How natural should wine be? That’s one of the hottest questions in the wine world today.
On September 12, join me at the University of Chicago’s Graham School for a Saturday seminar entitled: “Red, white and “green” wines: can you taste the difference?” We will discuss issues relating to organic and biodynamic wines, talk about some leading wines and wine makers, and see if we can taste the difference between some conventional wines and their eco-wine counterparts in a blind tasting. No previous wine experience is necessary. Hope to see you there!
The most recent session of my six-week introductory wine class at NYU wrapped up last week. We like to end the class in style: a giant edition of show and tell and taste. For some odd reason, Mrs. Vino always refers to this as the party, but no! It is an assignment!
Each participant brings in a wine to present to the class, which means we get to taste about 25 wines that evening. Good times! And ever since I banned people from getting wines at the closest store to our venue, a store that seems to specialize in unearthing wines that have been stored next to the boiler for several winters, the quality of the wines has risen tremendously and people really have a lot of run exploring the wine shops of the city. Some people brought in bottles from trips to wineries in New York and California, and others were looking to try something out on us before pouring it at Thanksgiving. Here are a few of the highlights from last week: Read more…
Which wines will we be pouring at the U of C this Saturday afternoon? Well, there’s a generous wine budget and I spent it all. Some of the wines will include Ridge Monte Bello 1990 and a mature Bordeaux, Pax Cellars Griffin’s Lair (from magnum) and J.L Chave St. Joseph. There will be more but I don’t want to ruin the surprise!
So sign up for the few remaining spaces if you can. It will be a really fun edition of our Saturday seminars where no previous knowledge of wine is required for this non-credit session. All participants will also get a signed copy of my new book, Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink. All wines poured will tie in to the themes of the book. Click though for more details and registration info. (And no, I don’t get paid any more based on enrollment; it’s just that these wines will be crazy fun so come, taste them, and contribute to the discussion!)
If for some reason that doesn’t work out, I’ll be doing a smaller, shorter tasting at Just Grapes on Thursday (details and registration) and a book signing at Sam’s Lincoln Park on Friday, 5 PM – 7 PM. Stop by and say hi! Now if only I could score some Cubs tickets, my trip to Chicago would be complete!
This fall, I’ll have the good fortune to return to Chicago. No, I won’t be contender on Top Chef though I do hope to eat in some of the city’s great restaurants or BYOBs.
Both of the trips will be anchored by classes at the University of Chicago’s Graham School, which are open to everyone who chooses to register. On September 20, I’ll lead a Saturday afternoon seminar called “France and America: Wine Politics and a Tasting Showdown.” We will talk about themes from my upcoming book, Wine Politics, and then have a wildly fun, blind and competitive tasting of wines from the two countries. The wine budget for these events is good and in the past we have had some excellent mature wines in a variety of sizes. All participants will receive a signed copy of the book as part of the enrollment. Details and registration.
On December 6, we’ll be talking and tasting holiday wines in another Saturday seminar. This time the discussion will be centered around my second wine book, “A Year of Wine,” which will be published in November by Simon & Schuster. As with the September event, the wines will be fun and participants will receive a signed copy of this book too. Details and registration.
Although this may seem like eons from now, apparently we get a nicer room if signups are strong early. So sign up! See you there!
Last week was the final session of my six-week NYU wine class. The grouping of people was very fun and hopefully everyone is a little more wine savvy.
One of the things that I do in the class is poll people on whether they like each wine. They’re free to love them or hate them and we generally have some fence-sitters too. Some people love certain wines (“smell the terroir!”) that are hated by others (“smells like terroir!”). Oddly enough, the expensive wines are not always the most popular since they have either too much individuality or too much conformity to please everyone.
