Wine 101: How to Taste Wine and Why (Class + Dinner) | Boston Wine School @ VINOvations

Not sure if you know the difference between red, white and rosé? What are sparkling wines and why aren’t they all called Champagne? How does Sauvignon Blanc differ from Cabernet Sauvignon?

The Boston Wine School is here to help answer those questions and more. “Wine Tasting for the Complete Novice” is an ideal class for wine lovers just starting their explorations of wine. You will learn about the 4 major wine styles and focus in on 4 of the most popular wine grape varieties. In the process, you will begin to learn basic wine tasting skills and how to describe the different personalities of these wines. An assortment of cheeses and antipasto will be served during class to introduce some of the fundamentals of pairing wine and food.

Here at the Boston Wine School, we are a 100% Wine Snob Free Zone. We believe that learning about wine involves learning more about yourself. Our goal is to help you understand and communicate what you are experiencing when you are enjoying a glass of wine. Come start your wine journey with us.

After class, put your education to the test over a delicious catered wine dinner. We’ll make a major food match with an Italian white and red specially selected for the menu.

WINE MENU (tentative)

Pearls Before Wine

2017 Fili Millesimato Prosecco | Veneto, northeast Italy, $21.99

The Spectrum Of Wine

WILD VINES

2017 Silver Puffs Sauvignon Blanc | Lodi, central California, USA, $16.99

TO OAK OR NOT TO OAK

2018 Wild Child Chardonnay | Coastal Region, southwestern Cape, South Africa, $19.99

PRETTY IN PINK

2016 Basilium “Terre dei Portali” Aglianico Rosato | Basilicata, southern Italy, $18.99

PINOT TO THE PEOPLE

2015 Cinco Manos Pinot Noir | Colchagua Valley, central Chile,
$19.99

LIFE IS A CABERNET

2015 Le Grand Chai Médoc | Bordeaux, western France, $24.99

DINNER MENU (tentative) 

Pollo Cristina | Chicken baked in nutmeg and wine

Spinaci alla fiorentina | Baked spinach with mushroom (vegetarian)

Timballo | Penne pasta baked in cheese sauce with roast eggplant crust (vegetarian)

Flourless chocolate cake with balsamic glaze | Fruit

Pinot Grigio | Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

2016 Saracosa Vermentino | Tuscany, central Italy, $17.99

2014 Duca di Cardino Chianti Riserva | Chianti, Tuscany, central Italy, $18.99

 YOUR EDUCATOR 

Jonathon Alsop is founder and executive director of the Boston Wine School and author of The Wine Lover’s Devotional: 365 Days of Knowledge, Advice & Lore for the Ardent Aficionado published by Quarry Books.  Jonathon started life as a wine writer covering wine, food and travel in 1988. He is author of the long-running wine column In Vino Veritas by Jonathon Alsop as well as many articles for the Associated Press, Frequent Flyer, La Vie Claire, Beverage Business Magazine, Mobil Travel Guides, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Boston Globe, and many others. He founded the Boston Wine School in 2000 where he teaches wine and food classes.

HOST VENUE

VINOvations is a state of the art destination for wine lovers who want more than just the usual.  We strive to enhance our customers wine drinking experience by offering a vast selection of boutique wines from around the world.  We offer our guests the charm and amenities of a winery: our unique 2500 sq ft. event space includes a 40 bottle automated wine tasting room, private tasting stations, dual Chef’s Studio Kitchen, wine education & much more.

Southern France: Wines of Provence and Languedoc | Boston Wine School @ Roslindale

Wine making in southern France is almost 1,000 older than the rest of the country, and you can really taste it.  Sunny southern France is home to some of the country’s oldest and most interesting vineyards, almost 800 years older, in some cases, and growing a diverse range of grapes from Syrah, Grenache & Mourvedre to the unheard of Carignane, Cinsault, Bourbelenc & more.

This class will take you on a wine tasting tour of Mediterranean France from coastal Provence to hilly Languedoc.

An assortment of cheese & antipasto will be served during class to explore the fundamentals of wine & food pairing.

 

YOUR EDUCATOR 

Jonathon Alsop is founder and executive director of the Boston Wine School and author of The Wine Lover’s Devotional: 365 Days of Knowledge, Advice & Lore for the Ardent Aficionado published by Quarry Books.  Jonathon started life as a wine writer covering wine, food and travel in 1988. He is author of the long-running wine column In Vino Veritas by Jonathon Alsop as well as many articles for the Associated Press, Frequent Flyer, La Vie Claire, Beverage Business Magazine, Mobil Travel Guides, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Boston Globe, and many others. He founded the Boston Wine School in 2000 where he teaches wine and food classes.

