06 June 2015

Weekend Cooking: Learning about Wine

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The Everyday Guide to Wine / Great Courses It's no secret that Mr. BFR and I have a glass of wine almost every night. So you'd think that would have learned a little something about wine through the years Well, you'd be mostly wrong.

Well, let me rephrase that. We have learned a little something; we just haven't learned a lot. My father was fairly knowledgeable, and I counted on him to answer my questions and to make recommendations.

Thus when I saw that The Great Courses was having a huge sale, I jumped at the chance to get their "Everyday Guide to Wine" class for a rock-bottom price.

If you haven't heard of The Great Courses, you should take a moment to explore their site. I've listened to and watched a handful of their classes over the years, and I've never been disappointed. There are sixteen programs related to food, drink, and nutrition and there are hundreds of others covering history, culture, art, music, literature . . . you name it. I recommend them.

Now, back to "The Everyday Guide to Wine." The host of this 24-lecture course is Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, who is one of the few Masters of Wine in the world (there are only 26 in the United States). Not only does she know her stuff but she is well spoken and not even a little bit snobby. She is equally at home talking about the necessary vocabulary and the particulars of winemaking as she is describing the distinct characteristics of specific wines.

I've already watched the first two videos (the introduction to the course and an introduction to wine tasting). This weekend's video is titled "Winemaking from Vineyard to Harvest." According to the course guide (a downloadable booklet), I'll be learning about the various factors that affect the vines (climate, altitude, latitude, diseases) and other aspects of growing wine grapes.

As part of the third lesson, I'll be tasting and comparing two wines made with the same grapes but grown in different environments. The first is a Chablis Appellation Controlee and the second is a South Australian Chardonnay. Oh darn, I have to open wine to get the most out of this class! Next time it'll be both whites and reds.

Sound fun? It does to me. I've been taking notes and enjoying putting what I've learned to use. Although I'll buy many of the suggested wines to taste, I'm not sure I'll get them all (for example the fortified wines). I'll let you know in a few months if I've stuck with the class.

Have you ever taken a wine class? Do you consider yourself knowledgeable about wine?


JoAnn 6/6/15, 6:48 AM  

We enjoy our wine here, too, and are big fans of The Teaching Company. This course sounds perfect!

bermudaonion 6/6/15, 6:59 AM  

That does sound fun! I would be interested in tasting two wines made from the same grapes like that. I'm off to check out Great Courses.

Molly 6/6/15, 8:16 AM  

I checked out this series from the local library about two years ago. It is SO much information to glean at one time though... so I should probably review the course again this year.

Enjoy the studies - and the tastings :)

rhapsodyinbooks 6/6/15, 8:58 AM  

I like learning about wine, but I still am a sucker for a cute label rather than a recommended taste! (but I would deny it if anyone accused me of that!)

Joy 6/6/15, 9:18 AM  

This sounds like a great Great Course! I enjoy their catalog of classes, too.

We have a nephew in the wine business, so we're pretty lazy about learning on our own -- we just ask Andrew!

Katherine P 6/6/15, 9:55 AM  

I'm not a big wine drinker but this does sound fun! I'm even more intrigued by Great Courses. That definitely sounds like something I'd enjoy and I'm so glad to hear that you've enjoyed your other classes from them. Have fun with your tasting!

Kay 6/6/15, 10:21 AM  

I'm not a wine drinker either, but I do appreciate your enthusiasm and I also know those Great Courses are well, great. LOL

We carried a bunch of them at the branch of the library where I worked and they were constantly checked out. I saw that sale on Audible, but didn't pick up any this time around. Maybe next time. Enjoy your wine education!

jama 6/6/15, 11:16 AM  

That course sounds like so much fun. What great "homework."
I'll have to check the website to see what other courses are being offered.

Anonymous,  6/6/15, 11:32 AM  

I got to take a short wine appreciation class when I was working as a reporter - drinking on the job! And I don't remember much about it except that we got to taste at least eight different types of wine. Haven't heard of the Great Courses but this one sure sounds fun!

Roberta Gibson 6/6/15, 12:38 PM  

Sounds like an interesting course. I know someone who might enjoy it a lot, so I'll let them know.

I'm taking a class this summer, too. I find taking classes always stretches me in some way that I didn't expect.

Claudia 6/6/15, 12:39 PM  

You've got to enjoy a course that involves wine tasting! I make various wines, but don't consider myself a wine expert by any means. I don't have the necessary palate. We are lucky enough to have a great wine shop in town with a very knowledgeable owner, and I get my recommendations from him mostly.

Anonymous,  6/6/15, 6:55 PM  

This sounds like my type of book. I love wine, but I'm so clueless about the different varieties and how to tell good wine from mediocre wine. They all taste the same at some point.

Marlissa 6/6/15, 9:27 PM  

This looks like a great course! I've not tried any of the DVD Great Courses, but we like the audio courses for road trips. Audible has a good selection (though not this one), so if you have credits to spend it can be a very good deal (even apart from the recent sale).

Carole 6/6/15, 11:00 PM  

I'm a chardonnay girl myself! Cheers from Carole's cahtter

(Diane) bookchickdi 6/7/15, 7:39 AM  

My post this weekend is wine-themed too. We stayed at the Epicurean Hotel in Tampa, I think you'd like it.

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 6/7/15, 11:57 AM  

I am harvesting chives this year. Different from last year where I only let one growing take place. Starting with this vinegar, next recipe or idea? Who knows, she said with a smile! PS thanks for hosting.

Bree 6/7/15, 3:43 PM  

Thanks for sharing about Great Courses. Seems like a great idea. I am a wineoholic and look forward to your update about course. Being a server, I've been through many in-house wine trainings as well as outside wine tastings but I would love to attend a hard-core in-person wine class.

Heidenkind 6/8/15, 12:32 AM  

That does sound interesting, actually. The people in my writers' group have mentioned The Great Courses, but I haven't been interested in checking them out until now!

Traci 6/8/15, 1:37 PM  

I love wine! I recently became a fan of Jacob's creek. Do you guys know if there's a way to identify a wine by it's label. I mean the actual picture. I cannot remember the name of a sweet white wine that was made in Georgia. I can only remember the picture.

Beth F 6/8/15, 1:42 PM  

@Trig: I sure wish I could help you out. I don't know if I've ever had a wine made in Georgia.

Amanda 6/12/15, 7:30 AM  

This sounds like an absolutely fascinating read. I'm very picky about wine, but can't really name (too well) my reasons for what I like/dislike.

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