But some wines are unanimously enjoyed. Below is a list of those wines. Incidentally, I poured about 35 wines (blind) spanning many places and styles. One week I was away on parental leave and recruited Mollie Battenhouse to help me out. Mollie, the former sommelier at Tribeca Grill and a candidate for the Master of Wine (all she has left is her dissertation), is starting her own wine business in NYC that is a first of its kind. More on that on a future date…To the wines! Read more…
Buckle your seat belts for more wine classes in 2008! And should I tell you to stow you tray table and bring the back of your seat to a full and upright position?
Well, you might not have to get on a plane, but I do. On February 23, I’ll be offering a seminar at UC Berkeley. It’s a non-degree, non-credit (too bad!) program and all are welcome to enroll. Over four hours, we’ll swirl, sniff and discuss the topic of just how natural wine is in a seminar entitled “Red, White and Green wine: can you taste the difference?” We will blind taste several pairs of wines, comparing organic and conventional and see if you can taste the difference (no advance knowledge of wine appreciation is necessary). Saturday, February 23, 1:00 – 5:00 PM. Further details and registration now online. I hope to see you there! I hasten to point out that this same class is 25% less expensive than when I offered a similar course at the University of Chicago last spring–a rare discount in California?!
Registration is also open for my next six week class at NYU, Becoming a Wine Expert. This course has enrollment limited to 25 because of venue size–the wood-paneled Torch Club. Last time the wait list was 75, most of whom were probably trying to get into Richard Brown’s Movies 101 course but clicked the wrong box or something. Feb 27 – April 9 Details and registration.
And look for more one-session classes in 2008!
Thanks to all of you who came out and packed the beautiful room at Astor Center on Friday. It was a great time and fun to see so many participants from my NYU classes of semesters gone by. Many people won prizes! The wines were tasty. But since not all blog readers could fit in the 36 seats, here was our lineup of wintry wines:
1. Col Vetoraz, Prosecco NV. Light, fun, bubbly and $13 (find this wine). A good party wine especially when the party is about things other than the wine.
2. Domaine de la Pepiere, “Granite de Clisson,” Muscadet 2005 (about $20; find this wine). Marc Ollivier is a leading quality producer in this region. This particular bottling is an effort that sees a lot of time on the lees (dead yeast cells that are natural), which gives it more richness than his $9 bottling, which is great for summer since it is more zingy.
3. Saxon Brown Semillion, Casa Santinamaria 2006 ($27; find this wine. A field blend from an old vineyard in Sonoma. It’s a wonderful example of a an aromatically intense wine that is unoaked and people liked the acidity on the palate. Goes great with brown sugar baked ham, I would imagine.
4. Joguet, “Les Petites Roches,” Chinon 2005 (find this wine). Quite tannic so probably needs at least a year in the cellar. Nonetheless, it was good to show an example of tannins in the mouth. Good fruit and good acidity save the wine — one participant remarked how the piave cheese really improved it. Yay, it gets better with food!
5. Rene Rostaing, Cuvee Clasique, Cote-Rote 2004 ($50; find this wine). From this “legend” of the Cote-Rotie, this wine from the syrah grape was subtle and restrained in classic (classique?) old world style. Paired well with the epoisse.
6. Broc Cellars Syrah, Dry Stack Vineyard 2004 ($30; find this wine). I wanted a wine to contrast with the Rostaing and this Broc fit the bill nicely. Quite modern in style, it helped show the difference of new oak on the same grape. In a rough poll, the Rostaing edged this one out by a narrow margin.
7. Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage 2000 port. ($19; find this wine) This wine really was a big surprise–people loved it! They thought it was in the $40 – $60 range so when I told them it was under $20, I had to restrain them from stampeding for the port section. Paired it with a Stilton.
Look for more one evening events in 2008! And I hope to see you there!
This just in. Any thoughts?
I’m interested in attending Dr. Vino’s holiday wine picks at the new Astor Center, this Friday, Dec. 14th. Can you tell me how many men usually attend? And are there mostly singles there? If so, what’s the age range?
Two tickets left for purchase. See many of you there!
Friday, Dec 14, 6:30 – 8:00 PM, 23 E. 4th Street (at Lafayette, above Astor Wine & Spirits)