Meet the Board: Valerie Caruso, FWS, DWS, CWE

Valerie Caruso, FWS, CWE

Valerie Caruso, FWS, CWE

Last August, at our annual conference, SWE welcomed its new Executive Committee and Board of Directors.  While many of our board members have served for quite a few years, there are also some new faces in the group as well.  Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our new board members, Valerie Caruso, FWS, DWS, CWE…and thank her for her service to the Society!

Valerie retired after 25 years in the Air Force and moved to Italy a few months later to study wine at an international hospitality school. It started as a personal travel and learning adventure for a wine lover, but turned into much more. She was only back in the states 90 days before returning to Italy to study advanced Italian, speak on a collaborative book project about Tuscan wines, and then proceeded to another international culinary academy in France.

In 2010 Valerie began doing private tastings for friends and military spouse groups, and the following year started a business doing in-home tastings and while working with direct-to-consumer sales for a Napa winery. It was in 2012 when she discovered the Society of Wine Educators and the CSW program, and also when she started teaching wine tasting classes in Colorado Springs. She credits her first CSW preview that year as the moment that learning bug would formally establish itself as the desire to not only further her own education, but to bring others along for the exciting wine education ride.

Val has since established her own wine education company, Vino With Val, LLC, where she provides customized tastings for private and corporate clients and even organizations and tour groups. In 2015, she launched the Wine Two Five podcast with fellow CWE Stephanie Davis. Together they built a strong wine media presence and brand as well as a worldwide community of engaged listeners who want to be entertained, educated, and empowered as consumers. Val’s time is now largely consumed nearly full-time as executive producer, content writer, and host for the weekly show which can be found on iTunes, IHeartRadio and many other destinations.

After attending the 2014 conference and the CWE preview, Val knew she’d found her wine education home. She has since contributed to SWE’s popular SWEbinar and Certification Summit program as a presenter. Many of the SWE’s own professionals have found their voices warmly welcomed on the Wine Two Five podcast by the listener base to help spread the word as well, and affectionately refers to the friends she’s made at SWE as her “tribe” and believes strongly in the mission and spirit of the organization.

In her time on the board, Val would like to continue to proudly carry (some would say shamelessly promote) the torch of SWE to those who seek quality wine education and community, especially online for those who don’t live in the most restaurant-and study-group-rich locations.  Just as she has for those who have reached out to her for mentoring—particularly veterans who find her online—she is  determined to be instrumental in expanding the study resources for wine learning and contribute to the excellence in the SWE’s educational endeavors.

Welcome, Valerie!

 

Meet the Board: Marc DeMarchena CWE, CSS, CHE

Marc DeMarchena CWE, CSS, CHE - a newly-elected member of the SWE Board of Directors.

Marc DeMarchena CWE, CSS, CHE – a newly-elected member of the SWE Board of Directors.

Last August, at our annual conference, SWE welcomed its new Executive Committee and Board of Directors.  While many of our board members have served for quite a few years, there are also some new faces in the group as well.  Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our new board members, Marc DeMarchena…and thank him for his service to the Society!

Marc DeMarchena CWE, CSS, CHE is a newly-elected member of the SWE Board of Directors. Mark is currently an Associate Professor of Beverage and Dining Services with the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University. During his 18 years as an instructor, Marc has taught a variety of classes, including Foundations of Wine and Spirits, Principles of Beverage Service, Dining Room Supervision, Contract Food Service Management, and Old World Wines.

Many of our members have met Marc throughout his 18 years of involvement with SWE, including our conference speakers who have found Marc to be a true life-saver in his frequent role as our Conference Audio-Visual Liaison.

Marc was lucky enough to spend a few weeks in Bordeaux last summer as part of this third re-accreditation as a Bordeaux Wine Tutor. He describes this journey through Bordeaux, hosted by the L’ École du Vin de Bordeaux, as a “dash between all the subregions visiting and tasting the deliciousness along the way.” He goes on to say that “this captures what I love about wine education.  The connection to the culture—seeing, feeling and tasting how it transcends into our subject matter—is simply fabulous.”

