What does the Washington Wine Academy offer?
We specialize in higher education of wine and certification. We offer classes in making wine and grape growing. We also have a lot of entry-level classes where we teach people how to taste. Right now we're trying to work a lot with Virginia wineries because they are making leaps and bounds with quality and quantity.
How should wine newbies get started?
The best way is to go to a wine bar. D.C. has a lot where you can order wines by the half-glass for tasting. You should write down what you like and don't like of each wine you taste. The fundamental is to have a basic grip on what you like.
What do you recommend for holiday meal wine pairings?
I definitely think sauvignon blanc to start because it's crisp and dry. If you're looking for a heavier white wine, then you should get a chardonnay that is unoaked. For red wine, people always like pinot noir -- it's the red wine for white wine drinkers. It's also not too heavy for chicken or turkey. If you're making a steak or roast with more body, merlot can be good with that. Port is delicious this time a year with cheese or a chocolate dessert.
Why do you think wine appreciation is valuable for drinkers?
I think learning about what you drink makes your everyday experience better -- whether it's drinking with friends or having a glass with your meal. You are much more aware of your personal taste preferences when you know what you're drinking.
What's your favorite wine?
Right now I think sparkling wine is fun and festive. You also can't go wrong with the Oregon pinots.