 

YOUR HOST VENUE

solera

 

Solera – A Shrine to Wine is a neighborhood specialty wine store nestled in the heart of Roslindale Square (Boston). The store, now in its 18th year is warmly decorated in green and deep purple resembling the colors of the grapes and filled with rack after rack of “offbeat wines”, pretty much everything a modern wine geek seeks out and loves, at more than reasonable prices. Indeed, with nearly 500 bottle selections from across the globe, unlike the monster chain stores and supermarkets, Solera takes a back seat to none and offers a stellar sampling of the world’s best and some unusual vineyards with average prices from 10 to 20 dollars or more, if your budget allows. Since wine education, and customer service are vital to our business, individual attention to the customer is the reason why the press has designated the Solera staff as “well versed grape-talkers”. When you want to smarten up on your wine there is no better place to do just that than in this little gem of a store, where wine is constantly being discussed with purpose and a smile!

BWSEd Level 1: Certificate in Wine | Boston Wine School @ VINOvations

Level 1 Certificate in Wine
Saturday + Sunday, June 22 + 23, 10am – 3pm each day


WHO SHOULD ATTEND
Level 1 is an introductory course for beginners and enthusiasts. It assumes some exposure to wine but little or no formal wine knowledge. This program is appropriate for both consumers and professionals in all wine, food, hospitality and service industries.


WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
Students will learn technical wine tasting, the major wine grapes, wine and food pairing basics, and fundamentals of wine style. The emphasis in Level 1 is on providing an overview of wine and wine tasting, plus an introduction to wine and food pairing concepts.


LEVEL 1 PROGRAM FORMAT

8 hour classroom program                                                                                                             

20 – 24 wines tasted

LEVEL 1 PROGRAM SYLLABUS

Seven “S” System Of Wine Tasting
The Big Four: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon
Understanding Wine Grapes: Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Rosé, Montepulciano, Syrah, Merlot
Fundamentals Of Wine And Food Pairing
Wine Styles: Old World Versus New World

REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS

Guests, students and certificate candidates must meet the legal minimum age for the retail purchase of alcoholic beverages in the country where the program is being held: 21 in the USA and China.

CERTIFICATE REQUIREMENTS

Complete classroom program

Complete classroom wine tasting exercise

Multiple choice exam of 25 questions

Minimum passing score 75%

 

YOUR EDUCATOR   Jonathon Alsop

 

 

Jonathon started life as a wine writer covering wine, food and travel in 1988. He is author of the long-running wine column In Vino Veritas by Jonathon Alsop as well as many articles for the Associated Press, Frequent Flyer, La Vie Claire, Beverage Business Magazine, Mobil Travel Guides, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Boston Globe, and many others. He founded the Boston Wine School in 2000 where he teaches wine and food classes.

 

HOUR HOST VENUE

VINOvations is a state of the art destination for wine lovers who want more than just the usual. We strive to enhance our customers wine drinking experience by offering a vast selection of boutique wines from around the world. We offer our guests the charm and amenities of a winery: our unique 2500 sq ft. event space includes a 40 bottle automated wine tasting room, private tasting stations, dual Chef’s Studio Kitchen, wine education & much more.

VENI VIDI VINO! Fundamentals of Italian Wine | Boston Wine School @ Roslindale

Tasting, thinking & talking about wine!

Join us for a wine and food tour of Italy! Wine is produced in every region of Italy, and we are just starting to scratch the surface when it comes to exploring all the different varieties and styles of Italian wine. Experience the culinary sights, smells and tastes via your wine glass and plate. By the end of the class, you will know your Vino Nobile di Montepulciano from your Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo!

This 2 hour class will take you on a mini-wine tour of Italy. An assortment of cheeses will be served during class to introduce some of the fundamentals of pairing wine and food.

YOUR EDUCATOR 

Jonathon Alsop is founder and executive director of the Boston Wine School and author of The Wine Lover’s Devotional: 365 Days of Knowledge, Advice & Lore for the Ardent Aficionado published by Quarry Books. Jonathon started life as a wine writer covering wine, food and travel in 1988. He is author of the long-running wine column In Vino Veritas by Jonathon Alsop as well as many articles for the Associated Press, Frequent Flyer, La Vie Claire, Beverage Business Magazine, Mobil Travel Guides, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Boston Globe, and many others. He founded the Boston Wine School in 2000 where he teaches wine and food classes.

 

YOUR HOST VENUE

solera

Solera – A Shrine to Wine is a neighborhood specialty wine store nestled in the heart of Roslindale Square (Boston). The store, now in its 18th year is warmly decorated in green and deep purple resembling the colors of the grapes and filled with rack after rack of “offbeat wines”, pretty much everything a modern wine geek seeks out and loves, at more than reasonable prices. Indeed, with nearly 500 bottle selections from across the globe, unlike the monster chain stores and supermarkets, Solera takes a back seat to none and offers a stellar sampling of the world’s best and some unusual vineyards with average prices from 10 to 20 dollars or more, if your budget allows. Since wine education, and customer service are vital to our business, individual attention to the customer is the reason why the press has designated the Solera staff as “well versed grape-talkers”. When you want to smarten up on your wine there is no better place to do just that than in this little gem of a store, where wine is constantly being discussed with purpose and a smile!

