James Suckling MasterClass Review:Is it Valuable to Wine Enthusiasts?

Last updated on: June 30, 2023, Written by:

Bill Tremlon

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Teaching the art of wine appreciation or wine tasting can be challenging to accomplish using only video lessons and text. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop James Suckling, a renowned wine critic, from nailing his MasterClass on wine appreciation.

This short online course teaches wine appreciation by letting you in on the characteristics of different wines, the wine-making process, various wine-tasting techniques, secrets on how to choose a good wine, and more. The goal is to get you to enjoy wine.

So, does the Suckling MasterClass deliver on its promises? This James Suckling MasterClass review is here to answer.

James Suckling MasterClass Overview

James Suckling’s MasterClass introduces the basics of wine tasting and explores all the nuances. He provides novice and experienced wine enthusiasts with an opportunity to learn the methods of one of the most influential wine critics. This wine education fosters a deeper understanding of wine culture, enabling you to select the right wine for any occasion.

James Suckling MasterClass Review

James Suckling MasterClass Review Summary

⭐ Rating:9.6 ★★★★★
🥇 Category of class:Food
📈 Suits best for:Wine lovers
🕒 Lenght:2 hours and 22 minutes
⏳ Avg. Lesson Duration13 minutes
🛍️ Course Essentials:Corkscrew, wine glasses, a distraction-free environment, pen and notebook, access to a good wine shop, and a friend to taste wine with
💼 Complementary material:Downloadable 38-page PDF class guide
📚 No. of Lessons:11 lessons
🛒 Payment options:Individual / Duo / Family
💵 Price:10 – 20 $ (billed annually)
🔄 Refund policy:30-day satisfaction guarantee
🎁 Free trial:

2.Tasting Techniques: Conducting a Blind Tasting;
3.Discerning Flavors and Aromas: Student Tasting Experience;
4.Meet the Maker: An Introduction;
5.Appreciation on Location, Part 1: A Vertical Tasting;
6.Appreciation on Location, Part 2: Barrel Tasting;
7.Primary Factors of Influence: In the Vineyard;
8.Storing and Curating: A Home Cellar;
9.Education and Etiquette: Reading a Wine List;
10.Breaking the Rules of Pairings: A Tuscan Luncheon;

Key Skills You’ll Learn

  • Wine appreciation;
  • Various techniques for tasting wine;
  • How to do your own blind tasting;
  • Characteristics of wines;
  • Understanding of the grape varieties in wine;
  • Food and wine pairing;
  • Reading wine lists;
  • Wine storage in home cellar.

Who is James Suckling MasterClass for

James Suckling’s course is for those who enjoy wine and would like to know more about the intricacies of wine tasting from a renowned wine critic without having to join a wine-tasting club.

Our Evaluation

Total score: 9.2

James Suckling as an Instructor
Uniqueness and Freshness
Structure and Quality
Student Engagement and Retention
Value for the Money


  • Learn from a famous wine critic
  • Well-crafted visual demonstrations
  • Comprehensive PDF workbook


  • Could be more comprehensive

James Suckling MasterClass Instructor Review

About James Suckling

James Suckling, a renowned wine critic, boasts a remarkable career spanning over four decades. With a staggering repertoire of over 200,000 wine tastings under his belt, James has honed his palate to an extraordinary level. He has an almost sixth sense for discerning flavors that determine the quality of a wine.

His unparalleled expertise and discerning palate have made him a trusted authority for millions of wine enthusiasts seeking unbiased professional reviews. With a devoted following of over 5 million on his website alone, James Suckling is an influential figure in the wine industry, with even Forbes giving him his flowers by calling him “one of the world’s most powerful wine critics.”

James Suckling as an Instructor

For someone with no prior experience as an online course instructor, James Suckling is eerily good at it. I think that has a lot to do with his immense experience as a public speaker. He spoke in numerous wine appreciation events, including the 2015 red burgundywine tours.

The biggest record was when he spoke to over 100 million wine enthusiasts in China. He was a featured wine expert for Wine Day in China two times – in 2015 and 2016.

His expertise as a tutor also shines during the student tasting session of this Wine Appreciation MasterClass as he takes them through different wines. He helps students describe what their palates are feeling as they taste new wines.

I particularly loved the ‘wet dog in a phone booth’ method of describing the taste of wine. James used it to show that there’s no wrong way of describing what your palate is experiencing when you taste wine.

James Suckling comes across as someone who knows what he’s talking about, which is exactly what you want from an online course instructor. Suckling’s MasterClass’s approach makes things easy to understand, even if you were just a mere wine spectator.

