Back to School

While some were celebrating Labor Day with big, BBQ-induced smiles children everywhere were mourning what Labor Day really signifies: the return to (gasp) SCHOOL.

This year, ‘school’ is taking on a new form for me via the Sommelier Society of America, where I’ll be swirling and sipping juice from around the globe and pretending  attempting to discover and articulate the minute critical differences between true Chablis and unoaked Chardonnay from somwhere else. (Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to spare you the boring parts).

Here, a few things I learned from my first day at school.

Don’t be an Asshole. 

This was the mantra of our lead instructor, an industry veteran who must have repeated the phrase 20 times in 2 hours. A refreshingly un-snobby way of telling wine snobs not to push people on the playground.

Sparkling wine shouldn’t pop when you open it.

Contrary to popular belief that “popping champagne” is à la mode, the classic sound is the result of bubbly that isn’t cold enough coupled with pushing the cork out instead of twisting it out.

When it grows together, it goes together.

Hence why wine from the Languedoc goes with the Mediterranean seafood traditional to the region. If you can find things together in nature, it’s the most surefire sign they’ll work as a pairing.


Temperature is everything.

Wine’s biggest enemy is unfriendly temperature (both in grape and in finished wine form), and 55 degrees is the official ‘perfect’ wine temperature. Fluctuations can hurt the juice as much as leaving it in a 90 degree kitchen, so keep that in mind when you’re stashing bottles throughout the house.

Up Next: More fun facts from the 800 page tome that’s serving as my textbook, and the notes I’ll be taking in crayon to keep things light.

  • September 10, 2012
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