A Lesson from Boston Wine School

We wanted to give you a glimpse inside our 4 week World Tour of Wine at the Boston Wine School. For four Tuesdays in October, class convened in Allston. Each week we received a lesson plan and tasting booklet with information about the regions being discussed and the wines being tasted.

  • Week 1: Campania-Chianti, Provence, Languedoc, and the Rhone
  • Week 2: the Rhine, Loire Valley, and Spain
  • Week 3: Burgundy-Beaujolais, Bordeaux, and Portugal
  • Week 4: New Worlds

When tasting wine, we were taught to follow the Seven S’s…

  1. See
  2. Sniff
  3. Swirl
  4. Smell
  5. Sip
  6. Swish
  7. Spit

And the unofficial eighth S, Slow Down! Take the time to savor and enjoy a glass of wine.

We learned that pressed grape juice contains Sugar + Acid + H2O. In order to make wine, Yeast is added because Sugar + Yeast creates Alcohol.

Wine is therefore a mixture of Alcohol + Acid + H20.

To further complicate things, Alcohol + Acid is known as an Ester. This combination of alcohol and acid produces aromatic compounds that give a wine its aroma and flavor. Nothing is ever added to wine to make it smell or taste like certain things (berries, citrus fruits, etc). Esters are responsible for the fun array of flavors that you’ll notice while sipping and swishing a glass of wine.

Most wines tend to be categorized as dry or sweet.  Dry wines have more tannins, a compound found in the seeds, skin, and stems of grapes. Usually red wines contain more tannins than white wines because red wine is produced using all of the parts of the grape. It’s helpful to expose red wine to air before drinking, either by decanting the bottle or simply swirling your glass. This allows the dry, tannic wine to become re-oxidized and softens the flavors. You can also soften a dry red wine by serving it with red meat or strong cheese. Tannins in the wine will bind with the proteins in the meat or cheese, also softening the flavor.

There are some major differences between Old World Wines from places where wine making has been around for centuries and New World Wines in which wine making has only gone on for several decades.

  • Old World Wines taste earthy, like dried fruit, while New World Wines taste like fresh ripe fruit.
  • Old World Wines are often blends of grapes while New World Wines are 100% varietals.
  • Old World Wines feature old, traditional labels while New World Wines take full advantage of modern marketing.
  • Old World Wines focus on tradition and formality while New World Wines are interested in invention and innovation.

Here are some of our favorite wines that we sampled, from both the Old World and New World, reds and whites, sweet and dry. What can we say? We just love wine!

  • 2007 Vidal-Fleury Cotes du Rhone (France)
  • NV Domaine Collin Crémant de Limoux “Cuvée Tradition” Brut (France)
  • 2009 Clos de la Lysardiere Chinon (France)
  • 2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle “Horse Heaven Vineyard” Sauvignon Blanc (Washington)
  • 2008 Esporão Vinho Tinto Reserva (Portugal)
  • 2009 Willm Riesling Réserve (France)
  • 2010 Monte Velho Vinho Branco (Portugal)
  • 2007 Chateau Chateau Skulls Grenache-Mourvedre (Australia)
  • 2010 Agua de Piedra “Gran Reserva” Malbec (Argentina)
  • 209 Girard “Old Vine” Zinfandel (California)

We had such a wonderful experience at the Boston Wine School and are already planning our return. Perhaps we’ll try the Burgers and Bordeaux class next! A big thank you to Jonathon for sharing his vast knowledge and generosity.

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend the World Tour of Wine course at the Boston Wine School in exchange for writing about our experience. All thoughts and opinions conveyed here are our own.

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