The Everyday Guide to Wines of California

Course No. 9162
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, Master of Wine and Certified Specialist of Spirits
Institute of Masters of Wine
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Course No. 9162
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Course Overview

In 1976, a single event rocked the wine world. In the famed Judgment of Paris Tasting, top French wine experts chose two unknown wines over the best that France—long considered the epitome of great winemaking—had to offer. The source of those remarkable wines? California.

Since then, California has become one of the most exciting and important wine-growing regions in the world; home to reds, whites, and sparkling wines that are on par with some of the most iconic wines from older wine regions, including Italy and France. Consider that

  • if California were considered a nation, it would be the fourth-largest wine-producing nation in the world;
  • unlike winemakers in more traditional European wine regions, those in California are free to experiment with new grape blends and wine-making technologies;
  • wine is grown in more than 80% of California counties; together, they make more than 600 million gallons of wine (about 250 million cases) per year.

More than 21 million people visit California wine country every year to sample wines that are unlike those found anywhere else in the world. And now you can get a well-rounded experience of California’s great wines—without having to leave your home! In the six lectures of The Everyday Guide to Wines of California, you’ll join acclaimed Master of Wine Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan on an engaging and interactive tour of the unique flavors California has to offer. By surveying both perennial top-sellers and experimental underdogs, you’ll discover why California is one of the world’s greatest wine producers. Filled with interactive tastings, suggestions for food pairings, shopping tips, and more, you’ll learn how to enjoy all of California’s offerings (whether you’re a novice to the world of wine or a seasoned connoisseur)—one delicious glass at a time.

Explore California’s Great Wine Regions

Throughout The Everyday Guide to Wines of California, you’ll survey some of California’s best wine-producing regions, each of which puts its own unique stamp on wine. You’ll learn that the diversity of the California landscape is more than capable of giving birth to wines of astounding and award-winning quality.

  • Napa Valley: The most iconic wine region in the United States, Napa Valley is located between the Vaca and Mayacamas mountain ranges, which prevents cool ocean breezes and wet weather from sweeping through the area. The result is air that stays warm and causes grapes to be riper and richer.
  • Sonoma: Sonoma has wines rivaling those in the more famous Napa Valley (actually outproducing that region).
  • Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara’s two mountain ranges, which run west to east, pull in cool air from the Pacific Ocean, making it a perfect environment for Pinot Noirs.

Taste Great Wines alongside a Master of Wine

Central to The Everyday Guide to Wines of California are the wines themselves—some of which are the most popular in the world and most of which are easy to find in your nearest wine shop. You’ll be able to sample right alongside Ms. Simonetti-Bryan as she introduces (or reintroduces) you to the pleasures and intricate details of wines. She will give you insights that will change the way you think about sipping wine, shopping for it, serving it, giving it as a gift, making it a part of your meals, and more. Her mastery of the subject makes The Everyday Guide to Wines of California an authoritative introduction—one enhanced by visits to California wineries, interactive tastings, tips on food pairings, and green screen technology that transports Ms. Simonetti-Bryan (and you) to the regions being explored. Completing this course is a wholly unique way to elevate the quality of every sip you take of California’s finest wines.

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6 lectures
 |  Average 32 minutes each
  • 1
    California’s Superstar Status
    What makes California unique among other wine-making regions of the world? How does a French Chardonnay compare with its California counterpart? What’s the best way to read a California wine label? What are some general guidelines for opening a wine bottle and tasting in a winery? Find out the answers to these and other questions in this lecture that prepares you for the rest of your journey through the world of California wines. x
  • 2
    Noble Whites—Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay
    This lecture focuses on two white grape varieties—Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay—that are extremely popular and easy to find. Alongside Ms. Simonetti-Bryan, sample some of California’s best, including a Fumé Blanc by Robert Mondavi and Chardonnays from Sonoma and Napa. Also, get tips on some delicious food-pairing suggestions, the best temperature at which to chill and serve these wines, dining suggestions for whenever you make a trip to the Napa Valley, and more. x
  • 3
    Rising Stars—Fragrant Whites and Organic Wines
    Explore some of California’s most fragrant and exciting new white wine varieties, which yield a variety of aromas and tastes reminiscent of flowers and fruits: a Pinot Gris, a Viognier, and an unoaked Sauvignon Blanc. Then, go beyond tradition (and into somewhat controversial territory) and see how California growers are experimenting with organic wine—wine made from organically farmed grapes without industrial chemicals and without the addition of sulfur during the wine-making process. x
  • 4
    Elegance in a Glass—Sparklers and Pinot Noir
    Turn now to California’s sparkling wines and one of its most popular reds: Pinot Noir. These wines not only showcase a more elegant side to California, they’re also some of the most versatile food-pairing wines that the state has to offer. Compare and contrast how bubbly wines taste when made using traditional and Charmat methods. Then, explore the tastes, aromas, and finishes of a variety of Pinot Noirs from around California. x
  • 5
    Big, Bold Reds—Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
    Learn everything you need to know about Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which make up approximately 42% of the red grape variety plantings in California. How does a Cabernet Sauvignon stand up to a Bordeaux? What should you look for in a Cab/Merlot blend? How does California’s terroir affect its Cabs and Merlots? How do you age a Cabernet, and what does the aging process do to the wine’s taste? x
  • 6
    California’s Secret Red Gems
    Conclude your tour of California wines with a look at some of its most interesting reds: a red Zinfandel, a Syrah, a Rhone Valley Syrah, a Petite Sirah, and a Grenache. Also, learn more about the recent trend in California winemaking for creating unique red blends from different grape varieties (you’ll also get suggestions for making your own personal blends). These particular wines, you’ll soon discover, truly deserve to be considered California’s secret red gems. x