When asked how he sees his role on SWE’s Board of Directors, Marc replied, “My 18-year relationship with the Society has given me so much opportunity to connect to the world of wine. I would like to share that community with future members and help them see the value of our organization’s ability to light their beverage passion. It is pretty amazing to have witnessed the past decade of growth and educational programing that the Society offers. I believe my years managing in the food and beverage business and my time teaching at the university level can bring a combination of skills that will be useful to the Society as we face new opportunities and challenges.”

Welcome, Marc!

 

Guest Post: Moonshine Goes Modern!

Today we have a guest post from Harriet Lembeck, CWE, CSE. Harriet tells us the story of how she came to deliver a lecture of Moonshine for this year’s 40th Annual SWE Conference, and tells us how it went!

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Why Moonshine?

I was recently invited to judge Moonshines for The Fifty Best, an on-line Wine and spirits ratings magazine, whose website gets over 1 million monthly page views. Through the process, I learned that Moonshines are diverse, varied, and so interesting, and I wanted to share this info. Publisher and Founder William Rosenberg was kind enough to give me the contact info for the Gold and Double-Gold medal winning Moonshines, so that I could create this presentation with the best of the examples.

“Moonshine” is a catchall name for un-aged white whiskies, usually distilled from corn. As I learned from going through the 14 that we tasted at the Conference, contrary to that casual definition, some Moonshine happens to be aged, and others aren’t even made with corn!

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According to David Fleming, Executive Editor of Market Watch, Impact and Shanken News Daily, demand for Moonshine leveled off in 2014 after an initial rise in 2012. While the big spirits brands may be leveling off, there is no drop in enthusiasm from the top players, and also the smaller producers. Many are going upscale, playing to sophisticated tastes, and trying to lose the “hokey” character. Many are craft distillers. Others still package in jars and jugs.

Distilling moonshine is a simple process, requiring only 4 main ingredients: corn, sugar, yeast and water. Barley, rye, or fruits may be used, and even hogfeed is not unheard of. Simple pot stills do the job. Further, there is little emphasis on aging or maturation. Some future Bourbon producers are making Moonshine to tide them over, while waiting for their Bourbon to finish aging.

From George Washington, who built a grist mill in 1770, and returned to Mt. Vernon, VA (where he planted Indian corn and rye) in 1797 after his Presidency; through the Whiskey Rebellion (which occurred after Alexander Hamilton showed Congress that it could use its power to tax [repealed in 1801]); through Prohibition (1920 -1933); and to today – when distilling is now legal, distillers’ taxes are collected, and distillation is done in daylight, and not “by the silvery moon” – Moonshine has been part of Americana.

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If you want to learn how to distill nowadays, and your grandfather is no longer around to teach you, there is Moonshine University in KY, where a 5-day Distiller Course will set you back $5,000-$6,000. Students say it is definitely worth it. Colin Blake, its Creative Director, warns that any illegitimate distilling flirts with breaking more than 100 state and federal laws. Small wonder that students gladly pay their tuition!

In order to get an official definition of Moonshine, I turned to the ‘Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits and Amendment’ (Code of Federal Regulations – Chapter 4: Class and Type Designations), and – surprise – there is no regulation for Moonshine! I saw an ‘Amendment’ from February 2013, and I thought a definition would be there, but it turned out to be for Caçhaca, a type of rum, and a distinctive product of Brazil.

So there is no legal definition for Moonshine, and I believe that’s how everyone wants it! The taxman is very happy that he can collect taxes without being threatened!

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For our SWE Moonshine tasting, Bill Lembeck reduced all the proofs by 50% with high-quality bottled water. We ditched the crackers, and served organic, unsalted popcorn. In addition, Bill created the artwork, with a bottle shot superimposed on its home state for each moonshine. Click here to download a pdf of our guided Moonshine tasting, including tasting notes for the 14 different products tasting during: harriet-lembecks-moonshine-tasting-notes-august-2016

One final note: Attendees were loved this session, and were impressed with the uniqueness of the topic, and the range of products tasted!

HarrietHarriet Lembeck is a CWE (Certified Wine Educator) and a CSE (Certified Spirits Educator – a new designation). She is President of the Wine & Spirits Program, and revised and updated the textbook Grossman’s Guide to Wines, Beers and Spirits. She was the Director of the Wine Department for The New School University for 18 years. She can be reached at h.lembeck@ wineandspiritsprogram.com.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger or a guest SWEbinar presenter for SWE?  Click here for more information!

