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4 Things You Need to Prepare Before Your First Wine Class

As a new wine student, you may not know that there are things you need to prepare before you arrive at your first wine class.

For me, it probably wasn’t until my 3rd or 4th wine course where I finally figured out to get all of these 4 steps in place beforehand.

Trust me! The time you take for tips #3 and 4 will lay the groundwork for your wine career and reward you in dividends in the future.

And now, here are the 4 Things You Need to Prepare Before Your First Wine Class.


Buy at least 6 matching wine tasting glasses.

Buy at least 6 matching wine tasting glasses.


You only get a small amount of wine to try in any wine course. So you’ll want to make sure that you pick wine glasses that optimize the aromas and flavours from that itty-bitty amount of wine.

This is important because in wine exams, you get points for accurately describing the colour and colour intensity of the wine. Therefore, wine instructors ask that you purchase standardized ISO wine glasses before you get to your first wine class. This way everyone in the class will all be seeing the same colour and depth of colour of the wine. This in turn leads to accurate calls and higher marks on your exams. recommends these glasses to have an overall height of 6.1” (15.5 cm) and diameter of 2.56” (6.5 cm) while holding a total volume of 7.25 oz (21.5 cl).

Below are links to glasses that fit this mold and have nice thin rims for ultimate sipping pleasure.

For 6 ISO Wine Tasting Glasses

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$49 USD click here

$76 CAD click here

£53 GB click here

or save money with these slightly thicker rimmed/ more durable sets

£23 GB click here

*I may get a small kickback for purchases made through these links

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Heck, buy at least 12 glasses because you will, unfortunately break one!

Let’s be real. You WILL break at least one of those wine glasses before your exam. It happens to all of us.
So, since you need 6 identical wine glasses for any lesson, you might as well buy a pack of 12 to start.
Personally, I use the restaurant port series from Riedel.
A while ago, I invested in a 12-pack of Riedel port glasses. My classmates were so envious of my much nicer glassware. (They all had the cheaper Viticole or Arcoroc versions with thicker rims)
But unfortunately it seems the port glasses are out of stock even on the Reidel website due to supply chain issues. (For your reference, the restaurant port glass line cost me about $89 CAD for 12).
But if you are in the US, I did find these lovely Ravenscroft thin, crystal beauties for $45 USD for 12!!

I also found these gorgeous crystal Dartington glasses for only £23 for 6.

In short, if you buy 12 glasses when you begin your wine journey, you will have spares to cover breakage.

For 12 ISO Wine Tasting Glasses

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$45 USD click here

£46 GB click here just buy 2- packs

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You need at least 6 ISO wine glasses. However, I recommend you upgrade to a 12-pak. Then you'll have spares for when one of them breaks.

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Figure out your system for keeping your tasting notes organized before you get to your first wine class.

The most obvious way to keep your tasting notes organized is just to write them down in your your course workbook or on lined notepaper.
But here’s the thing, this only works if you only plan on taking 1-2 wine classes in your lifetime.
I’m just going to put it out there and predict that you will catch the wine bug and take more classes as the years go by.
That’s why you need to figure out a really good system for keeping your wine tasting notes; I’m suggesting a digital solution.
I can’t tell you how many notebooks, pieces of paper, hole-punch paper in binders, and wine catalogues I have to carry with me to keep all of my notes from over the years.
There’s the notebook I filled in Argentina. The 2 notebooks on my 2nd trip to Italy. The list goes on and on.
Moreover with paper, there’s no way you can conduct a quick ‘search’ for the specific wine you are looking for. Instead, you’ll need to flip through many paper sources.
You will need to refer to your notes in the future, believe me.

Still, I have to be honest with you… I don’t have a perfect solution for you!

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Systems that are not perfect but way better than paper...


I started to type my tasting notes in a Pages document in my Mac laptop. This was an improvement because I could carry all of my tasting notes with me everywhere and it has a search option… but you can only search through one document at a time.
So, it’s not optimal.
Originally, I labelled the files under the year in which I tasted the wines. At first this was great, because there were only a few documents I needed to search. Thus as the years go by, this is more difficult.
For example, filing under the year does not jog my memory to locate tasting notes from particular wine trips.
Consequently, I started naming the files with the year and the regions I visited.
It’s complicated.
I thought about using Cellar Tracker as it keeps your notes of everything you have in your cellar and keeps your tasting notes. But, Cellar Tracker wasn’t designed for wine students in particular.
So, if you have any better electronic suggestions, I’d love to hear them in the comments. And muchos gracias in advance from the SommWine community for helping us out!

How do you keep your
wine tasting notes for studying?

Please share in the comments!

Other Posts from SommWine…

[The 4 Best Free Wine Apps for Tasting Notes]

[Having a party? Host in style with this guide to sparkling wine glasses]

[Planning to take a wine course? Read Our One Stop Guide to Wine Courses]


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Don't use paper to keep your wine tasting notes organized; find a digital solution instead.

Come prepared with at least one piece of paper and pen to start a wine tasting group for your first wine class


You and your classmates will be overwhelmed with the amount of knowledge you will receive in a wine class. At some point, you will have a blind tasting wine exam. Be prepared.

Start a wine tasting group! Your classmates will LOVE you for initiating this process!

Add columns for name, email address, and phone number to start the process. See if you or someone else has a quiet place where you can host small groups to practice in between classes.

Or, start a facebook group where you can communicate meetups with everyone.

Small group wine tastings give you time to cement your knowledge without the stress of being under the watchful eye of your instructor. You’ll also form bonds for life with the people in your tasting group.

Because really, blind tasting is like having a piece of humble pie served to you after every wine. It’s good for your confidence to see everyone is in the same boat together. Mostly, it’s amazing to get feedback and support from your peers as you all improve together.

SommWine Tip

  • Is there a local wine shop that features geeky wines and has knowledgable staff in your area??
  • Tell them that you are in a blind wine tasting group and see if the staff can choose the wines for you. You will need to provide them with a list of all of the appellations/ regions and wines your course will cover.
  • I’ve been really fortunate to find great staff who will even bag the wines, open them, swap out the corks (so you don’t see who it is) and number them!


Trying to pass wine exams is stressful. However, by following these 4 Things You Need To Prepare Before Your Wine Class will help soothe your nerves.

I’m sure your instructor or school will provide a way for you to purchase wine glasses before you get to class. However, they may not tell you that you will likely break at least one of them (if not more) throughout your time as a wine student. Furthermore, wine schools will always purchase the cheapest (albeit most durable) glassware with the thick rims.

That’s why I recommend you buy 12 premium crystal glassware which fit the ISO standards for your class. These will last you until the end of your studies. Thin rimmed glasses will cater to the soon-to-be-wine-snob we’ll make out of you yet!

Furthermore, tips 3 + 4 is honestly some great advice.

Talk to as many people as possible to find a digital solution for saving your wine tasting notes. You may not need this for your Level 1 wine course. But if you plan on continuing with wine studies, it’s best to nail down one ultimate digital place for all of your wine tasting notes. You’re future self will thank you. (Perhaps you can even turn it into a book?!)

Finally, nothing will give you the confidence to walk into your wine exam more than tip number 4. Start a wine tasting group on day 1 of your class. Then, practice blind wine tasting with your friends every week. Having that extra preparation to review wine theory through the glass in small group format is second to none.

What advice can you share for
what to bring to your first wine class?

What digital solution do you have for keeping your wine tasting notes?

Share in the comments below!

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SommWine | 4 Things You Need to Prepare Before Your First Wine Class

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