Taking a Wine Class in the Bay Area and Napa Valley

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Taking a wine class in the Bay Area and Napa Valley

With 340 wineries in the nine Bay Area counties producing more individual varietals than any other winemaking region in the world, area residents are practically steeped in wine. It seems that even the most modest corner market sells award-winning vintages, and it's not uncommon to find a neighborhood cafe with a wine list three pages long.

Amid such a rich but confusing array, a little guidance from local experts can help you become proficient at tasting, identifying, and buying wine. In the various wine appreciation courses offered around the Bay Area, instructors don't cover every California winery, but they will familiarize you with some specific types of wine.

Our listing includes courses in wine appreciation for all levels, from beginners who just want to know basic tasting techniques to serious collectors. Class length ranges from 1 1/2 hours to three days; class size varies from about 15 to 50. Call for details on dates and locations.

In Berkeley, four-night seminars on pairing wines and food

Denis Kelly helps you evaluate several wines alone, then taste them with a three-course meal to see how their flavors change. Seminars meet one night a week for four weeks, beginning in late November. Cost is $120 per person; call (415) 658-8615 to register.

In Napa, learning to identify varietals by their aromas before you dine

At The Wine Lab, Lisa Van de Water's Techniques of Wine Evaluation help you learn the aromas of varietals and the chemical and fermenting processes that cause them. Class includes a four-course lunch pairing wine and food. This month's class meets October 11 in Napa. Cost is $85; to register, call (707) 224-7903.

In St. Helena, two-day wine workshops and three-day appreciation seminars

At Meadowood's Wine School, John Thoreen takes you through the paces with his Saturday Wine Workouts. You begin with a morning warmup on the techniques of tasting, comparing eight wines. The afternoon session combines a four-course lunch with four wines, teaching the elements of wine and food pairing. …