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Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Download 6 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the reference guide
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Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 6 lectures on 1 DVD
  • Reference guide & wine list
  • Downloadable PDF of the reference guide
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

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Course Guidebook Details:
  • Reference guide & wine list

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Your professor

Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan

About Your Professor

Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, Master of Wine and Certified Specialist of Spirits
Institute of Masters of Wine
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan is among a small number of people to have received the highest credentials in the wine and spirits industry. She is one of only a few hundred people in the world to have achieved the Master of Wine (M.W.) title from The Institute of Masters of Wine in London, England-the highest and most difficult title to achieve in the industry. She also has a Professional Certificate in Spirits from the Wine &...
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Reviews

The Everyday Guide to Wines of California is rated 4.1 out of 5 by 20.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I turned red when I drink alcohol including wine. Although I have such drawback, I would very much like to learn about different kinds of wine. This course met my expectation plus. Worth the money!
Date published: 2020-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and FUN I bought this course for my husband who loves wine, and learning more about it. I gave the course a preview and decided it would work well. We are anxious for the 'shelter in place' to be over so we can invite friends over for wine tasting while viewing the course together. Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan is great and you can witness her passion in everything she does and says. Makes the class that much better!
Date published: 2020-04-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Good, but...... Good material and information. However, the presenter speaks so rapidly that she is uncomfortable to listen to and is at times difficult to understand. A marked contrast to the better paced and easily understood speech of the lecturers in the other 15 or so Great Courses that I have watched. It is especially bothersome to me when she rushes through the name of a wine. These names are often not in English and are difficult to pronounce. Only once, in the first 5 lectures I have watched, did she speak a name slowly enough for me to learn the proper pronunciation. If I had watched a sample lecture, I probably would not have bought this course.
Date published: 2020-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Recaps For Us Who Are Wine Hobbiests! Jennifer brings her knowledge and love for wine to the forefront in these episodes. She shares her ideas and opinions as an expert but at a level easily followed. These same comments are true for the other wine regions she covers in other series for Great Courses. Well done!
Date published: 2020-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative Excellent, I am looking forward to Jennifers other wine guides in this series
Date published: 2019-12-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from HUGE disappointment This is the first course that I have watched (started) done by this instructor. I gave up after the first episode. I know there are limitations on lecturing about wine without actually being able to taste the wines. (Yes, I know that I could have purchased the wines that she was talking about but that's not very practical.) I just don't find it very enlightening to watch someone else spend so much time gushing over a wine that I cannot taste. More time could have been spent discussing other aspects of the wines, such as the growing areas, their climates and other growing conditions, and the varieties that are grown in them. Maybe the history of California wines, etc. All told, a wasted half hour.
Date published: 2019-08-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Mindless background music I have tried to listen to this and the review of Italian wines. And I have given up. In both of them there is mindless elevator music playing in the background while she is speaking. Quite unnecessary and really annoying.
Date published: 2019-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy to follow along Easy to follow along. She uses 6 wines per class, if you cant afford to go out and buy all 6, start with 2 at a time. Ex: French chardonnay vs. American Chardonnay. Then another time try Oaked vs Unoaked, etc..... The course is easy and fun to follow along, with lots of good tips included!
Date published: 2017-07-02
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