This week’s class had no cooking involved, or at least not for us. Chef Carol and Beth, her assistant, cooked and plated everything for us students. Our instructor was J.B. Severin, one of the many experts from The Wine House in Los Angeles, my favorite place to go for wine tasting classes, wine events and, of course, buying wine.
There were also bottles of 2010 Riff Pinot Grigio, 2009 Fog Crest Chardonnay and 2011 Willi Shaefer Estate Riesling Feinherb (this means half dry).
The reds included 2010 Ruffino Aziano Chianti, 2009 Mondavi Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and 2007 Taylor LBV (Late Bottled Vintage) Port. There was quite the array of flavors, colors and textures in this group!
J.B. went over The Aroma Wheel (see photo) with us. You start in the center and work your way out to help figure out what flavors you’re tasting. The flavors will get subtler as you get towards the outside. I actually have a small copy of this in my purse and often take it out to play with when I’m drinking a new wine. I was worried that some people might think that is silly or amateurish, but everyone loves it and wants a copy!
We started the tasting by working with the wines themselves to get a sense of their personalities. Making a long story short, and hopefully using “wine language” correctly, I found the Roederer nice and dry and the Pinot Grigio very light with a short aftertaste. I found the Chardonnay very heavy, oak-y and long lasting (not one of my favorites) and the Riesling tasted “dusty” (I used the wine wheel) and a bit sweet.
The Chianti was very acidic and short. J.B. assured us that it goes well with food. The Mondavi Cabernet wasn’t super heavy and was typical of this wine from Napa Valley. The Port was actually really nice and is only about $16 per bottle! This is because Taylor makes this Port like a “true” vintage wine, but in very large barrels. After a few years, they bottle it. Because there’s so much of it and the grapes are usually from off years, they can sell it for a reasonable amount. I found that really interesting.