Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wine Studies

It is a class at the CIA that most students eagerly look forward to and simultaneously dread just a little bit. Wine Studies is hard and I'll be the first one to tell you. I studied more during that class then I think I have for any college class ever, and I have a previous bachelor's degree in Business Management. That said though, it was one of the most interesting subjects I've taken and it bridged a connection between food and drink that I had only ever scratched the surface of before. Wine studies sparked my interest and made studying  more fun than work... and the fact that "studying" sometimes involved drinking wine only had a little bit to do with it ;-)


The class started in the U.S. with New World wines and we made our way through the wine making process, U.S. wine laws and the wine growing regions of California, Washington, Oregon and New York. Each day we tasted 8-12 wines from the region we were currently lecturing on to tie in the actual flavor nuances and terroir specific to the region rather than simply talking about it. From the U.S we traveled to Canada, Argentina, Chile and Austrailia sampling Ice Wine, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz respectively. 


During the wine tastings we recorded notes on color, aroma, body, taste and food pairings for each wine. We were never actually tested on wine identification but the tastings verified the lectures and gave us a frame of reference to study the facts. Studying wine without tasting it would be like studying music without hearing it; wine is truly a discipline that involves all of your senses!


As soon as we started to get the hang of the New World of wine, we started studying France which is literally an entirely different world. The names are different, the rules are different and in some cases the grapes are even different. And just when you think you can't fit any more wine knowledge into your head, Italy, Spain and Portugal come along and prove you wrong again. It was crazy to me to not only learn the differences in the laws and processes of wine making in these countries, but recognize a profound difference in how the wines tasted as well. 


After many hours of tutoring, studying and labeling the 800 page text book, we were rewarded halfway through the class with a four-course meal in the CIA's American Bounty restaurant carefully paired with 8 French wines. 


Together with our professor, we enjoyed a meal of scallops, short ribs, asparagus salad and a brownie sundae. Each course was paired with two different wines  to compare and it was obviously a super enjoyable nice of good food, good wine and good company. Culinarians and bakers take this class together so it was nice to get to have class with other students in our start date and get to know them a little better. 


Tough? Very. But overall Wine Studies was definitely one of my favorite classes here, and I love being able to recognize so many wines now when going out to eat, and knowing how to decipher the labels in a store. A class to look forward to no doubt.