Kevin Zraly

Writer & Educator

kevin zraly headshot

Kevin Zraly is an award-winning wine writer and one of the world's foremost wine educators. Kevin has been teaching wine for 50 years, sharing his passion with thousands of eager students from all walks of life.  He has written eight books about wine and food, including his annually updated Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, which has sold more than four million copies - making it the number one wine book in the United States.  In the fall of 2020, he will release the 35th anniversary edition of the book.  He also co-authored the definitive book about red wine – aptly named Red Wine – with The World Wine Guys, Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen.  Kevin is the youngest person to receive the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award (2011), recognized for his commitment to making the study of wine accessible and fun to all as well as for his monumental contributions to the world of food and wine. He is also one of only three people from the world of wine to receive this recognition – the other two being Robert Mondavi and Ernest Gallo.

Wine students and industry peers alike will tell you that it's Kevin's approach to wine and wine education that makes him a highly sought-after educator, speaker and writer. He emphasizes individual preference, enjoyment and the lifelong pursuit of knowledge, and shares the techniques, language and specifics of tasting wine in a way that is accessible to everyone – whether they be a novice or experienced oenophile.

In 1970, Kevin began working at ­­The DePuy Canal House in High Falls, New York, helping the restaurant earn an unprecedented four-star review from Craig Claiborne of The New York Times.  The next year, Kevin taught his first wine class – "Wine & Cheese 101."  In 1972, Kevin hitchhiked to California to visit all of the state’s wineries…all 24 of them!  Shortly thereafter, he convinced the administration of his state college to offer their first accredited wine course, “Wine History, Types & Production," which he taught to the college seniors while he himself was still a junior.  Following his graduation, Kevin traveled to every major wine region in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany taking in as much wine knowledge as possible.  In April of 1976, famed restaurateur Joe Baum hired Kevin to "Create the biggest and best wine list New York has ever seen, and don't worry about how much it costs!" for Windows of the World, located on the 106th and 107th floors of New York City's World Trade Center.  Kevin rose to the challenge.

Not only did Kevin create an award-winning wine list, he also started what became the most well-known wine education program in the world – the Windows on the World Wine School.  The school continued uninterrupted for 25 years until the tragic destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.  Eventually, Kevin relaunched the school in a new setting and it ran successfully until he held his final class in November, 2016.  The school graduated more than 20,000 "happy" students.  

Kevin is the creator of the New York Wine Experience, one of the country's most popular wine events. He also spent four years working with the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, and in 2002, partnered with the legendary wine store, Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits, where he started to teach his famous One Hour Wine Expert classes, a variety of Advanced Wine Courses and Master Classes. 

Kevin has shared his passion for the enjoyment of wine through his books, appearances on major television networks, and through features in The New York TimesPeopleThe Wall Street JournalGQ Magazine and many others.  Kevin continues to teach and entertain through his virtual wine classes, dinners and events for corporations and individuals.  

Kevin is the father of four children (vintages '91, '93, '97 and '99), and lives in New Paltz, New York.