I love wine classes, and I’ll shell out big bucks to hear wine gurus like Kevin Zraly walk me through the basics. To me it’s money well spent. But when I can taste 10-12 wines a night for seven weeks for only $130—that’s the bargain of the wine education world. And that’s the deal I scored (for a second time) out here in Jersey at the Caldwell/West Caldwell Adult School.
Wine classes are great for learning, of course, but also for tasting. I don’t work in a wine shop, for a distributor, or the wine press—and there are only so many bottles I can drink personally. So when our teacher cracks open a chilled bottle of Lillet (this aromatized wine is still a little weird to me) or a 22 year old Leeuwin chardonnay from the Margaret River Valley (a beautiful wine that kept revealing more layers as it opened up), it’s a wake-up call to my palate.
As an introductory first class, we really ran the gamut last night: a Cava (look for 1+1=3—I don’t usually get into Cavas, but this reminded me of Champagne), Riondo Prosecco (always fun at parties: light, sweet, fizzy & inexpensive), and a Peter Lehmann Riesling (a poor example of the varietal from Australia). Reds were represented by a 2003 Chateau Bernadotte from the Haut Medoc (rich & super tannic—I’d save this for a few more years) and, from our teacher’s cellar, a 1999 Robert Mondavi PNX Carneros Pinot Noir (brick red and unfortunately lacking in fruit). We rounded out the evening with both Port and Sherry. Whew!