 

2016 Conference Recaps: Saturday Evening

The following sessions were enjoyed by all on Saturday evening, August 13, 2016 as part of SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC!

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What’s so Great about Oak, presented by Bob Sechrist: This session began with the attendees discovering that oak and references to oak are most likely all around them. For proof, just look at the back of a dime, the cork in your wine bottle, or the wooden buttons on your sweater!

Oak is a common fixture in the production of wine as well, and oak actually shares many characteristics with grapes. While they certainly may look different, the two plants both share the following characteristics: both are keystone species, inter-species crosses are common, they are widely distributed, they are non-specialized, they are native to the Northern Hemisphere, and occupy many ecological niches. In terms of culture, they are both prized by humans, historically significant, highly symbolic, and integral to Western Civilization.

Oak has become the leading wood for use in wine barrels due to its unique structure. This includes a tight grain which permits a gradual extraction of wood flavors and minimized wine loss through evaporation. Oak is also resilient, enabling staves to be bent into the curved shapes required by barrels without breaking. Oak is also high in tannin, which is an important flavor component as well as an effective preservative.

This session progressed into even more fascinating topics such as the world’s best oak forests and the typical characteristics found in their wood, the specifics of oak flavor and aroma compounds, the parts and construction of a barrel, and oak alternatives to barrel use in wine production. For more information on this session, click here to download the slide show: whats-so-great-about-oak-presented-by-robert-sechrist-csw

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Exploring the Back Roads of the Côte d’Or, presented by Don Kinnan, CSS, CWE: This session was introduced as a program about Burgundy’s “Blue Collar Wines.” This means a focus on wines that are high on value and (perhaps) low on glamor–but delicious all the same! The reason some otherwise very fine wines are lower in glamor does not necessarily correlate to quality, but more so to location, difficulty in pronunciation (and it accompany lack of popularity), less celebrity, fewer “star” producers, and less distribution.

The region discussed included Marsannay (the northernmost village appellation in the Côte d’Or, Fixin (Gevrey-Chambertin’s “little brother”), Pernand-Vergelesses (which includes 8 premiers crus as well as one-third of the Corton-Charlemagne vineyard), and Savigny-les-Beaune (the second-largest red wine producing village in the Côte de Beaune, after Beaune). For more information on these regions and the wines served during the session, click here to download the slide show: the-backroads-of-the-cote-dor-presented-by-don-kinnan-cwe

Alluring Italy—Wicked Wines, Celestial Cheeses, presented by Sharron McCarthy, CSW: This session began with an overview of Italian wines including the regions, classifications, and amazing diversity of grapes that make up Italian wine. Also included in the discussion was the range of cheese produced by Italy. Then, the session progressed into a tasting of “wicked” Italian wines paired with a selection of “celestial” Italian cheeses.

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The first paring featured a wine from the Veneto, Cantine Maschio Sparkling Rosé produced from Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Raboso grapes. This wine was paired with Quadrello di Bufala cheese from Lombardy. This was followed by a crisp, dry 100%Vermentino La Pettegola from the Toscana IGT paired Pantaleo, a semi-hard goat’s milk cheese from Sardinia. Selections from Tuscany included Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino Riserva and Summus Estate Bottled Toscana IGT—a deep, ruby red blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Cheeses paired with the Tuscan wines included Pecorino Toscano (sheep’s milk) and Fontina Val d’Aosta.

Wines and cheeses from Abruzzo, Emilia-Romagna, and Veneto followed, including a delectable Amarone della Valpolicella. To wrap things up, a classic sweet-and-savory pairing was demonstrated using Florus Moscadello di Montalcino late harvest dessert with serve with Gorgonzola Dolce. For more information on the wicked wines and celestial cheeses of Italy, download the session slide show here: alluring-italy-wicked-wines-celestial-cheeses-presented-by-sharron-mccarthy-csw Sharron also has an overview of Italian wines available for download here: overview-of-italy-2016-sharron-mccarthy

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

2016 Conference Recaps: Saturday Afternoon

The following sessions were enjoyed by all on Saturday afternoon, August 13, 2016 as part of SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC!