About MasterClass

Since 2015, MasterClass brings 180+ online classes from top-tier instructors in almost any field. It includes pre-recorded video lessons from masters such as Richard Branson, Martin Scorsese, Aaron Sorkin, Gordon Ramsay, and many others.

The video quality equals Hollywood movies, and every MasterClass series is carefully structured. But that’s not all. There are interactive assignments, MasterClass community activities, and an ever-growing video library to enjoy. The sheer amount of content can make it hard to begin. Cursums will help you to choose wisely.

Uniqueness and Freshness of the Content

Anyone can write an article on wine tasting and try to pass it off as ‘expert advice.’ However, few people are as qualified to speak on the subject as the individual hailed as one of the most powerful wine critics today.

As expected, the James Suckling MasterClass offers content that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. While you can find James’ advice in various places online, compiling it into an all-you-need-to-know resource on wine tasting would be incredibly exhausting.

That’s why the Suckling MasterClass is a godsend for wine lovers. It gives you access to a resource on wine appreciation compiled by the guru himself, James Suckling.

Moreover, James Suckling’s MasterClass comes with a comprehensive 38-page PDF. It provides additional depth and serves as a valuable reference, allowing you to delve into the intricacies of wine tasting at your own pace. The workbook is exclusive to the MasterClass and cannot be found anywhere else.

It’s also worth noting that the James Suckling MasterClass is the only online course on the platform that offers wine education. As such, it saves you the time and effort of sifting through countless sources to find trustworthy advice, consolidating everything you need to know in one convenient place. However, if you’re interested in delving into more food-oriented courses on MasterClass, you can find lessons such as Alice Waters’ cooking MasterClass or Gordon Ramsay’s cookery lessons.

James Suckling MasterClass Review: Content and Structure Review

James Suckling’s MasterClass is designed to be completed relatively quickly. You can receive a comprehensive wine education from this famous wine critic in just one sitting! The entire course has a duration of 2 hours and 22 minutes, divided into 11 lessons. 

While the longest lesson is 28 minutes, most lessons are approximately 15 minutes long, making the Suckling MasterClass a breeze to go through.

Wine Tasting Techniques Explained

1-3 Lessons Summary

This James Suckling MasterClass kicks off with the guru introducing us to his online course. He emphasizes teaching wine appreciation, first and foremost, not just wine tasting. Suckling also gives a brief history of his experience in the wine industry.

He answers how he approaches wine tasting and why it’s crucial to understand the winemaking process if you really want to appreciate wine.

James Suckling explaines  Wine tasting techniques

The second lesson is where he actually begins tasting wines. However, it is not your typical wine-tasting session. He’s conducting a blind tasting. A blind tasting, as its name suggests, involves tasting wine without knowing what it is and then giving it a score.

This is when James also introduces us to his Hundred Points Wine Quality System that he uses to score wines regardless of whether he’s conducting a blind tasting or not.

In the third lesson, he gathers a couple of his students for a student-tasting experience. However, this doesn’t involve a blind test. Instead, he guides the students through various wine-tasting techniques while answering all their questions earnestly.

Take this opportunity to open your own bottle and share the experience with them. Some of the wines tasted in this session include Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.

James Suckling also teaches about the characteristics of different wines, sharing interesting facts such as why many modern wines don’t have a very deep color. I also appreciate that he teaches how to hold your wine glass and swirl the wine for a proper tasting experience.

Meet the Maker

4-7 Lessons Summary

In lesson 4, James teaches wine appreciation by taking you to the source of great wine, the Super Tuscan Tigna. Here, you meet the CEO of Antinori wine company, makers of the renowned Super-Tuscan and Tignanello wines.

After gaining excellent insight from Antinori on the intricacies of their winemaking process, they proceed to conduct a vertical tasting of the Tignanello wines. The tasting showcases four Tignanellos from four different decades, each bearing a unique story.

Vertical tasting involves sampling wines in chronological order, starting with the oldest and finishing with the newest. This experience allows you to observe the wine’s evolution over the years and understand how a climate item, such as the weather, influences the wine’s quality.

James Suckling talks about wine appreciation

Following the vertical tasting session, Antinori grants James the opportunity to engage in barrel tasting directly from one of their oak barrels. As the name suggests, barrel tasting involves tasting wine straight from the barrel, which James emphasizes as remarkably distinct from tasting wine poured out of a bottle.

This session also provides a sneak peek into the wine cellar of one of the world’s most famous wines while teaching you about the impact of different types of wine barrels on the aging process.

Subsequently, James leads you through the legendary Tuscan vineyards, allowing you to appreciate the immense effort involved in crafting great Italian wines. Here, various topics are discussed, including vine selection, vine training, drainage, and other factors that contribute to grape quality.

