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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Final Wine Class...

Last night was the final session of the Advanced Wine Essentials course, required for my 'Grand Cru' certificate in wine studies (from The Institute of Culinary Education). The session covered: vermouths, sherries (jerez), madeiras, portos and one marc (traditional grappa).

Punt e Mes Italian NV red vermouth ($15/16)
On the nose: molasses, spice, cloves, cinnamon, wood
Drink straight, chilled and enjoy with salted almonds

About vermouths, I'd learned that they can be great cooking wines (much better than using a cheap wine) and that madeiras--while mostly used for cooking, nowadays--can be enjoyable for drinking too! (I preferred the lighter ones, but the darker ones do pair well with salty foods)

Blandy's 15 year malmsey madeira ($40)
On both the nose and the palate: rich and dark
Enjoy with salty foods like ham or salted nuts

About portos (which are almost always made using a blend of grapes), ruby portos are meant to be drank young and tawny portos are made from red grapes, then aged until the color has been lost (often in increments of 10, 20, 30 or 40 years). The best portos are vintage portos which are made from red wine, aged two years in wood, then meant to age in the bottle for ten to fifteen years. (start buying yours now!)

Lustau's NV Pedro Ximénez "San Emilio" jerez ($31)
On the nose: dried, dark fruits
A thick, syrupy dessert wine

About sherries (the biggest wine bargain in the world), chill your light ones, like the very dry Sandeman "Don Fino" (NV) which paired well with our olives and young manchego. ($13) But my favorite was Lustau's NV Pedro Ximénez "San Emilio" jerez. Quite lovely, perhaps even as a gift, try it over vanilla bean ice cream; straight, unchilled; or maybe you'll even try soaking some figs or dates in it!

I must say that I'm sad to see my final class come and go. But nonetheless, I could always continue with some recreational classes--my favorite ones are Professor Vayda's cheese and wine pairings. But for now... I have to think about what we'll be having at my graduation dinner! Perhaps Julia's truite en lorgnette or truite en colère--"... the fish that's so mad he's eating his tail!"

Julia Child's truite en lorgnette
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