Sewing circles are so last-century and book clubs have come and gone. These days, why not get the girls together for some sniff and snifter? The Wine Sisters' fabulous home-study wine course poses the potential for educational recreation.

Here's how it works: Organize a group of people who want to learn more about wine. The more, the merrier – and cheaper – since the price for the course is split among the group. For a cost of $447, Wine Sisters provides you with their party package: 12 lessons, shopping lists, spiritual enrichment exercises and food-pairing ideas. For an additional $200, you can access their top-notch sommeliers for interrogation when the need arises.

The course works on the premise that learning about wine starts with tasting a lot of it. And that's exactly what the Wine Sisters course does: It gets you and your buddies exploring a variety of wines in an informed manner. The first two courses lay the foundation by focusing on the six major wine grapes: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. From there, the classes go deeper, and soon you not only know the virtues of tannins and the difference between grassy and buttery tastes, but also about aging in oak barrels versus stainless-steel vats. As an example, the first session encourages the examination of the difference between skim milk, whole milk and heavy cream to sensitize individuals to the difference in textures of particular wine types. By the time the lessons are completed, you will have a working knowledge of how to decipher a challenging wine list.

In addition to the schooling, Wine Sisters also gives suggestions for pairing cheeses, so, in a way, you buy a mini cheese class, as well. The spiritual enrichment section is designed to connect people with nature and each other by way of contemplating different aspects of wine. Sappy stuff, you say? This contemplation is what Kindra Spector believes sets her wine class apart from the others.

"Can men join in?" I ask.

"Sure," she says. "A lot of the husbands want to muscle into their spouses' sisterhood." She won't stop them, but it is geared toward women, so there are no apologies for the touchy-feely approach.

There are at least 20 Wine Sisters groups nationwide, and as the network grows, so do Spector's plans for the future.

"Once a wine sister, always a wine sister," she says, which is more than you can say for grandma's sewing circle.

Wine Sisters


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