The ABC’s of Wine, Grape Juice 101, Wine 101, Wine Education 101, Wine Basics, Wine Intro, Wine Pairing 101…it’s all been done, right?
Hmmm, think again.
Amusée brings to you a new series of gulping grape juice gracefully in a class called: The Wine Buzz. (I know you love the title, try not to swipe it…)
While I’ve taught a zillion 101, How to, What to and Why to – Wine Classes – this, my friends is a brand new way to enjoy, appreciate and give you a bajillion more reasons to keep coming back. Yes, we know our very popular Twin Cities Food and Wine Classes at Cooks of Crocus Hill are popular, but we thought we’d send on one more reason for you to love us.
My new wine series called The Wine Buzz – is a fun 2 hr, sensory tasting involving grapes, small bites and more as a way to introduce you to How to, What to and Ideas to – drinking, sniffing and slurping more vino!
Nope, I don’t cover the 5 S’s, or go into How much you SHOULD spend to enjoy good wine – I leave all those pretentious, old school ideas up to the rookies. Here, at Wine Buzz, I’m giving you some good quintessential knowledge, yet at the same time – leaving it up to your palate to decide upon, which is best for you!
Last week in our first segment – we covered the basics: Chardonnay, Riesling, Syrah and Cabernet. Looking at wine from an Old World vs. New World perspective – attendees really got into the ‘Wow, that’s why I like this style!’ kind of mindset. Teaching folks the basics of grapes based on climates and regions, is truly my style. I say it all of the time – Never kick a grape to the curb until you’ve tasted it from every corner of the globe. Only after you’ve done that and still have decided that you’re not into it, can you leave it behind (for a while).
I teach from the idea that grapes are grapes. Is there a reason why when I blind taste that I can pick out the Cabernet grapes from the Syrah grapes? Absolutely! Cabernet grapes are still Cabernet grapes and the same for Syrah but, it can be like taking your taste buds on vacation at the same time. Did the banana you consumed in Mexico taste the same as it did in Canada? Probably. But you notice that if a banana or an apple or an orange is grown in different climates will produce a noticeably different level of mouth-feel based on region as to the birthplace of the fruit you consumed. At the same time – depending on what I did to that grape or fruit - (from a Winemaker’s perspective) – now we can make a grape smell and taste a bit more different depending on how we aged or procured the fruit itself. Is it caramel-like, with hints of coconut, topped off with a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg and/or allspice? All distinct aromas and flavors that can come from a grape’s aging – inside a barrel, is the barrel charred, medium toasted?
After all, a grape is a a grape is a grape. From Oregon to NZ, Pinot Noir is Pinot Noir- yet the climate and the Winemaker’s hand can all play a significant difference as to the grape’s final mouth-feel - depending on how hot the vintage was, or what barrel the Winemaker decided to put the wine into. Catch my drift?
Which brings me to my initial question ~ Did you come for the Steak?
I’m a fan of raw fruit. I like to be able to taste the whole grape, whether it’s Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Cabernet. While most wines involving Bordeaux grapes are blended (ie: Cab, Merlot, P Verdot, Cab Franc and Malbec) – I still like to be able to taste the purity of each one of those fruits. I don’t mind a little cinnamon, cardamom or vanilla from time to time – yet I’m also, at the same time, extremely finicky when it comes to what’s called, The Heavy Handed-ness of a Winemaker.
Did your wine taste like the suntan lotion you used at the beach last summer? Could be a result of too much oak on that little baby grape you’re drinkin’. Winemaking is like cooking, really. When you head to your favorite steakhouse – do you go because you can’t wait to have that fat, drippy New York steak or do you go because you can’t wait for the side of Bearnaise to dunk it into? Really, that’s for you to decide. Most would say, I’m heading to my favorite steakhouse because I can’t wait to have that specific cut of meat that makes my mouth water – yet, some would say…it’s only better once I dunk it in that side of Bearnaise, right?
Think of your steak as the grape Cabernet. Firm, strong with tannin, rich and complex, dense and absolutely delicious. You love the taste of the Caberent, or in this case, the steak. The server tells you where it’s from, what butcher, dry aged, wet aged, etc. Same thing with a grape. You want to know how it was grown, produced, handled, etc. All of the real facts that make the steak or the Cabernet grape what it truly is. Now imagine dunking that beautifully hand held, farmer grown Cabernet grape into a side of Bearnaise. While you still taste the Cabernet under the sauce, you’re not getting the whole picture. Fair to assume? Too much Bearnaise can represent a brand new oak barrel, rich and dripping with hints of butter, cream and spice. Maybe that is your program. Some may live under the assumption that everything tastes better with a condiment, right? For some, yes. For others, no way.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is…if you came for the steak, or in the this case - the Grape – head out seeking Winemakers that use mother nature to express their product. If you farmed it right, it should come out – just as beautifully as you expected. Not to say that you can’t have a beautiful product and manipulate your product to still taste deliciously with hints of caramel and butter – but it really is, to each his own.
I’ve been kind of thinking about this theory all weekend. Yet, I wanted to express it in the right way. This discussion came off of a great class last Thursday nite while presenting the Wine Buzz to folks. It was sort of an eye opener for many. I had never really presented wine in that manner before, but come to think of it – why not? I’m a huge foodie. When I’m not working – we’re either cooking at home or eating out. We all like our food presented to us differently. We all have our own ideas as to what makes food, good. The same should be up to you when it comes to your wine. Again, drink what you like – but remember, always take the time to step outside of your little box every once in a while. If you like your wine with heavy hints of vanilla, cream and coconut – try it from a producer that comes from more of a natural perspective. Just a little oak will go a long way…
Want more for your buzz? Head to our next Wine Buzz class at Cooks of Crocus Hill this summer.
Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you soon!