is the best way I can describe the transition from fine-dining restaurants to teaching classes. Two years ago I began my foray into education, at a boutique retail/education business in the heart of NYC. At New York Vintners, I joined a team of sommeliers, writers and educators in teaching a broad portfolio of classes open to the general public. These classes were intensive, and often raucous 90-min affairs on topics ranging from “Blind Taste Challenge”, “Bold, Bad-ass Reds” to “Spain Explained”, and so on.
One evening after class, the owner Shane Benson and I got to talking about the educational program and the many possibilities available to us. We shared a common belief that even the finest or most obscure wines of the world are made for, and therefore should be, accessible to everyone. For us the real education was found in a casual, fun and deeply informative atmosphere, where the education was found in the glass.
With this in mind, I developed my own program within the business, dubbed the Masterclass Series. The curriculum was essentially a series of deep-dive classes on Barolo, Tuscany, Champagne, Napa, Loire and Rhone, as well as sensory-workshops on Aroma and Taste. Although these are popular regions and producers, and therefore widely taught, my aim was to distill this heft of knowledge involved into a fun, unpretentious and easily-digestible experience.
Using maps, photos, detailed and informative facts, music and lots of good food, I created a space where the classroom seemed to fall away and sounds of the dinner table began to emerge. This is where wine is truly meant to be enjoyed, in the relaxing presence of like-minded people at a large table, having an open-conversation and trying to make a connection.
When the storefront and subterranean classrooms on Warren Street closed to relocate, I continued my series of classes and tastings in the private dining room of Terroir in TriBeCa, led by the imminent American historian and Riesling philanthropist Paul Greico. Terroir has an incredibly diverse beverage program and is a bastion for local sommeliers of every level looking to taste from the pool of 40+ WBTG. Teaching one to two times a week at Terroir was a deeply rewarding experience and ultimately helped to shape the next steps in my career.