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James Suckling MasterClass Review on Wine Appreciation [2022]

There’s nothing like first being introduced to wine and thinking to yourself, ‘People enjoy this stuff? Why?’

Wine is such a varied beverage but all the varieties aren’t for everyone. (I know I’m never going to be a dry red person. It’s just not happening.)

You’ll learn a great bit about wine production, wine tasting, and how to find a wine you like in the James Suckling MasterClass.

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Who Is James Suckling

James Suckling is an American wine and cigar critic. He was the senior editor of Wine Spectator and is an incredibly influential wine critic. He knows his wines, no doubt about that. He also is the author of the book Vintage Port: The Spectator’s Ultimate Guide for Consumers, Collectors, and Investors.

What James Suckling’s MasterClass Covers

Suckling’s MasterClass covers how to taste wine correctly, store wine, and curate your own wine collection. You’ll learn about the types of tastings and how different factors will affect the outcome of wine and how it changes year to year based on the weather. Essentially, you’ll get a complete beginner’s look at wine tasting and wine appreciation.

Class Length

This MasterClass spans 11 lessons and runs for 2 hours and 22 minutes. This is a smaller to average-sized MasterClass and can easily be consumed in one afternoon if you’re the binge-watching type.

Lesson List

There are 11 lessons in this MasterClass, leaving it on the short end. Here’s what you can expect to find covered in each:

  • Introduction
  • Tasting Techniques: Conducting a Blind Tasting
  • Discerning Flavors and Aromas: Student Tasting Experience
  • Meet the Maker: An Introduction
  • Appreciation on Location, Part 1: A Vertical Tasting
  • Appreciation on Location, Part 2: Barrel Tasting
  • Primary Factors of Influence: In the Vineyard
  • Storing and Curating: A Home Cellar
  • Education and Etiquette: Reading a Wine List
  • Breaking the Rules of Pairings: A Tuscan Luncheon
  • Closing

Class Price

The MasterClass prices have remained relatively the same at $180 for a year’s worth of access. However, they have sneakily added in tiers to the membership, making the highest tier $276 for a family membership. They’re going in the way of Netflix to help cut back on account sharing which isn’t altogether surprising.

They’ve also introduced the MasterClass Sessions portion of the membership which is currently included at all tier levels. I’m curious, however, to see if this isn’t used in the future as a way to get people to pay a bit more for access to the exclusive Sessions portion of the site.

The current prices of membership at the time of writing are as follows:

  • Individual – $15/mo or $180
  • Duo – $20/mo or $240
  • Family – $23/mo or $276

Course Materials

This class comes with a 38-page guidebook. The guidebook is hands down the best part of this MasterClass. It is incredibly in-depth and covers information that isn’t covered in the video lessons.

What We Liked

This MasterClass, true to its topic, did cover wine. And what’s not to love about wine? I’m going to be honest, there’s not a ton I loved about this course. It’s probably one of my least favorite MasterClasses (and I’ve taken a lot). If you really love wine then you may as well go through the video lessons and look over the book. We treated it like a cozy date night in and binged the MasterClass as a couple.

What We Didn’t Like

This MasterClass would have done better with different structuring and a better instructor. Suckling is the human equivalent of a Merlot—dry. I couldn’t get into the information and the way the class started off was focused on actively doing tastings. It’s hard to get much out of it without tracking down (and purchasing) all the bottles covered due to the way they were teaching the tasting lessons. That isn’t fun for anyone and it’s another hit to my wallet. It would’ve been better if you could have done the tasting with any wine and Suckling walked you through identifying different flavors and how to properly taste wine.

How to Get the Most Out of This Class

You’ll really need all the wines they recommend for the class to get anything out of it. Reviewing some of the later video lessons and flip through the guidebook for the expedited version of the class.

Who Is This MasterClass Best For?

This MasterClass will be best-loved by complete beginners in the wine world. If you already know a lot about wine there won’t be much new covered in the course but it could still be a fun watch.

Who Is This MasterClass Not For?

This MasterClass is not for those who don’t want to track down wines for the tasting portion.

Similar MasterClasses You Might Like

If you enjoyed James Suckling’s MasterClass on Wine Appreciation then you’ll find there are a plethora of other food-related classes available. However, the only other drink specific on is the Mixology course with Lynnette Marrero and Ryan Chetiyawardana.

Besides the Mixology course, if you liked James Suckling’s MasterClass, you make like the following similar classes:

  • Michael W. Twitty – Tracing Your Roots Through Food
  • Roy Choi – Intuitive Cooking
  • Massimo Bottura – Modern Italian Cooking
  • Alice Waters – The Art of Home Cooking

Final Takeaway – 2.5/5

There is so much good wine content available online. This MasterClass, however, was not entirely satisfying. I found that the instructor was a bit dry and was immediately thrown by the beginning episodes of the class. It largely depends on you purchasing a bunch of wine to take the course. I also felt they left out a lot of basic wine knowledge that should’ve been covered. This MasterClass could’ve been improved with a better structure. With all that said, I still recommend downloading the guidebook and keeping it in your computer files. You never know when that information will be useful.

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