Wine lovers rejoice! Stop and smell the rosé because there's a chance to turn your amateur passion for wine into a profession for a night – without flying to Wine Country. The WineO Club is an informal and interactive way to learn more about wine through group tastings right in New York City. Established in 2016, the boutique family-owned experience provides guests with a selection of wines ranging from everyday choices to premium blends – all hand-sourced for the guests to enjoy.
Classes are led by the WineO Club's owner, founder, and president, Mark Fang. Fang quit his day job to pursue his passion for wine by becoming a sommelier. His unique backstory lends a hand in making the two-hour class a one-of-a-kind experience. “I’ve experienced a lot of wine tastings and this was by far the most unique. The owner was informative but didn’t take himself too seriously. The pours were heavy, and he had us laughing the whole time,” says Melissa Speranza, 32.
Each class consists of four different wine tastings, cheese pairings, games, prizes, and more. I attended the Basics 101 class for an Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation event, a charity that funds research, raises awareness and supports families to help cure pediatric cancer. We were divided amongst six different tables for the class. This allowed Fang to personalize the experience at each table and encouraged competition when the games began.
Fang segmented out the class so that each tasting included part education and part game. For example, after drinking our Sauvignon Blanc and learning that “85% of your taste comes from your smell,” Fang passed around capsules with liquid in them. Together the tables had to guess the correct wine-related scent in each capsule. Answers included strawberry, prune, and fig. The table that made the most correct guesses wins the round.
Fang also taught classic sommelier skills, such as how to guess the age of the wine, how to guess the alcohol percentage by looking at the glass, and how to guess which type of grape was used to make the wine. These lessons were put to the test during our final tasting, which was a mystery blend for a blind taste test. Together, the table had to properly identify the wine and suggest a food pairing to go along with it.
To ensure we didn’t forget any of the information, Fang provided everyone with take-home materials. They included information on wine and food pairings for sweet and spicy or when cooking per region. There was also an infographic explaining the reasoning behind wine and cheese pairings. For example, Prosecco pairs well with Brie cheese because fat and salty cheeses are cut by bubbles from the wine, thus scrubbing your palate clean for more cheese.
Overall, the event was a huge success and helped to raise one-thousand dollars for children! Classes can be a great team-building event for a corporate outing too. The cost per ticket is $75.00, but I suggest checking Groupon before buying directly from the website. You can also try contacting them directly for group rates!