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Wine. An Art and a Science

By. Dr. Elinor Garely, Editor-in- Chief,

Harriet Lembeck: Dean and Pioneer Wine and Spirits Education and Tourism

Wine is more than grapes, terroir, weather, science and luck. If it were, wines would be made in a laboratory and not on the hills and dales of villages and communities around the world. Because the production of wine is complex and the resulting beverage is more than “something to drink,” consumers are taking the educational route to  understanding what is in their glass and simultaneously increasing their wine consumption.

We frequently take the growing interest in wine for granted; however, if we stepped back a few decades and looked at wine consumption in 1984, we would find an entirely different wine drinking environment. According to the Wine Institute (, in 1984 Americans were consuming 555 million gallons of wine; in 2015 we were drinking 913 million gallons of wine.

One of the reasons we have a heightened knowledge, appreciation and love of wine falls to an important wine guru, Harriet Lembeck. As a New Yorker, she did not grow up surrounded by vineyards and while an occasional glass or two was part of the contemporary social scene, her Bryn Mawr education focused on music (oboe) and chemistry.

Post-graduate employment did not set her on the wine trail either… she worked in Bloomingdale’s in the Truffle section and then for Hammacher Schlemmer, where she learned to market inexpensive gadgets to high-end customers by enhancing their curb- appeal.

An interest in learning more about wine motivated to take a wine class at the Waldorf Astoria with Harold Grossman, the author of Grossman’s Guide to Wines, Beers and Spirits. Lembeck was a good student with a refined palate so Grossman brought her onboard to be his assistant. When he had to drop the classes due to illness, Lembeck stepped in to teach, and the rest is history.

Torch Bearer

Today Lembeck is considered as one of the deans of wine education in the United States. She is a Founding Member of the Society of Wine Educators, Director of the former New School’s Wine & Spirits Program and President of the Harriet Lembeck’s Wine & Spirits Program, the longest running program in the country. She is also a Certified Wine Educator (CWE) and Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS).

In addition, she Chairs the Wine Committee and is a Director of Les Dames D’Escoffier; a Charter Member of the Metropolitan Contemporary Glass Group (MGG); Past- President/Lecturer for the Tasters’ Guild and other organizations that offer tasting experiences for their employees and clients.

Lembeck chairs the NY Wine Press, is a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute of Masters of Wine; an Associate Member of the American Society of Enologists; a Lifetime member of the American Wine Society; a member of the Chevaliers du Tastevin (NY) and associated with Commanderie de Bordeaux (NY).

As an author, her books include Grossman’s Guide to Wines, Beers & Spirits (6 th  and 7 th  Editions), and How to Read Wine Label. Her columns appear in Beverage Dynamics Magazine, and Wine & Spirits Magazine, in addition she is a contributor to the Oxford Companion to Wine and Syracuse University Press.


Lembeck’s long list of awards include the Wines and Vines Trophy for Excellence in wine writing, the Award of Merit from the American Wine Society, the Award of Achievement from the Sommelier Society, the Peter Sichel Award for Wine Education, a Golden Vine Award from the Knights of the Vine, the Bronze Medal from the NY Wine & Food Society and she was named Wine Educator of the Year by the European Wine Council. She was also recognized by the American Heart Association with the Chefs with Heart wine award.


Lembeck is in great demand to judge wine competitions that have included: the Sonoma Fair, the California State Fair, the NY State Wine Classic, Bon Appetit Magazine (SF), the Hudson Valley Wine Competition, the National Restaurant Association, the Oregon State Fair, the American Wine Expo (Dallas, Texas) and the International Wine Review.

Wine Educator

For an introduction to wines or those looking to refresh their wine knowledge, the Lembeck classes are considered among the very best in the country. She is noted for her wine expertise, her enthusiasm and her supportive persona that takes the mystery, mystique and intimidation out of the learning process. Classes include lectures, blind and guided tastings, open-book quizzes and a certificate of completion that is recognized by the wine/spirits trade. For additional information:

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