Taste Off: Napa Versus Sonoma | Boston Wine School @ Lantera Boston Landing

Napa and Sonoma – neighboring counties, fabulous wines, and famous rivalry.  Most everyone has heard of these powerhouse wine producing regions, and many people have a clear favorite between the two.  Why do California wines from Napa and Sonoma stand out from the rest?  What distinguishes them from each other?

Explore these questions and more at the Napa vs. Sonoma Taste-Off.  We will provide some head-to-head match-ups of wines from these regions and let you be the judge.  In the process, you will learn basic wine tasting skills and how to describe the different personalities of these wines.

Appetizers and an assortment of cheeses will be served during class to introduce some of the fundamentals of pairing wine and food.

At the end, you can cast votes for your favorites, and we will declare a victor of this installment of the Taste-Off.

YOUR EDUCATOR

 

Jonathon Alsop is founder and executive director of the Boston Wine School and author of The Wine Lover’s Devotional: 365 Days of Knowledge, Advice & Lore for the Ardent Aficionado published by Quarry Books. Jonathon started life as a wine writer covering wine, food and travel in 1988. He is author of the long-running wine column In Vino Veritas by Jonathon Alsop as well as many articles for the Associated Press, Frequent Flyer, La Vie Claire, Beverage Business Magazine, Mobil Travel Guides, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Boston Globe, and many others. He founded the Boston Wine School in 2000 where he teaches wine and food classes.

YOUR HOST VENUE

Lantera is a word meaning “beacon”, and it’s the heart and soul of the new 15-acre Boston Landing neighborhood. Apartments feature floor-to-ceiling windows, premium finishes with stainless steel appliances, and technology touches throughout. The heart of Boston is less than five miles away and is easily accessible via the Boston Landing commuter rail stop – just a three-minute walk away. Lantera is surrounded by eclectic restaurants, curated retail shops and world-class athletic facilities.

Wine Word For January: “Lean”

By Jonathon Alsop

It’s hard to speak the language of wine because it’s a language invented by drunk people, but wine lovers blame themselves for the convoluted vocabulary. Talking about wine is like writing a poem where multiple literal and metaphorical images appear and overlap. But it would help if we could get clear on a few basic words.

Someone threw the word “lean” into the mix the other night in class to describe the body of an Italian Pinot Grigio we were tasting. The opposite of “lean” is “fat” or “big and round” – think archetypical California Chardonnay. The PG in question was light in weight and silver in color, edgy, zippy, a little watery, but in a good way.

We use a lot of body image descriptors to talk about wine – a big red can be legitimately called a “body builder” – and they are a natural way to think and talk about wine.

HOMEWORK: Use it in a sentence. For instance: “I want a glass of white wine, something lean and light.”

Paolo Valle Pinot Grigio 2016


Something lean and light? Here you go!

One of the challenges with Italian Pinot Grigio is that it’s extremely different depending on where it’s grown in Italy. Sometimes, grown hot and wild in the south, Pinot Grigio comes off thin and watery, but not this one. Friuli is the foothills of the Alps – next stop, Austria and Slovenia – and the growing season is long and cool. What slow cooking does for food, slow growing does for wine. The result is a suave, rich Pinot Grigio to pair with seafood of all kinds, wild mushroom risotto, even fragrant veal and pork dishes.

2016 Paolo Valle Pinot Grigio
100% Pinot Grigio
(Friuli, northeast Italy, $18.99)

https://www.vinovations.us/paolo-valle-pinot-grigio-2016/

Southern Star Malbec: New world fruit, old world style

Turn on the grill for this stylish barbecue-ready Malbec

By Jonathon Alsop | Boston Wine School Founder

18 April 2018

2016 Alma Andina Malbec Reserve (Mendoza, Argentina)

Inventive holidays like International Malbec Day give us the chance to look deep into the many Malbec based wines we teach with in wine class. Alma Andina – Soul of the Andes – hits the Boston Wine School trifecta: we use it in “Come To Cheeses” with Manchego, “Grape Expectations” and “Wine 101,” classes that represent the core of our curriculum.

As you can imagine, the world is full of tasty Malbec under $20, but the style of this Alma Andina is special. There’s plenty of dark brooding fruit flavors in the glass, tastes that will remind you of dates and figs and dried cherries.

But if you step out a little into the lake, the bottom drops off suddenly, and deep earthy subterranean flavors take over. I know I completely mixed my metaphors there, but this wine is worth it. If I’d tasted it blind, I’d have guessed French Malbec, a category that starts at $25 a bottle.

