Tuesday, June 29, 2010

True Patriot Love...

It's been a few days since my last post, and my business partner and I have been racking our brains coming up with some agency names. So, alas I am taking it to the people (all 3 of you!). Some options have included:

... Copper Wine & Spirits - copper being a symbolic representation of Ottawa and the area (parliament buildings, churches, etc)

... Rideau Wine & Spirits or St.Lawrence Wine & Spirits - the Rideau River or the St.Lawrence River, again symbolic of the region

... Tuesday Wine & Spirits - do all wines have to be enjoyed on the weekend? No! In honour of the Tuesday night wine!

Some honourable mentions included:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What Kind of Wine Do You Drink at Breakfast?

My faith in the good 'ole last minute cram session is still true and strong... I received my marks from last week's Grape Varities exam, and I actually did better than I had thought. In addition to the exam review, last night's class focused on the Tempranillo, Zinfandel /Primativo, and Pinotage grape varieties. In this class, not only do we learn about where these grapes are grown, how they’re cultivated and the best winemaking techniques for each; we also learn about the origins of each grape – like how Pinotage is a cross between the Pinot Noir and Cinsault grapes… now a popular South African variety.

The highlight of the evening (for me) was the final tasting of Pinotage wines.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Wine That Changed It All

I wrote my Grape Varieties mid-term exam last night, which will account for 50% of my final mark. Nothing like going big or going home. In addition to the written component, there were 3 blinded wines to taste. I nailed 2 of the 3: Chardonnay (I went with my first instinct and got it right - yahoo!) and Cabernet Sauvignon. I messed up the Pinot Noir by calling it a Merlot… although I’m hoping to get marks for my tasting notes. (as a side note, I actually made the same mistake in my very first tasting test back in January. Damn you, Pinot Noir! I liken myself to a lab rat that keeps shocking itself more than its peers before it learns NOT to do that ever again). I fully believe that I will one day come to appreciate the little PN grape that causes so many headaches for winemakers and blind tasters around the world.

Now that I have both of these recent exams behind me, I am excited about my next wine venture… this Saturday I plan to attend a day-long course on how to import wine and essentially become a wine agent. This isn’t part of the Sommelier program, but something that I am passionate about pursuing, and the history of it goes something like this…

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Useless Facts & Party Tricks

Let me first start by saying: I’m DONE my vinification course! It was a fascinating and challenging course, and nothing short of intense (in a really good way!). I actually re-grew that writer’s bump on my middle finger, reminiscent of my high-school and university days from the serious amount of note-taking I did for 8 hours straight every Saturday.

For any of you planning to take a Sommelier certification, regardless of where you take the program, you will have to take a vinification course of some sort. The school that I’m attending (http://www.sommelier.ca/) suggests that students take the course fairly early on in the program, which I’ve done, and I would have to agree… it really gives a solid foundation from which to build a deeper knowledge about the specific wine regions needed for subsequent courses.

In addition to learning how grapes are grown and ultimately crushed into wine – including the gazillion different soil types; how grapes are planted, maintained, and harvested; the various ways of crushing, soaking, macerating, fermenting, and filtering wine; and how to age and cellar the elixir … I also learned some interesting (and possibly useless) facts:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Always Go With Your First Instinct

I’m still a little frustrated with myself from last Saturday. Saturday had been my third class and second exam in this “intense” Vinification course – and by “intense” I mean a year’s worth of material crammed into 4 Saturdays. Let me tell you, hauling my butt to an all-day class on a sunny Saturday takes will-power. Fortunately, I get to sample anywhere from 15-20 wines throughout the day, so that kind of softens the blow (note: I’ve had to learn the art of spitting… although some of the nicer wines we try do get to go down the hatch!).

So Saturday’s class started with our exam – first the written component, followed by the taste test. While I was still writing my heart away on the written section, the teacher came around to pour one glass of wine… our taste tests on exams are always blinded (so the bottle label is hidden). It was a white wine. My first thought was, “This is clearly a Chardonnay”… not a pale white, but not overly golden either. My next thought was, “putting a Chardonnay in a blind taste testing would be too easy, right?” (As a side note, I never took psychology in school, but somehow always feel the need to psychoanalyze my teachers, and to what level they want to trick us on tests.)