Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Wine, Deconstructed

I attended my first wine class last night at Gentile's wine shop, also the home of our favorite pizza in Columbus. My companion asked me if I had learned anything "cool" about wine, and after I thought about it, I realized that I'm far too uninformed about wines to be attending the kind of class where you learn something "cool." Last night was all about the basics. For instance:
  • "Old world" wines (Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany, France) are named after their point of origin (Bordeaux, Champagne, etc.) whereas "new world" wines (U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand) are named after the type of grape (pinot, shiraz, merlot, etc.)
  • You should drink most wines within three years; reds generally last longer than whites. What to make of those bon vivants who boast about their pre-war bottle of cab franc, stored at the perfect temperature in their cellar? Our instructor had a more crass way of saying it (which I'm opting not to repeat here), but basically: Like Lexuses and McMansions, it's for show.

Other important insight: my olfactory sensibilities are worthless. As we poked our schnozzes into 10 different wines, I smelled buttered toast when I was supposed to smell bing cherry, peach and apricot when I was supposed to smell currant.

I've been working my way through Maureen Christian Petrosky's The Wine Club, and I realized last night how much I've learned from this excellent book, a month-by-month guide to different types of wine (January is all about champagne and other sparklers!) Admittedly part of the reason I like it is that it's written by someone my own age, but I also find her explanations to be quite helpful, and the suggested food pairings (along with recipes!) are spot-on. It's geared toward people who want to start a monthly wine club, but if you ignore the organizing tips there's plenty of other great information.

Petrosky came up with this book idea after her book club morphed into a wine club. That would never happen in my book club because: a)One of our members (and one of my favorite peeps) is Mormon; b)Every month we meet, someone else is pregnant.


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