You also gain insight into why different wine regions typically specialize in specific types of wine. Learning about the pros and cons of various wine regions proved to be truly enlightening for me.

Education and Etiquette: Reading a Wine List

8-9 Lessons Summary

Lesson 8 features James Suckling showing us his home cellar. James suggests starting your home cellar with whatever you have. He talks about the importance of maintaining the right temperature and right humidity in a home cellar to preserve the quality of the wine.

He also discusses a few other topics. For example, how to choose the right wine for aging, the difference between screw cap wines and those that use corks, how to arrange your wine in your home cellar and more.

James Suckling showcases his home cellar in Lesson 8

After viewing Suckling’s wines, we get the pleasure to be a fly on the wall as James sits down for a one-on-one discussion with legendary winemaker Lamberto Frescobaldi. They talk about the proper way to navigate a wine menu and why you should sometimes consider buying wines by the glass.

James says that buying wines by the glass, although expensive, is an excellent way to sample wine without committing to a bottle. The winemaker, Frescobaldi, suggests going to establishments that offer wine tours. He gives an example of how his restaurant typically offers its customers three very small glasses of wine to help them find the right wine.

James suggests using memory, too. For example, it’s easy to remember one of the best wines as the 2015 Red Burgundy. Wine tours are for when you can’t find your favorite wines on the wine list. Alternatively, you can check a restaurant’s wine list online before visiting the premises or keeping track of the wine index to know the best-performing wines on the market.

Breaking the Rules of Pairing: A Tuscan Luncheon

10-11 Lessons Summary

The final chapters of James Suckling’s course are titled ‘A Tuscan Luncheon,’ where James sits down with his family and friends, including Frescobaldi, to enjoy the meal and discuss wine.

Some of the things they discuss include broadening your wine options when it comes to food pairing. For example, pairing red wines with fish is acceptable as long as the red wine acts like a white wine.

Exploring wine pairing with James Suckling's MasterClass

Moreover, you can pair spicy food with just about any wine, although it’s better to opt for those with a touch of sweetness. After the Tuscan lunch, we enter the final chapter, where James summarizes the course and emphasizes the beauty of wine tasting.

Fast-Track Lesson Plan

Finish James Suckling’s course in 1 hour, 37 minutes, and 6 seconds.

2.Tasting Techniques22:03
3.Student Tasting Experience28:20
5.A Vertical Tasting15:04
9.Reading a Wine List15:58
10.A Tuscan Lunch15:41

James Suckling MasterClass Review: Student Engagement and Retention

James Suckling’s MasterClass is made using stunning visuals and other high-quality production aspects that are typical of MasterClass courses, such as the French Pastry Fundamentals MasterClass by Dominique Ansel.

However, what really reels you in and keeps your attention is James Suckling’s authenticity. His passion shines through the screen, making you want to listen more. And before you know it, the MasterClass comes to an end.

My Personal Experience With James Suckling MasterClass

Things I Liked About the James Suckling MasterClass

Learning from a Renowned Wine Critic

Learning wine tasting from James Suckling is akin to learning how to play basketball from Michael Jordan. You’ll be learning from the best. James does deliver on the promise he makes at the beginning of the class when he says he teaches wine appreciation.

I came expecting to learn how to taste wine, which I learned, but most importantly, I came out with a new appreciation for all that goes into crafting great wine.

I also appreciated that most of, if not all, the wines used in the James Suckling MasterClass were somewhat relatively affordable, allowing you to join in on the experience.

Excellent Demonstration Skills

I thought it was an interesting idea for James Suckling to teach wine tasting via video. However, he makes it work. James has a way with words, vividly describing the sensations your palate should experience when tasting different wines.

He was able to clearly differentiate the tasting experience of a sparkling Rose from that of a more subtle, mature wine. James Suckling also doesn’t hesitate to demonstrate wine-tasting techniques, even if it means making potentially annoying noises with his mouth.

Extremely Comprehensive PDF Workbook

James Suckling’s MasterClass might feel short, but he more than makes up for it with his detailed PDF workbook. This resource gives detailed explanations of everything that was covered in the online course, allowing you to digest the material at your own pace.

Things I Didn’t Like About James Suckling’s MasterClass

The Course Could be More Comprehensive

This is the only fault I found in the James Suckling MasterClass. Though informative, I feel like it had the potential to be a lot better. It feels more like an introduction to wine tasting than anything else.

I know James said that his goal was to teach wine appreciation, but he could have tasted more wines than he did and covered even more nuanced topics.

That being said, it is likely James Suckling meant for this class to be an introductory course and is planning to add to it later on so we can gain even more wine appreciation.

