See GMG post for the first installment of “Become a Wine Expert.”
Last week I unfortunately had to miss the third class in the series “Become a Wine Expert,” taught by Kathleen Morgan, as I had to give a lecture that had long been scheduled. Fortunately, Kathleen has generously invited me to take the red wine class with her next series of classes, which I gladly accept and plan to report about for GMG!
Renee Hansen and Geoff Rendall
This week’s class was very interesting in that we compared the same wine, but with different variables such as tasting wines served in different shaped glasses, wines that had been decanted versus not decanted, and wines that were chilled versus the same wines unchilled. We discussed how the wine’s vintage is critical as different years produce different results—how could it not as grapes are an agricultural product? I often find this frustrating when purchasing wine (not at Savour, of course) because the description placed next to the bottle of the wine on display does not usually match the vintage on the bottle offered for sale.
Most red wines benefit from decanting, although with some, like Pinot Noir, it is not recommended because the grape is too variable. Chianti in particular should almost always be decanted because it is very heavy in tannins. Kathleen typically decants Chianti for one full day, although most wines need only several hours. We tried the Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico 2009 ($22.99), both decanted and not, and the difference was more than remarkable (the decanted being the far more enjoyable of the two).
Syrah wine glass, above, and to the right.
Wine enthusiasts often collect many different shaped glasses for different types of wines. I asked Kathleen if you were planning to only purchase one style what would she recommend. She suggests a tulip-shaped Syrah glass, with a thin crystal edge, and sturdy columnar stem. Thinner crystal for the edge of the glass is always preferable to thick glass as the glass imbues flavor as well.
When bringing your own wine to a restaurant, Kathleen recommends keeping it properly chilled. This wine bottle cooler pack sold at Savour would make a practical and inexpensive holiday gift. Kathleen uses a charming trunk-inspired carry case (see below).
More great gifts available from Savour are their beautiful selection of decanters. I loved the elegant flagon decanters and think that they would make a very thoughtful hostess or Christmas present–decanters such as these would add a touch of grace to any table setting.
On the left is the duck decanter and to the right is the flagon decanter.
Kathleen’s favorite decanter is the very hefty rooster decanter, for a very touching reason. You may or may not recall that the original Savour Wine and Cheese, located on Washington Street, tragically burned to the ground several years ago. With all the destruction and mayhem associated with the aftermath of a fire, one of the very few things to survive was her rooster decanter–filled with blackened water–but nonetheless unscathed.
Michelle demonstrates how weighty the rooster decanter feels.
The “Become a Wine Expert” series of classes are held on five consecutive evenings, from 7:00 to 9:00, at Savour Wine and Cheese, located at 76 Prospect Street. She is planning to do another series possibly this winter or spring. Kathleen provides each student with a terrific notebook with maps from every wine producing country and region, articles, recommended books and links, descriptions of wine varietals, an interesting wine aroma wheel for describing wines, and more.
To learn more about Kathleen’s interest in wine (she also has a PHD in history) see Joe’s Good Morning Gloucester interview with Kathleen here.