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A Side of Bourgogne Yet to be Discovered – presented by Jay Youmans, CWE, MW: Did you know that within each subregion of Bourgogne, there are many appellations that remain relatively obscure to the US Market?  In this session, attendees were able to examine a good number of these lesser-known AOCs and just what it is about them that merits consideration by the US—both trade and consumer.

Beginning with the far north of Bourgogne, undiscovered regions include Saint-Bris AOC which produces a white wine based on Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, Petit Chablis with its Chardonnay, and Irancy which produces red with based on Pinot Noir with up to 10% César.

Among the Côte d’Or, regions, some standout “undiscovered” regions include the AOC of the Hautes Côtes de Nuits; the attendees were able to sample a white wine from this AOC as well as red wines from Auxey Duresses, Givry Premier Cru, Monthélie, and Fixin.

The area of the Côte Chalonnaise includes the “undiscovered” areas of Bouzeron, known for its Aligoté, as well as the AOCs of Givry, Mercurey, Rully, and Montagny (which provided another delicious white wine for the group to try). The Mâconnais contains the familiar regions of Pouilly-Fuissé and Saint-Véran, but as this class found out, the AOCs of Pouilly-Loché, Pouilly-Vinzelles, and Viré-Clessé produce delicious wines as well! For more information on the undiscovered AOCs of Bourgogne, and details on the wines served at the session, click here to download the slideshow: a-side-of-bourgogne-yet-to-be-discovered-presented-by-jay-youmans-mw

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International Bordeaux Blends—Blind Tasting Seminar, presented by Eric Hemer, CWE, MS, MW:  This session began with a discussion of the history of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety, beginning with its origin in (assumed) early eighteenth century France (in Bordeaux’s Médoc), all the way through the prolific grapes off-spring varieties of Marselan, Centurian, and Ruby Cabernet.

The physical characteristics of the grape (high vigor, late budding, thick-skinned, high tannin) and growing areas were discussed (France, followed by Chile, California, Australia, China, and Argentina). Following this, the grape’s most popular blending partner were examined; the most important being Merlot, followed by Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Carmenère, Shiraz, and Sangiovese.

Then, the blind tasting began. Ten Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from around the world, in vintages ranging from 2009 to 2013 were tasted blind, followed by a discussion of the wine’s major characteristics and flavor attributes. After each discussion, the attendees were invited to decide whether the wines was New World or Old World, give a possible region of origin, and guestimate the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the wine. For more information on the session and the wines included in the tasting, download the slide show here:  international-bordeaux-blends-blind-tasting-and-seminar-presented-by-eric-hemer-cwe-ms-mw

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Wines of Ningxia China: Old World, New World, or Unique presented by Houghton Lee and Tommy Lam: Located somewhat in central China, Ningxia is a young a fast-growing wine region. International grape varieties were first brought to the area in 1982 and there are now 85 operating wineries and over 87,000 commercial acres of vines. China’s first geographically protected wine region, the Eastern Foot of Helan Mountain, is located in Ningxia.

The leading white grape varieties of Ningxia are Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Riesling, and Vidal. Red grapes are more widely planted than white varieties and include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir (among others).

The tasting portion of the session began with Kanaan Winery Riesling 2013 and Legacy Peak Chardonnay 2014. From there, the tasting focused on red varieties beginning with Sha-Po-Tou Winery’s Cabernet Gernischt 2013, Domaine Pushance Marselan 2014, and Chateau Zhihui Yuanshi “Son of Mountain” Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. For more information on the Ningxia wine region and the wines tasting at the session, click here to download the: wines-of-ningxia-china-presented-by-hougton-lee-and-tommy-lam

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

2016 Conference Recaps: Italy Focus

SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held in August of 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC, had some amazing sessions on Italy!

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Diamonds in the Rough: The Many Faces of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco was presented by Alan Tardi. Alan began his session by acknowledging that Prosecco has recently skyrocketed to international fame, becoming (by some counts) the world’s most popular sparkling wine. But while everyone knows Prosecco, and people all over the world enjoy a Bellini or a Spritz…very few people know what Prosecco really is.

2009 was a decisive year for Prosecco. By this time they wine was well known throughout the world and growing rapidly in popularity, but there was some confusion, as the name was not officially recognized outside of Italy and was not legally tied to its specific area of origin, which left it wide open to counterfeit and abuse.  As such, three things occurred in 2009: the new Prosecco DOC was created, the classic Prosecco territory of Conegliano Valdobbiadene was upgraded to DOCG status, and the name of the principal grape variety—Prosecco—was changed to Glera (an historical synonym) so the well-known name could be specifically applied to the region.

