Thursday, April 23, 2009

i'll miss you, wine class

Oh Wine and Beverages, I already miss you. You gave me a new perspective of the world, making me, for a split second, forget even the tragedies and downfalls of other countries, only to focus my attention on the beautiful grape varietals, the history of culture and progression of excellence that each grape growing region has grasped over the years. The perfection and care that these dedicated individuals put into their grapes and the consideration and strive to make the perfect wine for the consumer is amazing. Pure passion.

If you ever feel you need to know just a little more about wine or wine and food or...just feel like taking a visit to the CIA Greystone, I suggest you take a wine class at our Rudd Center. It was actually mentioned in Food and Wine Magazine in the May 2009 issue on page 110 under "best places to study wine." You can go to to get more info. You won't regret it, I promise. I actually am planning on taking a food and wine pairings class within the next year so if you're thinking about it let me know and maybe we can take one together!

One of the most entertaining parts of the class, as my last blog post emphasised, were the comments people made about the smell and taste of different wines we tasted each day. Some of my favorites were:

-burnt toast
-fruit loop
-beef jerky
-pink eraser
-wet rock
-Kern's nectar
-cigarettes/ nasty ash tray
-dehydrated strawberries
-grandmother's old couch
-canned pineapple
-play dough
-chlorinated pool
-caramel corn
-exotic wood from an import store
-wet cave
-Costco's dried mango's
-leather sack
-vanilla frosting
-a pet store
-red cabbage, braised

And finally, have you ever thought your wine smelled "off?" Here are a few the most common wine odor defects:

1. Oxidized-- will smell stale, tired, sherry-like. This is caused by too much oxygen contact.
2. Volatile Acidity (or acetic acid)-- will smell like vinegar or nail polish. This is cause by bacteria.
3. Sulfides-- will smell like rotten egg or sulfur. You can actually make the smell of this go away by aerating your wine for a little while.
4. Brettanomyces-- smells like band aid/medicinal, OR barnyard/burlap. Caused by spoilage of yeast, usually comes from poor sanitation practices in winery.
5. Corked-- musty, mildew, moldy. Sometimes you'll find a moldy cork which will automatically tell you the wine is "corked."
6. Sulfites--pungent, smell of a freshly lit match. Sulfites are added to the wine after fermentation to prevent defects 1-4, but...sometimes there's too much added.

Here's to wine knowledge!
You should probably come to the Napa Valley and go for some tastings to refine your palate.
Call me if you do.....please.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

"smells like marijuana.."

I am now fully immersed in my Wines and Beverages Class after a week and completely loving it. Our teacher, John B. (his last name is German, long and he never makes anyone remember it) is a walking wine encyclopedia and I've been amazed at how much he keeps my interest as he rattles off facts and figures encompassing all that this complex industry holds.
Every day we taste different wines from different regions and yes, it adds up, and yes, we spit, or I spit...because if I didn't my nights would be consecutive blurs and I would get absolutely nothing done.
One wine that has stood out thus far has been the Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Riesling, "Eroica" 2006, from Columbia Valley, WA. Easy to drink, crisp and delicious....and I'm pretty sure I spotted it at the Trader Joe's here in Napa for a decent price. I never thought I was much into Rieslings before this week but have found out I really enjoy their flavor and they're not always super sweet.
As we taste each day we go through the Wine Tasting Sheet motions of appearance, smell, acidity, tannins, body, food pairings etc. etc. On Friday we tasted a flight of wines from New York and North Carolina and one, the Dr. Konstantin Frank Semi Dry Riesling, smelled exactly like marijuana. Being that we're all adults and have all at some point smelled marijuana whether it be at a concert or walking down the streets of California I didn't think much of sharing my opinion with the class. After John called on me and I told him I thought it smelled EXACTLY like marijuana probably half the class fixated their wide eyes on me and said, "whoa!" Everything from a sarcastic, "Gosh Vanessa, I didn't know you smoked out," to, "I can't believe Vanessa just said that," to, "she's the last person who would know what that smells like," came from all around me echoing throughout the cold room. John B. just chuckled, agreed with me and amused himself with the comments floating around. I, surprised at the commotion still couldn't wrap my head around why it was such a big deal and would not let up on the obvious fact that the wine and marijuana had identical scents.
I didn't think this particular event was blog worthy until the next day while working at the school classmates were still laughing about it and couldn't believe I said it. Then later that night one of my friends said, "gosh, I would never have the guts to say that to our teacher! but you Vanessa, because we know you don't smoke, I guess it's okay...but John probably thinks you're a pot head now." Great, great. My honesty has paid off with one of the coolest teachers at the CIA thinking I smoke out. My honest self will just have to correct this misunderstanding at some point within the next two weeks of class!