This is week three of my WSET wine certificate class and, as you can imagine, I have been doing a lot of wine tasting. Each class consists of a lecture followed by a tasting of about six or seven wines that demonstrate what we have covered. We then write out tasting notes and share our thoughts; is it dry, off-dry, or sweet? How is the body, acidity, and the tannins? Can you taste stone fruits, black fruits, or red fruits? Any Vanilla, or wet leaves? All of these things combine help us conclude the quality and the expected price of the wine. It would be a interesting game if I were not in the presents of classmates who already knew a thing or two about wine. Out of a class of about forty students, half are already in the wine business, a great many more are sommeliers, and for the rest learning about wine has been their passionate hobby. Then there's me, a Brooklyn peasant who, up until a few weeks ago, did not know that Sancerre is not a grape variety but a village in France where Sauvgnon Blanc is grown. How silly am I? (that would be sarcasm).
Alright, so perhaps this does not make me a simpleton however, it does leave me a few significant strides behind the pack. Interestingly enough, the area in which I feel most deficient is in identifying the bouquet of each wine. It is not as though I don't recognize the aromas, on the contrary; with each inhale I am nagged by a familiar, if not several familiar scents. Yet, no matter how hard I try, I remain unable to give a name to each scent until someone yells out "liquorice!" or "hazelnuts!", "Butter and Caramel..." , then I am inclined to agree, "wow, it does taste like hazelnuts!!" To improve upon my shortcoming, I have devised a plan : I have decided to catalogue all the interesting smell I encounter throughout my day in hopes that it will expand my aroma references. It seems like a silly exercise and even foolish considering I live in a city so full of bad smells, I mean look at the smells I have catalogued thus far,
I hope that not too many of these smells come into play while tasting wine, but if they do, I'll be ready to recognize them.
Outside of class I did have a more down to earth tasting experience to share with you. While knocking back a few Micheladas at Bonita, a nifty and stylish little Mexican restaurant in Fort Green, I was presented with a tasting platter complete with a glass of Tonala Anejo Tequila, roasted sweet potatoes with anise, chili, and cinnamon, sliced oranges, and a glass of sangrita.
The intention was that each accompaniment was to bring out a different flavor component of the tequila, and that it did. The anise and cinnamon in the sweet potatoes toned down the burn of the alcohol, and the swelling of the chili enhanced the smokiness of the aged tequila. YUM! The sangrita (tomato, cucumber, and chili) worked much in the same way, and the orange wedges where a nice finish. This has definitely given me some ideas for Thanksgiving!
Until then I will just have to do my best to keep a good pace with the rest of my classmates, even if it means I have to do more homework then. And since that means tasting more wines, I don't mind if I do.