The first class was about Beaujolais Wine. The one I just attended was about German wines. Who knew that Riesling is considered the most noble white grape, or that German wines had such a complex classification scheme.
Basically you arrive at the 16th and Walnut classroom, listen to the most fun power point slide presentation you'll ever hear, imbibe a fair amount of alcohol (about 8-10 half-glasses total if you polish each one off), nibble on selected cheeses and fruits, and leave the place with some snobby knowledge, a desire to quit your job and buy a winery somewhere, or at least become a master sommelier. I advise walking home if you live in the city, or taking a cab.
From Tria's website:
Knowledge about wine, cheese and beer enhances one's appreciation of the good stuff. At the Tria Fermentation School, you can satiate your intellectual curiosity while drinking and eating the syllabus. We are bringing passionate winemakers, cheesemakers, brewmasters, authors and other experts from all over the world to share their knowledge.Many classes sell out within a few hours of being posted, while others linger for weeks. If you are in the Philly area, consider signing up for their e-mailing list (right column) which will alert you to the newest scheduled classes.
Damn. I really need several lives. In one of them I'm a fine wine maker. In this one I just love to drink the stuff, and learn more about the science and craft, which admittedly makes many of us feel stupid and ignorant. From today's New York Times, a timely article states:
I go for the $12 and under myself.
Meanwhile, consumers face an impenetrable swamp of winespeak: Wine Spectator recently evaluated one Argentine red as, “Dark and rich, with lots of fig bread, mocha, ganache, prune and loam notes. Stays fine-grained on the finish, with lingering sage and toast hints.”
To hack through it all, consumers embrace scores, an easy shorthand that unfortunately requires that every wine be judged on the same seemingly objective scale, regardless of the subjective nature of taste. Anybody can understand that a wine rated 90 beats an 89, right?
Yet the rating system has bred an attitude toward wine that ignores context, which is perhaps more important a consideration to the enjoyment of wine than anything else. The proverbial little red wine, so delicious in a Tuscan village with your sweetie, never tastes the same back home in New Jersey. Meanwhile, the big California cabernet, which you enjoyed so much with your work buddies at a steakhouse, ties tucked between buttons, doesn’t have that triumphant lift with a bowl of spaghetti.