The tasting portion of the session included an interesting range of wines produced within the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco area—including still (tranquillo) wines such as Bortolomiol Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG “Canto Fermo” Tranquillo 2015, a Gregoletto 100% Verdiso (produced under the Colli Trevigiani IGT), and the parcel-specific “Particella 68” Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2015 Brut from Sorelle Bronca. For more information on the session and the wines, click here to download the slide show: diamonds-in-the-rough-the-many-faces-of-prosecco-docg-presented-by-alan-tardi

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Liguria—Italy’s Unsung Region was presented by Susannah Gold, CSS, CSW:   Have you heard of Liguria? It is a very narrow strip of land between the Ligurian Sea, the Alps and the Apennines—bordered by France to the west, Piedmont to the north, and Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany to the east. Perhaps its best-known feature is the Cinque Terre.

Being so close to the sea, as you can imagine the area has an overall mild climate, although some spots experience abundant rain and harsh winter winds.  White grapes rule the region, with Vermentino, Bosco, Albarola, Pigato, and Bianchetta Genovese among the leading (and quite interesting) grapes of the region. Some reds are also produced, featuring (among others) the Ciliegiolo, Granaccia (aka Grenache), Ormeasco, and Rossese di Dolceacqua varieties.

Liguria has eight DOCs (one shared with Tuscany) and you can download a pdf of the rules, regulations, and main wine styles of each of these areas here: liguria-disciplinare. For more information on Liguria her wines, as well as details of the wines tasted during Susannah’s session, click here to download the liguria-italys-unsung-region-presented-by-susannah-gold-css-csw.

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Super Tuscany was presented by Paul Poux, CSW: In this interactive session, Paul Poux introduced us to a range of wines from Tuscany that included not just “Super Tuscans” but a variety of other Tuscan wines and regions that are new or reinvented.

These wines included an IGT Trebbiano from Capezzana Winery (better known for Carmignano). This was a delightful white wine described by Paul as having aromas of “almonds, yellow flowers of the field, and vanilla.” Next up was a Chianti— Melini Chianti 2013—packaged in an old-fashioned, wicker-enclosed bottle that attendees learned was known as a “fiasco.”

After a discussion on how the world-wide reputation of Chianti fell (for a short time) into quite a funk, the audience relished several of the finest examples of Chianti available, including Chianti Classico, a Chianti Classico Riserva, and a few samples of the “newest” designation of Chianti, the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione.

Following the Chiantis, several of Tuscany’s other well-known reds were presented, including Tignanello 2011 (Toscana IGT), Carmignano, Brunello di Montalcino, and Morellino di Scansano. The class ended on a high note with a sampling of two true Super Tuscans, including Ca’Marcanda Bolgheri 2011and Bolgheri Sassicaia 2011. For more information on Paul’s session, click here to download the slides: super-tuscany-presented-by-paul-poux-csw

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

2016 SWE Conference Recaps: Friday Evening

The following sessions were enjoyed by all on Friday evening, August 12, 2016 as part of SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC!

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Mexico: A “New” Exciting Wine Country, presented by Sandra Fernandez, CWE: Sandra’s session started with a discussion of the history of wine in Mexico, which dates back to 1200, when a type of wine was produced in the area from honey and fruit, and typically based on a red berry known as acahul. Starting in the 1500’s, vinifera vines were brought to Mexico from Spain and wine was produced in many parts of the colony then referred to as “Nueva España.” In August of 1597, the Hacienda San Lorenzo winery was founded, which is today known as Casa Madero and recognized as the oldest winery in the New World.

Fast forward to today, and Mexico has a blossoming wine industry with a total of 4,000 hectares (9,880 acres) of commercial vines, over 200 wineries, and 19.5 million liters of annual wine production.

