It’s one thing to sit in a classroom and take notes, but it’s a whole other experience when you get to put that knowledge into practice. Of course, we’ve been sampling about 12 wines per week as part or study of various grape varietals, but today in class we were sent on a scavenger hunt of sorts.
Divided up into three groups, our instructor Heath Hiudt gave us a list of four bottles to find in Total Wine – the location of our classroom. On my group’s list were a Riesling and Pinot Gris from Alsace and a Sancerre and Vouvray from Loire Valley. Once we had our list, we had to determine how to best comb through the wine racks to find our bottles.
One great thing about the Vine to Wine class is the practical nature of the course material. For example, we learned there are 148 million bottles produced out of the Alsace region each year, and while that is certainly a fun factoid, we also realized in our scavenger hunt that there were only two shelves of this region’s wine at the store. In addition to wine history tastings notes, we’re also learning about which wines are in demand – whether that’s a result of simple supply and demand or a more unquantifiable “prestige factor.”
We’ve also shifted our focus from grape varietals to prominent regions. I have to say that as a casual wine drinker, I find French labeling laws to be some of the most convoluted and Byzantine rules I’ve ever seen! You can look at a label on a bottle, and it will tell you virtually nothing about the wine inside – that is a knowledge honed through study and familiarity with the wines the regions are known for.
The good news is that we’ve checked France off the list, which is the hardest and most intimidating. Now that it’s behind us, I’m excited to move on to Italy, Spain, Argentina, Australia and my personal favorite – U.S. wines!
You can join Heath for the The Napa Experience!, a two-day California wine excursion August 22-23.