You can enter as a wine-baffled neophyte and emerge an expert.

By Ray Isle
Updated May 23, 2017
© Saez Victor

There are plenty of wine courses in the world, but very few will take you and immerse you in wine knowledge so effectively for five days that you can enter as a wine-baffled neophyte and emerge as a (legitimate) wine expert. That’s the idea behind Extreme Wine.

The course takes place several times a year at Domaine de la Verrière, a restored medieval priory in Provence’s Vaucluse region, located amid olive groves, lavender fields, woodlands and vineyards. Students in the course stay in Verrière’s elegant suites, but most of their time is spent—appropriately—with wine. The course is headed up by Clive Barlow, MW, former education chairman of the Masters of Wine, and Nick Dumergue, a widely traveled wine judge and educator. Lessons involve visits to nearby vineyards, training activities in Verrière’s on-site winery (which also produce the property’s highly regarded Chene Bleu wines), and, most important, extensive tutored tastings of some of the world’s iconic wines. Typically course participants taste more than a hundred wines; in the past, that lineup has included names like Château Pichon Lalande, Chateau d’Yquem, Conterno, Fontodi and Dom Perignon, among many others.

Is the course intense? Yes. There’s a lot of one-on-one instruction, plenty of wine tasting, and a wealth of information to consume (though it’s designed so that anyone from wine newbies to longtime wine collectors can benefit from it). Is it expensive? Definitely—about $8,300, all-inclusive. But people who take the course emerge with WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) diplomas, taste an absurd number of great wines and perhaps most important get to spend five heady days learning, eating, drinking and socializing with equally devoted wine lovers from around the world.

F&W's new series reveals the best ways to maximize your food year through travel, wine, cooking, tech, style, events and experiences. Use #BESTFOODYEAR on Twitter and Instagram to tell us about the ones you want to try. We'll continue to share more tips with the hashtag throughout the year and want to hear about how you celebrate food every day, too.