Education is a continual goal for us. After all, how can one not love seeing a light bulb go off in someone’s eyes? To that end, here is a wine & food workshop we did in our VINO restaurant tonight.
We first served 3 wines…..blind. The goal was not to have anyone try & guess the grape varietal, the soil, the place of origin nor the producer. We asked if each was a good wine……how much they would pay for it….& how it works with food. For the non-professional attendees, we are hoping this will help them select better wines (& why) for home use.
Wine #1–we chose the 2011 Sbragia Chardonnay “Home Ranch”. We wanted to start with something in most wine drinkers’ comfort zone, hence an oak laden, lush, round, wonderfully layered Californian Chardonnay. Participants readily reeled off descriptors such as apple, pineapple, citrus typical of the Chardonnay grape variety, as well as oak descriptors such as vanilla & clove. As expected, many of the tasters really liked the rich mouthfeel & rather smooth texture as the wine flowed from beginning to end. We then asked whether they thought the wine was dry, medium dry, medium, medium sweet or sweet. The consensus was medium dry. We then addressed the body of the wine, which most agreed it was medium to medium full. We then explained what acidity meant, why we were addressing it & how to perceive it on the tongue. The majority felt this had medium+ acidity. A really good start for the work shop, as participants now had “lingo” to comfortably speak about each wine AND we therefore established a base to now compare the other 2 wines. (By the way, Ed Sbragia was the long time star winemaker of Beringer & greatly helped to bring high acclaim & accolades to their Reserve designated wines. Sbragia is his own label, done with his family).
Wine #2–2013 Sella & Mosca Vermentino de Sardegna “La Cala”–is a medium dry to dry, lighter, crisp, gulpable “country” Vermentino based white wine from the island of Sardegna. The particpants felt this wine was drier than Wine #1, lighter in body, with medium high acidity. They also noted the wine had NO oak nuances, had good intensity & concentration, without heaviness….flowed very evenly & seamlessly from beginning to end…..& finished UN-oaky, UN-alcoholic & UN-bitter. Again, another “good” wine. Finally, some in the group noted this wine had stony/mineral character, as opposed to only fruit & oak driven.
Wine #3–2014 Domaine Skouras “Zoe”–is a medium dry, light to medium to medium bodied, highly aromatic white “country” wine from Greece, produced from the indigenous Roditis & Moschofilero grape varieties. The participants felt this wine lied somewhere in between the first 2 wines in terms of dryness & body with NO oak nuances, good intensity & concentration & a wonderful flow on the palate from beginning to end. Another “good” wine. Imagine, in 20 minutes, the group learned how to better understand the profile of each wine AND had “lingo” to comfortably talk about each wine individually & in comparison to each other. Great start!
Now, we served sauteed shrimp served with a garlic, lemon, white wine sauce, garnished with fresh tarragon & had the participants taste a piece of the prepared shrimp with each wine. Interestingly only 1 person (out of 24) preferred Wine #1 with the shrimp. (Some people said it, however, was an interesting pairing, but just not their favorite.) One person noted that Wine #1 over powered the dish–too strong, & higher in alcohol. Others agreed. Another noted that Wine #1 had a slight bitterness with didn’t work so well together. A large % of people liked Wine #2 with the dish. They felt the wine accented the food, just as a squeeze of lemon would. Another group of tasters liked Wine #3 with the dish, as it made the food taste better. One person noted, (which others later agreed) that the wine’s aromatics worked really well with the tarragon.
Interestingly, in most cases, this was a huge learning experience. Many people commented that the wine they liked by itself was NOT the wine they preferred with the food. The learning continued as they headed downstairs to order some food & wine before they left. I was amazed at how open & adventuresome each were now because of the insights they experienced in the workshop.
What a really fun night!!!!!! Thank you to all who came!