On Saturday night, Mal and I got all dressed up and then started our evening with a cocktail at the pub at Twin Farms.
The pub had a fully-stocked bar (with snacks) as well as a variety of entertainment options, including a pool table, dart board, big screen TV with lots of movies, grand piano, and vintage jukebox. It was really cool inside and a great place to hang out.
Mal and I put on some tunes.
And then played pool and darts.
At 6:30 PM, we headed to the Main House for “The One-Hour Wine Expert” with Kevin Zraly. In 60 minutes, Kevin guided us through a comprehensive tasting that explained some of the fundamental elements and differences in wine varieties.
I’ve attended quite a few wine classes over the years, but I can honestly say I learned more in Kevin’s hour-long class than any of the others I’ve attended. He’s a great teacher!
Interesting things I learned:
- There are 6 major grapes in the world: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. If you know these six, you’re in really good shape.
- 90% of white wines in the world are made from Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.
- If Riesling is the skim milk of the wine world, Sauvignon Blanc is 2% and Chardonnay is whole milk.
- White wines gain color as they get older; red wines lose color as they age.
- Tannins in wine decrease with age; sediment increases.
- 95% of taste is smell, so Kevin suggested holding each sip of wine in our mouths for 5 seconds before swallowing in order to get the full taste experience.
- Your sense of smell starts to decline at 32 years old.
- 90% of wines produced are intended to be consumed in one year. 99% of wines produced are intended to be consumed in 5 years.
- The U.S. is now the #1 wine consumer in the world. In 19 years, even with the recession, wine consumption has steadily increased.
Something that Kevin (and David) said that I really appreciated was that you don’t need someone (or a rating) to tell you which wines you should like. If you like a specific wine, that’s great! If you don’t, no big deal. Kevin suggested buying a wine, trying it, and then looking at reviews and ratings to see what other people think about it. If someone says you should like a wine, but you don’t, are you truly going to enjoy it? I really loved this advice because it made wine seem so much more accessible and, of course, made me feel better about my love for Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc!
My favorite wine of the tasting: Dr. Loosen Bernkasteler Lay 2010. It was a Riesling (not all of them are super sweet!), which was fresh, smooth, mineral-y, and lightly sweet. It was delicious, and you could easily drink it alone. I’m definitely on the lookout for this bottle now!
After the wine tasting, Kevin guided us through the food and wine pairings with dinner.
Of course, Mal and I practiced what we had just learned.
Get your nose in there, Mal!
Dinner was incredible, and the wines that David paired with each course complimented them so well. It honestly made each bite that much more enjoyable.
- Tasmanian Sweet Crab in White Asparagus Broth with Roasted Buttercorn, Chives and Quail Egg Risotto
- Yuzu Infused Cucumbers with Bulghur Wheat Scallion Salad and Oranges, Citrus Dressing, Chèvre Noir, Parsley, Salted Almonds
- Grilled Loin of Lamb with Oyster Mushrooms and Spruce Ash Pappardelle, Baby Spinach, Roasted Vidalia Onion, Spruce Needle Jus
- Compressed Bosc Pear and Pear Sponge on Roasted Prune Purée, Smoked Cocoa Nib Mousse, Peppered Walnut Streusel, Cocoa Tuile
And featured wines:
- Pascal Jolivet Sancerre (2010)
- Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet (2010)
- Liger-Belair Nuits St. George (2004)
- Chateau Bellevue (2000)
- Chateau Cantenac Brown (2003)
- Chateau Lafaurie Peyreguay (1997)
Obviously, the meal and wine pairings were amazing, but what Mal and I enjoyed most about dinner was dining with Kevin Zraly, who joined us at our table. We spent the entire night chatting with him. It was so cool.
I have to admit, when I realized Kevin would be sitting with us, I was pretty nervous. He’s a famous wine expert, and I know practically nothing about wine, so I wasn’t sure what we’d talk about. But, after just a few minutes of conversation, I realized Kevin and I (and Mal) actually had quite a bit in common. Kevin and I have the same book publisher and editor, so we chatted a bunch about writing. Surprisingly, Kevin and I shared similar struggles with writing, so it was reassuring (and comforting) hearing that he too finds it challenging, and he’s written lots of books. (I struggle with writing so much!)
Kevin also told us that he has a degree in elementary education and coaches high school basketball (his team just made it to the playoffs), so the three of us had plenty to talk about during dinner. Kevin is such a nice guy. I’m so lucky to have met him.
After dinner, Mal and I returned to our cottage and enjoyed some warm chocolate chip cookies and milk before bed. For real.
Questions of the Day
Are you a wine drinker?
Red or white?
How much do you know about wine? Have you ever taken a class?