Wine Class and Tasting at the Wine Company

Wednesday evening wine class at the Wine Company was a great experience. Edwin Mahieu, a local resident and “wine coach,” provided some insights regarding wine basics, stemware, handling of different cork screws, and storage temperatures. The evening was further enhanced with a basic wine video and three different white wines for this initial class.

An introduction to the basic stemware that every home should have; covered four types of stemware:

  • Champagne or sparking wine glasses
  • Chardonnay or typical white wine glasses
  • Bordeaux or large red wine glasses
  • Port or dessert wine glasses

There are many different types of stemware that a person can add to a collection, but these four are the ones that add the most value. Sometimes the dessert glass can be substituted with the Chardonnay glass saving a little more on the cost.

Some other things to keep in mind regarding wine glasses are that plastic works best around the pool. A broken piece of glass is hard to find at the bottom of the pool. When having a party inside the house, a very basic wine glass that is not too large is great for large groups of people. These are the glasses typically used at most wineries. They are easy to clean in a dishwasher and damaging them won’t break the bank. Go into your attic, open up those boxes of logo wine glasses, and don’t worry about someone breaking them, except around the pool of course.

The evening continued with a discussion on corks and the many ways bottles of wine are sealed. Corks come in many types and sizes. It seems that wineries are trying to find new sealing methods to keep their product in pristine condition. In fact, Australia and New Zealand has taken screw caps to a whole new level, sealing in some cases, the majority of their wines with screw caps. Although the figures are not exactly known, New Zealand is estimated over 70% use of screw caps for their wines. This sealing method is considered the best sealing method, environmentally friendly through recycling. Screw caps can be easily be decorated without an additional step to the process, since the capsule is an integrated part of the screw cap. For some, the noise of the screw cap breaking loose is just so hard to get over. A technique was demonstrated in class, by pre-breaking the screw cap, covering the screw cap with the right hand, and rotating the bottom of the bottle. Not a perfect disguise, but better then nothing. Further discussion of glass corks used by ZD Wineries in Napa, California and traditional corks being used by most French and California wineries dominated most of the discussion.

As the class continued, an ’07 La Tunella Pinot Grigio was opened. This full-bodied Italian Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris as the French like to call it had a slightly mushroom, light floral and tropical fruit nose. The taste reflected the nose and was very refreshing, making this wine a great start for the evening.

Next up was ’07 Saint Clair Family Estate, Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. This was an interesting wine that demonstrated how a wine can pick up unusual tastes. In some cases, Sauvignon Blanc can have light notes of certain vegetables. However the group concluded that this wine had an extreme Bell Pepper nose and taste. After further research, the tastes came from a single flavor molecule called methoxypyranzine (See Chemical Heritage Newsmagazine for article This is due to the large amount of foliage covering the grapes that prevents the grapes from getting enough sunlight. Although the wine was not that tasty, it did provide a strong foundational discussion on wine flavors and what should and shouldn’t be a part of the drinking experience.

Finally the tasting ended with an ’08 Falcone Chardonnay. This wonderful Chardonnay had light notes of toasted oak, rich tropical fruit, and expressed all the elements that make a great California Chardonnay a well crafted wine. This wine was everything that the Sauvignon Blanc was not and was well received by the class and warranted a second pour.

After the class was over, other wines were purchased that keep the conversation going even further into the evening. Many people had their favorites, most leaning towards red wines, making the next class that is scheduled for Wednesday, the 27th of January even more exiting. The upcoming class will be covering red wines from Sonoma and Central Coast with focus on Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The class will also cover the use of aeration devices, decanting, and the purchasing of wine. The cost is so low; it really should not be mentioned in this article.

The Wine Company classes are every Wednesday at 6 pm and include a minimum of three wines as part of the tasting. Environment is extremely casual, so bring your friends, family, and willingness to learn a little about wine, because wine is a sharing experience and all knowledge levels are welcome.

Authored by: Petrus

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