Is James Suckling MasterClass Worth the Money

Cost of James Suckling MasterClass

James Suckling’s MasterClass has the same cost as all other courses on the platform. There are three annual plans available:

The family plan offers the best value for the money since you can join with friends or give MasterClass lessons as a gift, resulting in a significant reduction in the cost of the James Suckling MasterClass.. With over 180 courses to choose from, your friends are sure to find courses that suit their interests.

Individual (one device)$10 per month
Duo (two devices)$15 per month
Family (six devices)$20 per month

I must admit that I subscribed to MasterClass primarily because of James Suckling, and the other courses turned out to be a great bonus. It was definitely worth it, as other cooking lessons like Thomas Keller’s culinary course and Aaron Franklin’s cooking are still keeping me occupied months later.

Does the Class Keep Its Promises

As you can tell from this James Suckling MasterClass review, I wasn’t disappointed by the course. I not only learned several techniques for tasting wines, I also learned the intricacies of the wine-making process. Consequently, I came out with a whole new appreciation for wine, which is exactly what James Suckling intended when he made this MasterClass.

James Suckling MasterClass: What Others Have Said

You’re unlikely to find a genuinely bad James Suckling MasterClass review anywhere. Most people appreciate the class for what it is – an opportunity to learn from the revered James Suckling. 

According to one user on Reddit, “Some people rip on James Suckling (and a lot of other critics in general) for overrating wines, but I think that they are helping spread wine enthusiasm and appreciation, as exemplified here, which is wonderful.”

 Reddit review of James Suckling's MasterClass

According to another, “All I know is the wines I’ve tried by him rated above a 90 are head and shoulders above some random 20 dollar bottles of buy from like Kroger. Definitely spread the enthusiasm to me as well.”

Students review on Reddit about James Suckling's MasterClass

And according to another on YouTube, “I took the class and really enjoyed it and now buy great wine cheaper than before.”

A testimonial of Steph Curry's class reviews on Twitter

“-I took the class and really enjoyed it and now buy great cheaper than before”

Essentials Used in the James Suckling MasterClass

Being a wine-tasting course, you’ll need the following items to get the most out of it: 

  • A corkscrew
  • Four to eight clear, stemmed, all-purpose wine glasses. The bowl should be large enough to swirl five ounces of wine without spilling.
  • A comfortable, distraction-free place to taste.
  • A notebook for your tasting notes or a notetaking application like CellarTracker or Vivino.
  • Access to a good local wine shop.
  • A friend to taste with.

Alternatives to James Suckling MasterClass

Other Food and Cooking Courses Available on MasterClass

  • Wolfgang Puck teaches cooking
  • Gordon Ramsay teaches restaurant recipes at home
  • Thomas Keller teaches cooking techniques
  • Aaron Franklin teaches texas-style BBQ
  • Apollonia Poilane teaches bread baking
  • Massimo Bottura teaches modern Italian cooking
  • Dominique Crenn teaches modern vegetarian cooking
  • Niki Nakayama teaches Modern Japanese cooking
  • Michael Pollan teaches intentional eating

Alternatives to MasterClass


Udemy is one of the most popular online learning providers, with a massive choice of various classes. The learning platform covers a range of wine-tasting courses for beginners and those aiming for a WSET certification.


Coursera is another big name in the online courses market, with a lot to offer in wine-related fields. It’s a great way to expand your knowledge of the field without spending much money on online learning.


Skillshare focuses on practical courses, with educational videos substituting expensive college courses. The aim is to provide users with marketable skills for finding a job. There are some great courses related to food and winemaking as well.

Q&A about James Suckling MasterClass

You can complete the James Suckling MasterClass in 2 hours and 22 minutes. And if you use the fast-track lesson plan, you can complete it in about one and a half hours.

The MasterClass membership, which provides access to the full James Suckling course, is priced at $15 per month (billed annually for $180). While it may appear to be a significant amount, it also grants you unlimited access to over 180 other courses. For a more affordable choice, you can opt for the family plan and divide the monthly bill of $23 among friends.

If you find yourself dissatisfied with the James Suckling class within the initial 30 days of your purchase, MasterClass offers a full refund of the amount paid and will subsequently terminate your access.

The James Suckling MasterClass does indeed offer additional bonuses and materials. Along with the course, you will receive a comprehensive workbook that provides in-depth insights and further exploration of the topics covered.

Author: Bill Tremlon

Blogger | Life-long learner

Bill Tremlon

I’ve spent the last ten years passionately studying various online learning platforms. Udemy, MasterClass, Coursera, and Skillshare are the main ones, but I review lesser-known study tools as well. I test and analyze each course and lesson thoroughly before sharing my research.



James Suckling guided us through a transformative journey of wine appreciation.


Author: Bill Tremlon

Blogger | Life-long learner

Bill Tremlon