The wine producers of modern day Mexico are spread out over eight wine regions, located mostly in the northern and central parts of the country. The leading wine region—by far—is Baja California, which surrounds the city of Ensenada. The Baja California region, located near the Pacific Coast, enjoys a Mediterranean climate and produces over 80% of Mexico’s wine. For more information on the wines of Mexico, click here to download the handout and slide show from the session:Mexico – a New and Exciting Wine Country – presented by Sandra Fernandeez

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Mindset and the Millennial Learner, presented by Sarah Malik, CSS, CWE, CWS, and Alistair Williams, PhD: Who are the Millennials? They were born in the 1980’s through the early 2000’s, are post-Baby Boomer and pre-Gen X. This means that they make up 100% of the 21–25 year old market, and they are responsible for 42% of the wine consumed in the US. In other words, they are an important market!

This session focused on how to create meaningful learning experiences for Millennials.  Some of the best practices include putting an emphasis on collaboration with others and sharing work assignments, using technology to enhance teaching, and facilitating critical thinking by using Wikis and blogs to enhance an inclusive learning assignment by allowing contribution and editing. For more ideas and information, download the session slide show here: Mindset and the Milennial Learner – presented by Sarah Malik and Alistair Williams

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Wine and Cheese, Cheese and Wine—do they make a Good Marriage? Presented by Ed Korry, CSS, CWE, and Sarah Hill: Wine and cheese are ageless companions—or so the mythology tells us! This session attempted to cut through the clichés of food and wine pairing (referred to in the session as “cacophony” – which makes sense to anyone who has ever studied the subject) and delve into the “how” and the “why” of why food and wine—and specifically cheese and wine—working well (or not working well) together.

Some of the tenants of the session included a true definition of flavor as a combination of taste, smell, tactile sensations, and chemesthesis (among other factors) and the realization that people have differing levels of sensitivity, perceptions, and even preferences to certain taste components and flavors.

In order to explore this subject via experimentation, six different wines representing six different styles of wine were poured alongside six different cheeses (representing the award-winning cheeses of Wisconsin). To wrap up the session, the “new rules” of food and wine pairing were discussed, which include “Cause and effect is real, but whether you like it or not is individualized.” For the rest of the “new rules” as well as details on the wines and cheeses presented at the session, click here to download the session PPT for: Wine and Cheese, Cheese and Wine – presented by Ed Korry and Sara Hill

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

2016 SWE Conference Recaps: Tasting Focus

SWE’s 40th Annual Conference included some serious, advanced tasting classes led by some of the most renowned wine experts in the world. Tim Gaiser, MS presented on “Cause and Effect and Objective Factors,” and Roger Bohmrich, MW presented “Minerality: Examining, Challenging, & Tasting its Meaning.” Both were among the high-rated session at the conference.

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Advanced Tasting Strategies: Cause and Effect and Objective Factors—presented by Tim Gaiser, MS. The first part of Tim’s session covered the “why” questions in the context of deductive tasting. In other words, what is it about this wine that makes it look, smell, and taste the way it does? This consideration can be very useful for a taster in learning about classic grapes/wine styles in tasting practice, and also exercises the critical thinking used in deductive tasting. Some examples of cause and effect include: primary colors (which are a result of grape variety, time spent in barrel, and/or oxidation); intensity of aroma (which may result from grape variety, climate, ripeness levels, structural elements such as high alcohol, malo-lactic fermentation, and/or oak usage); and body (which may result from alcohol or glycerin level and/or the level of dry extract in a wine). More information on cause and effect may be found on Tim’s blog post titled “Cause and Effect: The Why behind Deductive Tasting.”

Another topic covered in Tim’s presentation was the importance of trying to identify those factors in a wine that are measurable, or objective. Examples of objective factors include basic measurements such as the acid, alcohol, and tannin levels; and may also include aromatic terpenes, pyrazines or thiols; evidence of oak or signs of oxidation. For more information on objective factors, see Tim’s blog post titled “Tasting Strategies.”

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Minerality: Examining, Challenging, & Tasting its Meaning-presented by Roger Bohmrich, MS: Roger started his session with the very interesting fact that the term “minerality” has only recently been widely used as a descriptor for wine. As a matter of fact, the term is not included in Ann Noble’s Wine Aroma Wheel, was not mentioned in Emile Peynaud’s book The Taste of Wine, and did not appear in the Oxford Companion to Wine until the current (2015) edition.

The session went on to confirm the wide-spread belief that mineral-like aromas are not believed to be derived directly from minerals in the soil, and that soil minerals are not the same substance and mineral nutrients.

