This weekend, rather than hitting the bar after a day spent skiing or riding, why not combine cocktail time with learning a little something new? The Fox School of Wine’s Weekend Wine Series, held every Friday and Saturday evening at Lower Deer Valley’s Silver Baron Lodge, is a fun and out-of-the-ordinary way to get the party started before heading out to dinner.

Halen Seevinck takes part in a Fox School of Wine Chardonnay smack down.

In 2008, when Kirsten Fox told her family she was starting a wine school what impressed them the most was her creativity. “My daughter said ‘Let me get this straight. You’re going to get a group of people together to talk and laugh and taste wine and you’re calling it a business? Sounds more like happy hour to me,’” Fox says. The school’s format is a spoof on Fox’s personal experience in private school: she calls herself the headmistress and other instructors are the faculty. “I often joke about how in my school everyone wants detention,” she says.

The most ingenious part, however, is the library. Fox catalogs grades from all wines tasted during the Weekend Wine Series on The Library is a great, cut-though-the-crap resource I pull up on my smart phone every time I’m perusing the aisles at the liquor store.

Weekend Wine Series tastings are 45-minutes long and begin at 6:15 p.m. Participants taste five wines, each under $30 per bottle, studying aspects of the wine including growing region, grape characteristics, wine labels and vocabulary. At the end of the class, the students grade the wines and learn pricing and critics’ ratings. “I love it when a critically-acclaimed wine gets something like a D-plus in the Wine Series. I like to think my classes lower the snob guard people so frequently have up in regard to wine. People don’t really want to know what region in France the grapes for a particular wine were grown in. They want to know how they can find a wine they will like,” Fox says.