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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 had the experience to get all of these 4 steps in place beforehand. 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.

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

#1 how to find the right wine course for you

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 the wine glasses you use will 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).

I’ve given you links to glasses like that in the links below.


For 6 ISO Wine Tasting Glasses

Cost icon


$49 USD click here

$39 CAD click here

£44 GB click here

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

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Heck, buy at least 12 glasses so you can upgrade to the much nicer, thinner crystal versions.

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 your exam, you might as well buy a pack of 12 to start.
And here’s the bonus with purchasing 12… you can now upgrade and buy the sleeker, thinner crystal wine glasses. Personally, I use the restaurant port series from Riedel.
A while ago, I invested in this 12-pack of Riedel port glasses. My classmates were so envious of my much nicer glassware.
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 $70 CAD for 12).
But if you are in the US, I did find these lovely Ravenscroft thin, crystal beauties for $39 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. You will also gain the admiration of your classmates!

For 12 ISO Wine Tasting Glasses

Cost icon


$39 USD click here

£46 GB click here just buy 2- packs

You need at least 6 ISO wine glasses. However, I recommend you upgrade to the slick thin crystal glasses which come in 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!

4 things you Need to Prepare for your First Wine Class

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 a 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.
For those of you not familiar with Cellar Tracker, you can read my review of it (along with 3 other wine tasting apps) here. 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!

find a digital way to keep your wine tasting notes for your first wine class
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 to the paper columns for name, email address, phone number and availability (mornings, afternoons, evenings, days off) to start the process. See if you or someone else has a quiet place where you can host small wine tasting groups to practice in between classes.

Take a photo and share the information with a person whose availability is different than yours so they can start another group. 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.


Trying to pass wine exams is stressful. These 4 Things You Need To Prepare Before Your Wine Class will help soothe your nerves.

I’m sure your instructor 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.

That’s why I recommend you buy 12 premium crystal glassware which fit the ISO standards for your class beforehand. These will last you until the end of your studies. Those thinner rims of the premium glasses will cater to the soon-to-be-born 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 the most difficult part of your wine knowledge in small group format is second to none.

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

Share in the comments below!

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