Along the way, however, the point of view of many “mineral believers” was also discussed, and some of the wines that these “believers” point to as examples were tasted. These included Domaine Patrick Baudouin Anjou “Effusion” 2014, Fritsch Grüner Veltliner “Steinberg” 2015, and Christian Moreau Père & Fils Chablis 2014, among others. Attendees were encourage to rate the wines based on their own perception on minerality—or not—in the glass. The last wine tasted, a Luigi Bosca Mendoza Malbec from 2013, was chosen specifically because it was unlikely to show minerality; a perception with which the great majority of the audience agreed.

In the end, it was concluded that there are two competing hypotheses of minerality in wine: one that holds the view that minerality in wine is a direct expression of minerals in the wine, and one that defines minerality as a complex sensory phenomenon with many causes and expressions. As a result of Roger’s extensive research, he has summarized that the factors that can lead to a mineral perception in wine may include high total acidity, presence of succinic acid, absence of “fruitiness,” presence of volatile thiols, trace elements and salts, as well as culture, psychology, and expectation. For more information, you may download the slide show here: Minerality-Examining, Challenging, and Tasting its Meaning-presented by Rober Bohmrich, MW

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

2016 CWE Conference Recaps: Focus on Chile

At SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held August 11-13, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC, we were lucky to have some outstanding Chilean winemakers share their wines and their stories with us! Read on to learn about these two sessions, one which centered on the superstar–Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, and another about the Syrah—Chile’s “Great Unknown”

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Syrah: Chile’s Great Unknown – presented by Felipe Tosso: Syrah is a successful grape in many parts of the world. The largest Syrah-producing countries in the world are (in this order) France, Australia, Spain, Argentina, South Africa, the United States, Italy, and Chile. Chile may be number 8 in the list, but at 15,000 planted acres, Syrah might be considered Chile’s greatest “unknown” grape variety!

Within Chile, the largest plantings of Syrah are located in the Colchagua Valley, Maule Valley and Maipo Valley. The Colchagua Valley has over 6,600 acres planted to Syrah. The Mediterranean climate in the Colchagua Valley, along with the deep, rocky soil of the area tends to produce Syrah-based wines with deep flavors and mineral complexity. As representatives of this style of wine, the Viñedos Emiliana “Coyam” 2012 (a blend of 39% Syrah, 32% Carmenère, 17% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Mourvèdre, and 1% Malbec) was poured along with a Montes Alpha Syrah from 2013. Another interesting wine Colchagua Valley wine known as Ventisquero Pangea 2011 was offered. This unfiltered, richly hued wine is produced using 90% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Viognier. Click here to download the slide show from the session: Syrah – Chile’s Great Unknown – presented by Felipe Tosso

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Chilean Cabernet Country – presented by Patrick Valette: This session started out with a discussion of the areas in Chile that are best-known for Cabernet Sauvignon. These include the wine areas of Curico, Maipo Valley, Cachapoal Valley, Colchagua Valley, and Maule Valley.

Of the wines from the Maipo Valley, many are grown in the high-elevation Alto Maipo, a cool-climate area with a blend of colluvial and alluvial soils featuring clay, sand, loam, and gravel. Several wines from this area were sampled, including Viña Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Viña Vetisquero Enclave Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, and Carmen Gold Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.

Located about 80 miles southwest of Santiago, the Colchagua Valley is another prime growing area for Cabernet Sauvignon. This area enjoys a nearly “picture perfect” Mediterranean climate, with alternating influences between the cool breezes off of the Pacific Ocean and the winds flowing down from the Andes Mountains. The Montes Alpha 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, grown in vineyard areas known for their granite soils, was a highlight of this part of the tasting.

Another area known for Cabernet is the Cachapoal Valley. This area is planted over 80% to red grapes, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère being the superstars.  A fascinating red blend, Viña VIK, grown in the Millahue subregion of the Cachapoal Valley, is produced form 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Carmenère, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 4% Syrah was featured in this part of the session, and well-received by all! Click here to download the slide show from the session: Chilean Cabernet Country – presented by Patrick Valette

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

2016 Conference Recaps – Friday Afternoon

The following sessions were enjoyed by all on Friday afternoon, August 12, 2016 as part of SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC!

