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Continuing Education

January 29, 2011 Friends, Fun No Comments

It’s no secret that I love wine.

Lucky for me, I live within a couple of hours from world-renowned wine regions — Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, California’s Central Coast. Yet even after countless visits to wine country with tastings and tours and sips (I almost never spit), I don’t know much about it.

Here’s what I know: I like red wine better than white. I like Syrah/Shiraz and Zinfandel best, but a good red table wine or blend is my go-to “daily drinker.” Actually, what I think I know about wine is mostly about me… But wait! I know that in these parts, harvest is in early fall. I know this because that’s when all the crush parties are.

Here’s what I don’t know: What differences there are between grapes grown in cool climates versus warm climates. How to tell the difference between a thin-skinned grape and thick-skinned grape. How to pair wine with food. And about a zillion other relevant things.

It was somewhat by chance that I ended up with friends who enjoy wine as much as I do. For your information, I met most of my friends at the dog park. Not at a bar. And it just-so-happens that none of us is especially well-versed in the mechanics of a good (or bad) bottle of wine. We are taking it upon ourselves to learn!

We enrolled in “The Everyday Guide to Wine” from The Great Courses. Have you heard of this company? It sells “correspondence courses” for continuing education. In most cases, you get a stack of DVDs and a guide book and you just follow along. In the case of the wine course, we are also responsible for purchasing the appropriate wines for each lecture. (This is why embarking on this class with friends was a good idea: split the cost and the bottles!)

We have had two classes so far and my head is already swimming with terminology and things to remember. I promise — it wasn’t because of the wine we drank! We started with a Chablis and Chardonnay, and I drank less than a full glass of each. I plan on making flash cards to help me identify the tasting points the next time I’m at a wine bar. I’m going by the book with the 5 S’s of wine tasting: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, and Savor. Interesting that Snobbery isn’t one of them, eh?? Regardless, it should be a fun course — and very educational at the same time!

As we coordinated drinking sessions lessons, one of the members dubbed the class VINO: Vinotherapy Institute for Noteworthy OverDrinkers. Admittedly, we got a few eye rolls from our husbands when we revealed our latest excuse to get together and drink a bunch of wine… But it’s all in the name of education!

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