In the absence of educational classes, seminars or public tastings, the world of wine has gone entirely online to stay connected and continue learning. Looking to remain active despite physical-distancing restrictions, wineries and commentators have embraced social media with mixed results.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of online resources are automated. Most winemakers are obviously more comfortable making wine than in front of an iPhone talking about their work. Many social-media broadcasts risk being overly promotional without much substance to engage the intended audience. Selling wine doesn’t require the same enthusiasm as pitching The ShamWow or Ginsu knives.
The best spontaneous live videos have charm and can offer a behind-the-scenes look at a favourite vineyard or winery. Unscripted children and winery dogs can inject humour into the proceedings. But there’s also a risk of losing credibility due to less-than-polished presentation or a hard-sell approach. A quick scan of the growing number of live Instagram Story broadcasts happening throughout the day reveals who does or doesn’t have a strategy to share their story.
For anyone with free time during the coronavirus lockdown seriously looking to broaden their wine knowledge, there’s a growing number of thoughtful webinars and virtual learning opportunities that have been quickly pulled together to join some long-standing options. Here are the ones I’m keeping tabs on.
67 Pall Mall is a private members’ club for wine lovers located in the heart of London, sitting opposite the world’s oldest drinks merchant, Berry Bros. & Rudd. Since the lockdown, it has been offering #67FromHome, free daily masterclasses through Zoom hosted by experts including Tim Atkin, Jane Anson and Matthew Jukes. Sessions, which cover the classic and new world regions, are archived on 67 Pall Mall’s Facebook page. 67pallmall.com
GuildSomm is an international non-profit organization for sommeliers and wine professionals that promotes education and collaboration. Students pursuing their Master Sommelier, Master of Wine and other higher-level wine-and-spirits certifications have long relied on its informative articles, videos and podcasts. During the coronavirus outbreak, the organization has launched a free webinar series to support its community, with new content being added frequently. This content is directed at the wine trade, but enthusiasts will enjoy reading and studying the same materials. A yearly paid membership grants access to added content and resources. guildsomm.com
Based in London, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) offers comprehensive education about wines, spirits and sake, ranging from introductory courses to professional certifications offered by affiliated schools around the world. Offering a taste of the paid course materials, the online knowledge centre hosts educational videos, a hear-and-see pronunciation tool and a weekly blog that covers tasting tips and other practical study skills. WSET has recently launched its Top of the Class Challenge quiz that sees a weekly e-mail sent to participants testing wine, spirits and sake knowledge. It’s a fun and engaging format that covers the basics and more in-depth knowledge. wsetglobal.com
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