Happenings at WWA (and beyond)
A collection off WWA event recaps, job postings, interesting articles, DC area events, wine industry happenings, and more. Bloggers will include WWA employees, event attendees, and students.
Ever attend one of WWA’s 1 hour classes and liked it so much that you wanted to learn more? The WSET Level 2 class takes the art of winemaking another step up! As a wine novice who practically fell into the wine industry by accident, I was eager to learn more about how wine works. Instructor Tom Finigan presented the material in a way which was easy enough to understand yet still rich in information. Because the course is jam packed with information I could go on for days with all the knowledge that I gained, but instead I will just present you with a few of the most exciting things I learned along with my favorite wines we tasted. If these wine tidbits are of interest to you, I highly encourage you to look into taking the class yourself! What could be better than learning more about wine and gaining a certification to make it official all at once?!
Five Most Interesting Insights:
1. The more sugar a wine contains the higher the alcohol content.
2. In general, although there are exceptions to every rule, white wines smell of citrus, green fruits, stone fruits, and tropical fruits; whereas red wines have hints of red fruits, black fruits, and dried fruits.
3. Europe (aka the Old World) has rather strict regulations on winemaking and wine production in order to maintain consistency and quality. For instance, irrigation is banned in Europe and they have to restrict their harvest to stay under mandated yield limits.
4. The human tongue tastes texture, not flavor, other senses are responsible for picking up on flavor.
5. In the U.S. winemakers have to pay significantly more per bottle if their wine is labeled with 15+% Alc, and that is why many wines higher in alcohol will be marked at 14.9% to avoid extra charges.
Five Favorite Wines:
1. Folie a Deux Chardonnay 2010 (Russian River Valley, California)
2. Angeline Pinot Noir 2011 (California)
3. Vincent Moray Chardonnay 2010 (Burgandy, France)
4. Lucashof Riesling 2011 (Pfalz, Germany)
5. Ponga sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Marlborough, NZ)
Last week Nikki and I sat in on the week long intensive WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) Level 2 Intermediate course taught by instructor Tom Finigan.
This course not only opened my eyes to the intricacies and complexities of the wine world, but it also allowed me to sharpen my palate and increase my sensitivity to wine quality and components. Despite the barrage of information, I never felt intimidated by the subject matter because Tom lectured in an accessible, approachable manner.
The most memorable aspect of this course was learning about the different wine producing regions all over the world. I am passionate about traveling and learning as much as I can about the world, so I was fascinated by the ways wine is produced and viewed in different countries. There was so much I didn’t know! For instance, I always knew that French wine was de bon qualité but I had never even considered South Africa or New Zealand to be wine countries as well. I began thinking about wine in a whole new way, and now I can associate different types of wine with different regions of the world.
We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to taste wines from all over the globe. One of my favorite wines was the Folie a Deux Chardonnay 2010 from Russian River Valley, California. I know I know, it’s not a super-hip wine from a tiny village on an island off the coast of Chile—but it’s delicious and refreshing and I loved it!
Wine-sniffing goes hand in hand with wine tasting, and I quickly discovered that I am a terrible wine-sniffer. Embarrassingly, I thought that quite a few of the wines had bacon-y undertones (wishful thinking). But as the classes continued I learned how to isolate the scents that were actually present in the wines. For example, I can now discern the scent differences between tropical fruit, red fruit, and purple fruit in wine! I considered taking myself out to a celebratory dinner afterwards.
Despite starting at 9:00AM, this class was interesting and engaging throughout. I certainly learned a lot, and I recommend this class for all wine beginners with an interest in expanding their knowledge and their palate. Who knew wine could taste so delicious before noon?
So I am one of the largest proponents out there of “unusual” varieties- I was that 21 year old, just discovering wine and draining my local wine shop of new, crazy bottles that I had never heard of. Of course, at that point, I considered Tempranillo and Torrontes to be exotic and, to many, that is certainly still the case. But in WSET level 2 world, at least the way WWA teaches it, students certainly taste those grapes and many more because they are so historically/economically/socially/etc important to their regions.
NOT to say that the following grapes aren’t important to their respective areas- conversely they usually are- but in the limited amount of time we have to teach and, more importantly, the limited number of wines we can taste, these wines might not otherwise make the cut. So, I hope you enjoyed them, new WSET students- that is, once you overcame the intimidation of the Systematic Approach to Tasting.
Castelo Verdejo 2010/Rueda, Spain
Elena Walch Pinot Bianco 2010/Alto Adige, Italy
Le Rocher des Violettes Chenin Blanc 2008/Loire Valley, France
Saint Cosme Viogner/Roussanne/Marsanne/Picpoul de Pinet 2010/ Cotes du Rhone, France
Averoldi Groppello 2009/ Lombardy, Italy
Jefferson Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2009/ Monticello, VA
Altano Tinta Roriz/Touriga Franca 2008/ Douro, Portugal
Valckenberg Dornfelder 2009/ Rheinhessen, Germany