle home for the holidays, what’s actually helpful for finding new delicious things to drink, and drinking those delicious things? We’ll rebuild wine 101 for a world where everything can be upside-down.

recordings available after the interactive tasting;
purchase a kit here

Underdog Grapes
live remote session Saturday, Dec. 11

The EU will pay you to rip up your carignan, never mind that they’re some of the oldest vines in Europe. The grape may have a rep for toughness, astingency, whatever ‘rustic’ is supposed to mean, but attentive farming and hands-off winemaking reveal something very different: lift, bright acidity, the ability to hold on to freshness even in a hot climate. And more and more climates in the world of wine these days are hot, and getting hotter.

Why are some grapes considered ‘noble’? Why are some…not? A lot of it has nothing to do with inherent worth, but with accidents of money, geography, and power. It’s about the way we choose to pay attention.

Whether in Montsant or Calce, Mendocino or Maule, this underdog grape is capable of something unexpected: grace.

recordings available after the interactive tasting;
purchase a kit here

Underrated Wine Regions
live remote session Saturday, Dec. 18

What happens if we go sailing like the Phoenicians in search of some delicious things to drink?

The first wine in France grew in Marseilles, and it was brought by boat. All along the western Mediterranean two-three thousand years ago, these merchant seafarers planted the seeds of wine cultures that have more in common with each other than they do with the borders we’ve drawn.

Whether we’re drinking malvasia named for a tiny port outside of Barcelona, or grenache on the other side of the Pyrénées, or a wine aged beneath the sea itself, we’ll taste the Mediterranean coast through ancient eyes and see what it can tell us about some of the most exciting wine being made in this part of the world today. 

recordings available after the interactive tasting;
purchase a kit here

High Thread Count Wines ($148)
live remote session Wednesday, Dec. 22

There are a lot of good reasons to pay a couple dollars more for a bottle of wine on a weeknight, if you can: to bear the cost of better farming practices and a living wage for agricultural workers, say, or to support small-scale projects made by people instead of massive brands. But what about when it’s time to splurge a little? 

Whether it’s a gift for someone else or a moment you’re trying to make special, this is a season in which a lot of us are going above and beyond our normal spend. But even at this level, there are wines that are like sinking into high thread-count sheets — and there are wines that, well, are just more expensive.

We’ll taste three handpicked bottles that overdeliver and elevate, and talk about where to look for value in a bottle, whether it’s priced for the everyday or the extraordinary. 

recordings available after the interactive tasting;
purchase a kit here

In-Person

The last year of interactive tastings has been a wonderful way to connect and foster community with wine lovers around the country. While we’ll continue to meet remotely and connect nationwide, we’ll also be planning in-person meetups that are intimate, safe, and meaningful ways for us to relearn how to be in the world. Stay tuned below for upcoming events:

Rule of Thirds
our most recent in-person tasting was on Monday, November 8th. read more about it here

Tip Your Sommelier!

Enjoyed the tasting and want to leave a couple bills on the bar? Tips can be sent via Venmo to @james-sligh. Each week, 50% of my tips will go to initiatives promoting inclusion and social justice in wine and in the wider world.


What’s next?

Pass along your information to get early access to class signups and upcoming events.

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