Taking a class with Alie Shaper, the owner and winemaker at Brooklyn Oenology, offers a rare experience in the wine world. Not only is Shaper incredibly easy to talk to and an excellent teacher, but her classes are interesting and unusual.
“I want people to ask questions and learn,” Shaper said. “There’s no reason to feel intimidated.”
Shaper, who started out as a manufacturing engineer, applies the principles she learned in her previous work to her winemaking and business practices. Methodical, experimental and passionate, Shaper seems unafraid to try new things with her wines.
Instead of a lecture, our learning process was collaborative. Not only was our class small, but we sat around a table, all conversing together in a dialogue. Our class was on European varietals versus hybrids, and we got to taste the two side by side, comparing and taking notes.
Not only did we learn quite a bit about the history of hybrids and the reasons for their development (for one, the need to survive the harsher weather of the Americas), but we received handouts to do further reading after class.
From a lightly acidic, off-dry Traminette with notes of honey to a vanilla and tobacco-inflected Corot Noir, the hybrids we tasted were unfamiliar and exciting. Shaper was happy to answer questions and advise us on other wines to try.
Shaper buys her fruit on the North Fork and makes wine at Premium Wine Group in Mattituck, Long Island, but hopes to eventually open a small production facility in Brooklyn and increase her presence in the borough.
At 40 dollars for World of Wine classes and 6o for seminars, Brooklyn Oenology’s classes are extremely reasonably-priced, especially for the small class sizes. The space also often holds art shows. On Fridays, oysters are a buck from 6:00pm on.
This weekend, Brooklyn Oenology will feature their new whiskey tastings all day on Saturday and Sunday, and whiskeys will be discounted by ten percent. See their regular events here and their special Facebook events here.