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Dry White Bordeaux: Presented by Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW and Linda Lawry, DWS, CWE: This class started with a discussion of dry white wines in the overall context of Bordeaux, and it was quite enlightening! For instance, dry white wines represent only about 9% of the output of Bordeaux—and this includes Crémant!

To put the numbers into context, Bordeaux has 10 appellations and 24,000 acres (9.800 ha) of vines dedicated to white wine. Of the vineyard area, about 47% is dedicated to Sémillon, 45% to Sauvignon Blanc, 6% to Muscadelle, and the remaining 2% to a smattering of other allowed grape varieties that include Colombard Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Merlot Blanc and Folle Blanche.

This introduction was followed by a deep discussion of the grape varieties, soils, and winemaking techniques used in conjunction with the wine whites of Bordeaux. Following this, was a tasting that highlighted some of the leading white wine appellations of Bordeaux. Included in the tasting were the following wines: Château Sainte Marie Vieilles Vignes 2015 Entre-Deux-Mers, Château La Freynelle Bordeaux Blanc 2015, Château du Champs du Treilles “Vin Passion” Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux 2013, and Château de Cérons Graves Blanc 2013. These wines represented the following white wine appellations of Bordeaux: Entre-Deux-Mers AOC (exclusive to white wines), Bordeaux Blanc AOC (the largest white wine appellation), Sainte-Fox-Bordeaux AOC (an appellation for red, white, and sweet whites), and Graves AOC (an appellation for both whites and reds). To discover the rest of the wines tasted, and the rest of the story of dry white Bordeaux, click here to download the handout and slide show for Dry White Bordeaux-presented by Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW, DWS.

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Betting on Malbec–the Different Terroirs of Cahors: Presented by Bertrand-Gabriel Vigouroux: This fascinating session started out with the story of the history of “the Black Wine of Cahors.” Here’s just a small bit of the story: Jean XXII, the second Pope in Avignon, was born in Cahors and brought a winemaker from Cahors with him to plant the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and to help build the Palace of Avignon. For many generations in the pre-phylloxera era, Malbec was one of the main grapes planted in Bordeaux. While the Malbec grapes in Bordeaux and Cahors were decimated by phylloxera, by this time Michel A. Pouget had brought the Malbec grape to Argentina where it continues to thrive.

Today, while there are over 40,000 hectares of Malbec in Argentina, there are approximately 4,400 hectares in Cahors. The region of Cahors is about 45 miles long by 15 miles wide, with over 300 different producers. Georges Vigouroux is considered to be one of the pioneers of the modern era of Cahors, having purchased and restored the Château de Mercues, the oldest château in Cahors, in 1983. The château now houses a winery and hotel, and is credited with the beginnings of “oenotourism” in the area.

The session continued with a discussion of the soils and terroir of Cahors, and ended with a tasting that included Château Leret-Monpezat Grand Vin Cahors 2012, Crocus ‘L’Atelier’ Malbec de Cahors 2012, and Chateau de Haute-Serre Malbec de Cahors 2014 (among others). To read more about the wines and the session, click here to download the slideshow – Betting on Malbec-the Terroirs of Cahors-presented by Bertrand-Gabriel Vigouroux.

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Exploring the Haut-Savoie in Wines and Spirits: presented by Hoke Harden, CSW, CSE—Hoke Harden CSW, CSE took his class on a voyage through history from the Carolingian Empire, to the Kingdom of Arles, and finally to the House of Savoy. Following the expansion of a single county, which became a Duchy, which included a Principality, which became a Kingdom, then another larger Kingdom, the House of Savoy also contained diverse and remarkable wine- and spirit-producing regions, which included, at times, Savoy, Bugey, Isere, Aosta, and Piedmont, among others.

Wines tasted included Berthollier Chignin Vielles Vignes 2013 (Jacquere) Vin de Savoie, Maison Anselmet Torrette Superieur Vallée d’Aoste DOC, and Tenuta de Fontanafredda Serralunga di Alba Barolo. Spirits and aromatized wines were also included in the tasting, such as Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Vermouth de Chambéry, and Dolin Génépy des Alpes.

To read more about these wines, spirits, and the historic House of Savoy, click here to download the handout and slideshow Wines and Spirits of the House of Savoy-presented by Hoke Harden CSW, CSE.

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org