There’s more great wine being made in more places in the world today than somebody in my position 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 could see the whole world through it. What do you want to think about? Chemistry, history, geology? Aesthetics, settler colonialism, how trees talk to one another? It’s all in the glass.
Whether in person or via remote class kits, we’ll learn languages to help us find new delicious things to drink, and the contexts that brought them to us.
In-person classes are held regularly around the communal table at OSTUDIO in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. [current schedule] Remote class kits ship nationwide and are fulfilled throughout NYC by our Brooklyn-based retail partner, Leon & Son. Stay tuned for pop-ups, dinners, and workshops anywhere we find a space run by friends, colleagues, and people we love.
Read more about the winter remote class season below:
Wine’s deep history is wider and stranger than what we’ve been taught ‘traditional wine’ can be. Digging into that history to find the stories we don’t tell can help us understand the people and places that are writing wine’s future.
Remote class kits ship nationwide, and include three bottles of wine, maps + pairing suggestions, a custom playlist, and the option of a live interactive remote tasting or a class recording.
Regions considered classics have often made wine for a long, long time — but the wine they were making for most of that history might not look much like what we’ve been taught to expect. Not so long ago, pinot grigio was the color of rose gold. Prosecco was cloudy pét-nat. Barolo was pink + fizzy. Sancerre was red.
When was ‘traditional’ invented? And who’s making wines today that remind us of what came before it?
Champagne is a cold, northern winegrowing region. For a long time, it bottled pale co-ferments the color of onion skins and partridge eyes.
Champagne is a technology, refined over a hundred years by English shippers and German merchant families, the ultimate modernist beverage: dependent on coal, carried on railroads, advertised in mass media Art Deco posters, its terroir fertilized with plastic garbage bags and carved up by WWI trenches.
As a method, its manufacture spread far beyond the region’s borders, from Cincinnati to Ukraine. As a winegrowing region, its growers have been grappling with its contradictions ever since.
Three bottles that unpack both—for saving, safekeeping, and sharing.
But how did it all begin?
In Central Asia, 5,500 years before the grapes on this Athenian drinking cup were painted. Our earliest evidence of winemaking survives as traces on pottery shards in archeological sites scattered through the Caucasus.
In the present-day Republic of Georgia, used as a factory for sweet red wine by the Russian empire for centuries, ancestral winemaking knowledge was kept alive—barely—by home winemakers in the countryside. And today, the people reviving these ancient wines are, increasingly, women and outsiders who tradition would have never let in.
The history of winegrowing in the ‘New World’ doesn’t start in Napa, or with European vines. It has its roots in Mapuche fruit fermentations and North Carolina forests. It encompasses dozens of vine species that are native to the Americas, and goes back half a millennium.
From hybrid wines to own-rooted ‘criollas’, and from southern Chile to the Appalachian Mountains, we’ll explore what it means to be a grape variety that’s ‘native’ to a region, and taste bottles that retell the story of American wine.
live tasting 2.11.23 / buy class kit /
multipack ep. 1-4
What happens when a wine leaves where it’s grown to become a luxury good?
For Madeira, beloved of the American Founding Fathers, it meant intentional sweetness, fortification with brandy, cooking in the holds of slave ships.
Madeira is a unique wine from a unique place: a volcanic island off the coast of Africa, repository of nearly-extinct varieties. But it’s also just the most famous survivor of what was done to all wines that ended up on boats.
Until the middle of the 19th century, Bordeaux was fortified to cross the Channel; sweet wines were king; it was impossible to taste the sorts of fragile homemade wines we celebrate now outside of the back yard of the farmer who grew them.
Here are three bottles that carry this past and reimagine it for the future, to sip on over time or age indefinitely—they’re practically immortal.
taste on your own time / buy class kit / multipack ep. 5-8
Palomino is a grape that was put to work. Most famous for the vintage-blended, fortified, often sweetened sherries of Jerez that fueled the British empire (cf. ep. 5), it also found itself in a lot of other places it’d been brought by ships and/or dictators.
And like a lot of workhorse varieties, what it can do has often been obscured beneath what it was made to do.
The landscape of modern wine, the regions and grape varieties we take for granted, was in a lot of ways invented by the mass extinction event of phylloxera at the end of the 19th century.
And phylloxera was just the latest and worst of a series of crises caused by faster transportation, international trade, and ecosystem collapse—which makes its lessons much more than just academic for today’s winegrowers.
Bordeaux is, without question, luxury wine’s greatest success story. It is the largest fine wine region the planet, and for the last couple of hundred years it’s had a stranglehold on the concept of ‘fine wine’ itself.
Its rise, first as a mercantile juggernaut and then as a winegrowing region in its own right, was built on the bones of places it got rich off of and then destroyed, from Buzet to Gaillac.
We’ll interrogate Bordeaux by heading upstream into the ‘hill country’ to go door to door and talk to the survivors of the Sud-Ouest.
live tasting 03.11.23 / buy class kit / multipack ep. 5-8
Stay tuned for upcoming in-person tastings and workshops, or reach out to chat about private events.
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