Argentina is a land in love with its carnivorous ways. It’s not unusual to have chicken, pork, beef, lamb and goat all in the course of the same meal, and you can tell this week’s wine was brought up in that same tradition. Don’t feel left out, vegans and vegetarians: the match here is with the grill and the char, something you can achieve completely, even meat free. I can definitely see myself working through a case of this Malbec once we start grilling again.

http://www.vinovations.us/alma-andina-malbec-reserve-2016/

 

 

Pinot To The People

Pinot Envy Along The Sonoma Coast

By Jonathon Alsop | Boston Wine School Founder

11 April 2018

2013 DeLoach “Private Collection” Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast, California, USA)

California makes more Pinot Noir than it grows, not by importing out-of-state wine, but by blending in other grapes. Technically, US wine only has to be 75% one grape type to be named for that grape on the label. In theory, your favorite bottle could be pure Pinot, or it could be three-quarters, or anything in between.

Truth is, you can often easily see this in the glass. Pinot Noir – the grape – is light red and thin skinned, and many classic Euro Pinot Noir is so light you can read your phone through a glass of it. When you crack open a California Pinot and it comes out dark red, almost opaque, that’s a sure sign the wine’s blended, often with a high-pigment grape like Petite Sirah.

This week’s special comes from our “Pinot To The People” class, and we use the DeLoach “Private Collection” for a lot of reasons – its bright cherry and cranberry fruit flavors, its slight earthiness and outdoorsy aromas – but mostly for its authenticity. The color is real life burgundy and the flavor is true-to-type Pinot Noir.

If you’re a fan of cool-climate Oregon Pinot, this is a great choice. It comes from the Sonoma Coast, way north and west of Sonoma Valley and much closer to the cold Pacific. The result is a slow-grown wine full of flavor and finesse.

https://www.vinovations.us/deloach-private-collection-sonoma-county-pinot-noir-2013/

Zinfandel Dreams

Why We’re All Living In Zin

By Jonathon Alsop | Boston Wine School Founder

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

2014 Raymond Vineyards “The Inaugural R Collection” Zinfandel 
(St. Helena, Napa, California, USA)

Our “Signature Grapes” tasting class really gets fundamental by tasting the connection between certain wines and the places around the world they’ve made famous – and vice versa. Zinfandel fills this role in California wine. Cabernet and Chardonnay may be just as famous, but you only get this kind of Zinfandel one place, and that’s a unique geographic bond that you can taste in the bottle.

People ask me all the time what’s my favorite wine, and I’ve got a lot of favorites, but the truth is, it’s Zinfandel. I love California’s signature grape because it has a little bit of everything I love in a wine – fruit, spice, earthiness, black AND white pepper.

In the wine world, we call this balance, and if you balance flavors in some dynamic and tasty way, we call this style. On the spectrum of Zinfandel, this Raymond stakes out the fruit and juice range, and its style is alive, vivid, and California sunny. The color is dark candy-apple red, and the flavors will remind you first of ripe red plums and black raspberries, then almost behind the scenes, the wine smells like dried herbs, even a little like cocoa.

Best of all, this 2014 is young by Zinfandel standards. It possesses great youth and vitality right now, but I would be looking forward to drinking this in the 2020s too.

https://www.vinovations.us/the-inaugural-r-collection-by-raymond-vineyards-zinfandel-2012/

Blending For Power Wine

Cabernet + Zinfandel = Delicious

By Jonathon Alsop | Boston Wine School Founder

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

2016 The Ocean Howler Cabernet Sauvignon + Zinfandel
(Lodi, central California, USA)

This is one of those wines that really sets your expectations before you even get into the bottle.

First of all, the richly artistic label – evocative and powerful on its own – promises a powerful wine experience. And then the blend – Cabernet Sauvignon plus Zinfandel – is simultaneously new yet embarrassingly obvious too. As soon as I saw it, I had one of those “DUH!” moments. America loves Cabernet… America loves Zinfandel – what took us so long?

There are other blends out there that use Cab and Zin with other grapes, but so far this is the only pure Cabernet + Zinfandel blend I’ve ever encountered, and I plan to encounter it again and again! This is a $17 blend that tastes better than any $17 Cabernet or $17 Zinfandel on its own.

The Ocean Howler really represents the best of both worlds: the bright, juicy, fruity happiness of Zinfandel combined with Cabernet’s earthiness and weight. It’s not quite April yet, but I’m already thinking about barbecue season, and this blend would be delicious with anything smoky and meaty off the grill. At just $2.20 a glass, this is one of the tastiest under-the-radar wines I’ve come across in a long time.

https://www.vinovations.us/the-ocean-howler-cabernet-sauvignon-zinfandel-2016/