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Introduction to Wine and Tasting Opportunities
Terry Sullivan

There are several opportunities to take an introduction to wine and a wine tasting class. These classes may be offered at local wineries, restaurants, wine shops or community colleges.

Community College Class

My wife and I attended an Introduction to Wine class at our local community college. The class was held on two consecutive Wednesday evenings for three hours each evening. We were instructed to bring wine glasses, water, salt-free crackers and napkins to class. The instructor provided the wines. On the first evening we tasted ten domestic wines, five whites and five reds. The second evening we tasted international wines again five whites followed by five reds.

Instruction the first evening centered on vocabulary related to viniculture and the wine making process. Our instructor demonstrated the proper way to conduct a wine tasting and presented a 100-point scoring rubric. As we tasted wines we discussed what we saw, smelled and tasted, and filled out the scoring rubric.

We examined different aromas on the second evening. Our instructor passed around six vials that we were to smell and identify. This was more difficult than it sounds. There were no identification marks on the bottles and the best score in the class was three out of six vials correctly identified. Your sense of smell and taste is an acquired talent that can improve with practice. Learning what types of aromas are looked for in wine makes the whole experience of wine tasting interesting.

Some time was spent interpreting wine bottle labels. If you are interested in wine, it is important to learn how to read label on wine bottles. The laws regarding wine labels and what must be on them vary by country. Some labels can tell you: grape varietal, country, vineyard, vintage, alcohol content and more.

Although instructed to taste and spit, the vast majority of participants swallowed the wine. As the instructor indicated, we were paying for the class and if we wanted to enjoy the taste we could swallow. If they did not like the wine they would empty their glass in a dump bucket. The instructor always used the dump bucket.

This introductory class taught us wine vocabulary and a systematic approach to wine tasting and scoring. As one becomes accustom to wine vocabulary, it helps in identifying what wine connoisseurs look for in a good wine. We also learned about the alcohol content of wines and the issue of sulfites in wine. For anyone who is interested in learning about wine, this was a good beginning class. One learned that there is much more to wine than just the artistic label on the bottle.


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