That’s the Culinary Institute of America, by the way, (not the Central Intelligence Agency). Thanks to a tip from Amy over at Cooking With Amy, I learned this morning that the CIA is offering a free online wine course, presumably as a hook to get people into their overall online offering.
Not wanting to subject my readers to anything untested and potentially schmaltzy, I took it myself this morning so I could bring you a full review. In all, it’s a reasonably good course for wine novices who are looking to learn a bit more about wine. I think if you actually purchased the wines and other materials that they recommend during the course and tasted them as instructed, you could learn a lot. Of course, the wines they recommend will end up costing you about $150 if you buy every one, which may be prohibitive for some folks.
The course provides an introduction to three varietals: Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. They do a pretty good job of covering these varietals at an introductory level, although occasionally they mention wine industry concepts or jargon that have not been explained fully.
I’d say the strongest part of the course, not surprisingly given the venue, is the depth to which they go in the area of wine and food pairing. They cover the general strategies with each of these varietals and then have various chefs and wine educators talk about specific pairings. I definitely learned a few things from this section.
The overall signup process for the course is a little confusing and non-intuitive, but overall, as a free resource, it ain’t bad.