Wine knowledge tends to be a surprising area of stress for people. No one wants to be handed a leather-bound list in a fancy restaurant with no idea how to navigate it, or to be stuck aimlessly wandering the aisles of the local wine shop. Luckily, New York is one of the world's centers of wine appreciation. The classes listed here will help you get a jump-start on your knowledge of the grape. (Although the famed Windows on the World Wine School already has started its fall curriculum, you can check kevinzraly.com for future classes.) On your marks: swirl, smell, sip, quaff!
1. INTERNATIONAL WINE CENTER: The center, founded in 1982, offers a Foundation course (that means beginners) developed by England's prestigious Wine and Spirits Education Trust. It meets three weeks in a row after work (and very near Penn Station), meaning you get a lot of information quickly. For $330, you can go from 0 to 60, and there's even an exam at the end to give you a shot at an A+.
INFO: 350 Seventh Ave.; 212-239-3055, internationalwinecenter.com
2. ASTOR CENTER: A few years ago, the East Village shop Astor Wine & Spirits reinvented itself as a thoughtful study center for all types of imbibing (there's still a great store downstairs). It offers a huge menu of options in a beautifully designed space. Spend a Saturday learning the basics of Cognac ($99), or take a one-class intro to vino after work one day ($79). There are many food-and-wine pairing classes, too.
INFO: 399 Lafayette St.; 212-674-7501, astorcenternyc.com
3. CORKBUZZ WINE STUDIO: One of the city's best wine bars, conveniently located near Union Square, Corkbuzz is also one of the most prolific hosts for wine classes. Wine 101 ($75) makes a lot of sense, or try All About Orange Wines ($55), introducing you to what contact with grape skins can do to color. Best of all, you can eat some excellent restaurant food at the bar after school is out.
INFO: 13 E. 13th St.; 646-873-6071, corkbuzz.com
4. INSTITUTE OF CULINARY EDUCATION: For $495, the instructors at ICE in Chelsea will take you through a six-week course they call Wine Essentials, which uses grape varietals as well the wine-making regions to explore the full wine spectrum. It also covers how to taste wine and something too often ignored: How to read a label. Or drop in for date night, since there's a $90 one-time class called Wine for Couples.
INFO: 50 W. 23rd St.; 800-522-4610, ice.edu