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Tag Archives: wine education

A college enology class gets its fill of the Wine Curmudgeon

El Centro

The video in this post was part of my appearance on Oct. 3 at a viticulture and enology class at Dallas’ El Centro College, which has one of the best culinary programs in the southwest. I offer wisdom on how to learn about wine, the idea behind cheap wine, and the joy of regional wine — all in less than eight minutes. I also managed to plug The Cheap Wine Book.

The class took 90 minutes, and at the end we tasted six Texas wines. The students were mostly pleased with what they tasted, though there was the usual disagreement that occurs at these sorts of events. One group would like a wine because it was fruity, while another wouldn’t like the same wine because it was fruity. This, as I always point out, is just one reason why wine is so much fun. One can argue and drink wine while arguing.

One other point worth noting: The students were fascinated by the idea of $3 wine, and we spent a fair amount of time discussing whether they were worth drinking. Many of them, as it turned out, were big fans of Aldi’s $3 wines.

El Centro College’s Alex Curran shot and edited the piece, and did a terrific job working with a very awkward Wine Curmudgeon. And did I really say I was one of the leading wine writers in the U.S.? Unfortunately, given when we did the video, he had to use the old website in the montages.

And why don’t I have a hat on? It was raining the day we shot the video, so I didn’t wear one. The legendary Gus Katsigris, who teaches the class and helped start the El Centro culinary program, was very disappointed with me. Gus served Texas wine at his Dallas restaurant in the late 1970s and is one of the true standup guys in the food business, so I should have worn a hat. What are a few water stains among friends?

Easy ways to learn more about wine

image from www.sxc.hu

Yes, she's drinking white wine, but why not try a red?

Wine drinkers are creatures of habit. We tend to drink the same wines and shop in the same places for those wines. Which, frankly, doesn't do much to expand our wine horizons.

This is an especial problem for beginning wine drinkers, whose lack of experience is compounded by the intimidation factor — wine can be a scary place for newcomers, who are overwhelmed with labels, names, terms, and the like.

Hence this post, part of my New Year's resolution to write more items for people just getting started with wine. And a big tip of the Wine Curmudgeon's fedora to Dave McIntyre, who has written about some of this and jarred me into action.

After the jump, four easy things anyone can do to boost their wine savvy:

Winebits 211: New Jersey wine, really expensive wine, wine education

Near the center of the universe: There have been a spate of recent articles, not only in the Winestream Media, but in many big-time consumer publications about New Jersey wine. One of the most recent came from the Wall Street Journal (behind the paywall) which revealed that the Garden State is enjoying a wine renaissance. As a long-time and ardent supporter of regional wine, I'll take the good news anywhere I can get it. But it does seem odd that media like the Journal are suddenly discovering New Jersey wine, which has been around for more than a decade. This can be traced to what some media critics call the center of the universe theory — nothing exists until it has been identified and validated by the most important news outlets in the country. And where are the most important news outlets in the country? In New York City, just a short ride down the New Jersey Turnpike from New Jersy wine country.

Wine prices plummet: Not, of course, for wine we actually drink, but wine the wise guys use to make money — on the Live-ex wine exchange, a stock market for wine. Really. As silly as that sounds. Prices of the 100 top-traded wines fell by an average of 22 1/2 percent between June and December last year – the steepest fall since the beginning of the recession, reports Drinks Business magazine. The reason for the decline, apparently, is a slump in the Chinese market. The link is well worth clicking on, if only because the story is so bizarre. I've been writing about both business and wine for more than 20 years, and I can barely make sense of it. How anyone makes money trading wine is beyond me — ignoring the fact that the point of great wine drinking it.

Too much knowledge? Kris Chislett at Blog Your Wine asks a question that I've asked many times here: Why does the wine business do such a lousy job of wine education? "Sure, I can wax poetically with the best of ‘em about the meso-climates within this one tiny vineyard parcel within the sub-region of a greater region, which has a sandy loam soil and maritime climate. I just don’t think that’s what most people, even the more wine-savvy, can relate to. … I want to help people learn, and I just don’t think that can be achieved by boring them to death with what for the most part is useless wine trivia." Can't argue with that, can we?

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