The French are Phenomenal

Every now and then, I get so caught up in what is new and hip in wine, I forget about the classics which is a huge reason why I am so excited to be teaching and Wine & Beverage Management Class at East Carolina University this semester.

Wine is so ever-changing, and I am completely amazed by the new varietals I have never heard of coming to play at our restaurant’s dinner table.  Call me ADD, but I love to change courses when it comes to all beverages, and it ain’t no big thing for me to have a Chimay Rouge followed by a glass of Rose and then a shot of grappa.  Just kidding on the grappa, I don’t care for my throat to catch on fire.

Anyhoo, because of this Wine & Beverage 101 class I am teaching, I have to begin with the fundamentals of wine, and there is no argument for me that you have to begin in France.  Now keep in mind the course is 12 weeks, and in that very short amount of time, I have to cover the entire world of wine as well as beer and spirits and wine & food pairing, my very favorite  of course, as it is tres subjective.

So, here I begin to break down France in two classes, one held for the white wines and one held for the reds.

Because technology is so ever advancing, and I missed the train a long time ago, while I re-familiarize myself with the vins de France while learning Blackboard, a tool the university uses to upload powerpoint presentations and any other valuable information the needs to have to make an A in the course.  If I could figure it out, I would upload the Powerpoints to my blog as I was quite impressed with my presentations.

While teaching the course on white wines, I chose to highlight four major regions:  Alsace, the Loire Valley, Burgundy and Bordeaux.  As part of the class, we tasted a Riesling and a Gewurztraminer from Alsace; a Pouilly Fume and a Vouvray from the Loire; a village Chablis from Burgundy; and an Entre Deux Mers and a Sauternes from Bordeaux. It was quite fun to go back to these wines I know well but taste rarely, only because I am intent on tasting a grapes I haven’t tasted before as opposed to the timeless classics.

Shame on me, I might add, as these wines, just like Kirsten Dunst, never go out of style.  O.K.  so maybe Kirsten is a little young, so think U2 or Dave Matthews Band.

All of the wines were distinct and beautiful in their own special way.  The Alsatian Riesling was fat and appley while the Gewurztraminer smelled like roses.  The Pouilly Fume was yellow grapefruit mixed with white chalk and the Vouvray tasted like baked apples and chamomile.  The Chablis was steely yet powerful and the Entre Deux Mers smelled like Parmesan Cheese Rind and orange zest.  We ended on a sweet note with the Sauternes that was like nectar from the gods of wine.

More fun than anything was tasting with 35 undergrads who were tasting these wines for the first time.  They gave me new descriptors, and they asked me questions in regards to winemaking where I had to say, “I’ll get back to you on that one.”

It was a wonderful experience that got me excited about the red wines of France…more to come on that class in my next blog…..coming soon.

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