James Suckling is a renowned wine critic who has sampled over 200,000 wines in his 40 years of experience. He is an absolute legend in the wine industry and certainly someone you can learn a thing or two from when it comes to wine, how to pair it, and how to simply enjoy it.
His course, offered on the education platform MasterClass, aims to shift one’s perception of wine and teach people how to appreciate it in all its ways and forms.
Let’s talk about James Suckling Masterclass Review and its worth.
In the following piece, we talk in detail about the course, the curriculum, the pros and cons, and whether you should take it or not. Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at James Suckling’s Masterclass.
Who is James Suckling
James Suckling is an American wine and cigar critic. He was a former editor, European Bureau Chief of Wine Spectator, and European Editor of Cigars. With 40 years of experience behind his back, James is internationally recognized as one of the best wine critics. Not just that, he’s also regarded as one of the most experienced critics of vintage cigars.
His areas of expertise are in Italian Wines and vodkas. His 100-point scale has become a common shorthand for talking about the quality of the wine.
Overview of the Class
Now that you know more about James Suckling let’s see what the course will offer you.
Don’t expect James’ class to be a boring technical one. Instead, this course will teach you how to appreciate the artistry of wine and will guide you on how to use James’ rating system. He also goes over the fundamentals of winemaking, from the vineyard to storing it in cellars.
This class has three sections that are divided into three subsections. The overall run time of the course content is 2 hours and 22 minutes. It has a total of 11 lessons; every lesson is divided into video lectures, which are approximately 10 to 15 minutes long. These are:
- 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
Pros and Cons
Let’s go over some advantages of James’ Masterclass.
- Learn From A True Expert
As mentioned earlier, James Suckling is a wine Legend. Who wouldn’t want to learn about wines from the most prominent wine expert?
- Well-demonstrated to make learning easier
Informative visual aids like diagrams, glossary terms, and charts are flashed on the screen to emphasize what James is teaching in a specific lesson.
- It comes with a PDF workbook
On top of the video lessons, you also get access to a 38-page PDF workbook. This extra resource contains tips and tricks James has been using throughout his career.
There are some downsides to this class, naturally. Those include:
- The price tag of the wines is on the larger scale
One downside that disappointed some students was the price range of Suckling’s wines. Though everyone is encouraged to join this course, the wine index might cause some to get discouraged, thinking they can’t afford the wines in Suckling’s index.
- Not suited for beginners
As mentioned earlier, everyone can join the course. However, if you’re still a beginner or are still developing an interest in wine appreciation, this course might not be for you.
The topics James talks about in this course are for intermediate and advanced wine lovers. He also uses jargon, which might confuse those unfamiliar with wine-specific terminologies.
- Foundations of wine-tasting are not focused much
James’ class won’t help you train your nose or help you identify notes and differentiate one from another. You’re going to have to learn how to do that yourself, with time and, of course, experience.
Who is This Class for
The course is well designed and planned for all interested in knowing more about wine and developing an appreciation for it. However, basic knowledge, such as fundamentals of wine tasting and wine terminologies, might be helpful to understand better and follow the class. The class is no less suitable for those who are already wine enthusiasts and want to elevate their expertise.
On the other hand, if you’re not a wine fanatic or don’t have an interest in this industry, the class might be too much for you.
How Much Does the Class Cost
MasterClass offers three subscription plans:
- Solo Plan
This plan costs $180 annually and allows one device to access the website. However, you cannot download the videos for offline viewing nor the PDF workbook as an additional resource to complement the lessons.
- Duo Plan
Subscribing to this plan entitles two devices to use the website simultaneously for only $20 per month, paid annually. With this plan, you can download the videos and the PDF workbook for future reference.
- Family Plan
If you’re thinking of sharing the subscription with your family and friends, this plan might be the best option for you. Six devices are eligible to access the site at once for only $23 per month, paid annually. On top of that, you can download the video lessons and workbook.
All the plans mentioned above give you an all-access pass. At the time of writing, MasterClass has over 150 courses taught by A-listers from different industries. There’s also a 30-day refund policy if you are unsatisfied with the platform and what it offers.
Here’s what people who took James Suckling’s course are saying online:
“Before I watched the master class I pretty much strictly drank Cabernet Sauvignon from the grocery store and thought if I bought a 20-30 dollar bottle it would be nice. Since the masterclass, I’m going to total wine and trying as many varieties as I can! Amazing the quality you can get for around 10-20 if you know what to look for.”
-Comment from Reddit
“Unfortunately, my wife and I were extremely unimpressed. This is by far the worst Masterclass I have watched, of about a dozen or so.
The videos were shot in Tuscany, where Suckling has a home. In the first video, does a blind tasting of several wines. Then he visits a few producers (this is the best part, in my opinion). He also has one video where he tastes with some young people who ask very introductory questions (are they students of his? Random people? We don’t know). Then he talks in another about how to approach a wine menu, and how to drink and order wine in a restaurant, explaining what a corkage fee is, and how one should have a budget and calculate the bottle costs accordingly (???). He explains in one video that one can start a collection, shows off a tiny random bit of his cellar (this could have been so interesting, yet isn’t), and explains helpfully that one can organize wines by region (really???). Lastly he has a meal with his family and friends and makes random comments about wine/food pairings, like “you can drink red wine with fish.”
-Comment from Reddit
When it comes to wines, James Suckling is the person to go to. Obviously, you can’t go directly to him, but you can watch his online class on wine appreciation, tasting, evaluation, and grouping.
Whether you’re a wine pro or you’ve just discovered your passion for wines, this Masterclass is anything but boring. Even if, for some reason, it’s challenging to follow and it’s no your cup of tea, you can always browse through the course gallery on Masterclass and pick something else. Happy learning.