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  • Writer's picturePalate Partners

Knowledgeable, Well-Managed, Satisfying: Praise for Classes, Events at Palate Partners

From Casual Friday tastings to private events and formal certification courses, students give high marks to Palate Partners School of Wine & Spirits.

Following a recent Osher Lifelong Learning Institute course on wines around the world taught by school co-owner Deb Mortillaro, 100 percent of students said they were “very” or “completely” satisfied with the course and would recommend it to others.

“The instructor was knowledgeable, passionate and enthusiastic about the subject matter.”

“Deb is wonderful teaching about wines. She is so knowledgeable and capable. If one wants to learn about wines, Deb is the best.”

Even those who have a background in wine, or those who have received formal training, often say they learn something new at Palate Partners’ classes and events. Deb’s direct, no-nonsense style is legendary in a you-never-know-what-she’ll-say-next kind of way.

Outside of scheduled classes, Deb regularly conducts events with groups in a variety of settings from retirement communities to college campuses. Her previous culinary training makes her an expert in food and wine pairings and a go-to source for quality recommendations for everything from intimate dinners to big time celebrations. She even works with local caterers planning menus and matching the perfect wines from the appetizer through the main course.

“If you like a little knowledge about what wines to drink, the classes are a good way to learn,” said one class participant.

After more than 40 years in the food and wine biz, Deb says she feels more comfortable as a teacher than an entrepreneur. It’s a view that just earned her a prestigious international scholarship from the Women of the Vine and Spirit Foundation to continue her own WSET diploma level wine studies.

“The opportunity to welcome, instruct and mentor students and young professionals is what’s exciting to me,” she said. Deb is one of only a handful of WSET instructors in the Pittsburgh region, and earlier this year, became one of only three women in North America to earn WSET Level 3 certifications in Wine, Spirits and Sake.

Chris Griese, Eastern USA Sales Manager for Sake Story Imports, said what sets Deb apart is her willingness to elevate the requisite subject matter knowledge to the highest level.

“She pushes herself and her staff to know the subject more deeply. That personal passion has taken her to Japan to study and experience first-hand the geography, the brewers, the breweries and the sake culture.”

Other colleagues also praised Deb’s commitment to going the extra mile for students. Jeremy Jones, Owner, World of Discovery Media, who is currently studying for the WSET Diploma in wine alongside Deb, said she has been a wonderful study partner and mentor.

“Deb has an incredibly approachable and welcoming teaching style that makes more challenging subjects enjoyable and easy to learn no matter your expertise,” he said.

For a full list of upcoming classes including holiday themes and WSET certification, how to schedule a private event or tasting, and more, visit

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