By Amy Shuster
I am often perplexed when it comes to the subject of wine. In restaurants, it’s usually an “eeny meeny miney mo” type of situation and I end up blindly guessing, hoping that I’ll like what I order.
What if there was a class that aided in taking all the guess work out of drinking wine? What if there was a way to learn more and
get drunk have fun at the same time?? I think you know where I’m going with this… cue, Learn About Wine.
I had so many questions. What is the proper way to taste wine? Do I smell then swirl? Or swirl then smell? Why must I aerate and for how long? How does one go about picking out a nice bottle for oneself or for a birthday gift perhaps? How important does region or origin play in the taste? Does a newer year = cheap wine? Do my purple lips = cheap wine??
Our Instructor, Ian Blackburn was chock full of information about wine and was equally quite entertaining, providing interesting facts and even a few bits of light comedy.
Every bottle we sampled truly had a story of its own, and the two hour long seminar flew by like a good movie.
I was really into it… as you can tell from all notes I took!
Although I wrote a lot down, I never once felt like I was overwhelmed with information. Ian does a good job of getting into the specifics about each of the wines’ origin, grape size and taste difference. He gives you a detailed history about the grower and how long they’ve been around.
We sampled a nice variety of six California wines and one crisp and delicate French Burgundy. We discussed everything from the color (hold a white napkin behind it to see more clearly!) to the aroma, to the mouthfeel, and we compared a few side by side.
Did you ever notice how you can tell a wine’s alcoholic content just by smelling it? Basically the stronger the wine, the bolder the aroma will be. If you can get your whole nose in there and the smell is still very light, (like the Chardonnay Bourgogne Blanc Burgundy we sampled – below left), you can almost bet there is less alcohol content in it. (Ah, so THAT’s how the French are able to drink every day and not be wasted all the time…).
You now know le’ secret!
Then we observed the Duckhorn, Merlot from Napa Valley. It’s very dark in color, it’s made from grapes with thicker skins and has a HEAVY tannin. In other words, make sure you get a lyft after drinking this one cause it is quite strong. Bold, good, and STRONG. It’s also a $45 dollar bottle so you’re probably not drinking this one every day. (below – right)
Of our 15 or so person class, there was a good mix to the group; some teachers, filmmakers, wine novices and repeat students. There were couples on dates and one young lady came with her mom. It was a casual and fun afternoon and as we listened, we leisurely snacked on dried cherries, apricots, chocolate and gourmet cheeses which paired nicely with the wines.
I completely recommend this course for anyone wine-curious. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon and is a most definately a great date idea!
Although this was an “Intro to Wine” class I felt I got a lot more from it than just the basics of wine. Plus, by the end of the class, I was happily sauced, a bunch more wine savvy, and I left eager to return again and learn more.
Thanks for a great afternoon Ian!