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Guest Post by Barbara Pitcher, Söntés wine steward

Connecting with family and friends over an excellent meal with nicely paired wines is not just an image from a Norman Rockwell painting! When Tessa Leung (ISG Level II Sommelier) and I designed the upcoming series of Wednesday wine classes starting July 25th, we designed it to enable you to create that Normal Rockwell image within your own home as a “blessedly frequent” experience. One of the things that thrilled us when we first met several months ago was our shared passion for fresh, flavorful food perfectly paired with wines that showcase all of the subtle flavors of the food to make any meal delightful. And now we’re excited to collaborate on bringing those experiences to you!

An Overview

The classes will move smoothly through various worldwide regions of winemaking. We’ve designed them so that the classes will build on one another, yet will still be accessible for those who would only like to deepen their knowledge in one or two areas. All classes will discuss terroir and how the distinctions between the regions influence the wines they produce. We’ll also discuss how things like soil, elevation, weather, root stock, and trellising can make radical differences in the wines. There will be comparisons and contrasts made between each set of regions, some pairing discussion, and we may even have some wine industry guests drop in to share some additional perspectives.

Exploring the Breadth of Wine

In our first block of classes, we’ll discuss familiar New World wines with a focus on those made in the styles of the “Old World standards.” The class on North American wines will feature those from California (particularly Napa and Sonoma) as well as Oregon and Washington, including their popular versions of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and more. Then we’ll move on to South America with a focus on Argentinian and Chilean wines—particularly the niches that have been carved for Argentinian Malbec and Chilean Carmenere, but also the wide breadth of South American Cabernets, Merlots, and more. Our next stop will be Australia and New Zealand, focusing mainly on the Shiraz in Australia and Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand. The last class of this block will be dessert wines and pairings with desserts and cheeses.

The next block of classes, starting September 12th, will focus on Old World wines, particularly those from Spain, France, and Italy. For centuries, these countries have set the standard for finely crafted wines. We’ll sample the best varietals for high quality wines from each region in each country. As we taste their wines, again we will contrast and compare the wines as we discuss the effect of terroir. We’ll end this block of classes with a perennial favorite: BUBBLES! We’ll be discussing and tasting 12 to 16 sparkling wines that will include Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, and other styles of sparkling wines. And of course, we’re working on some great guest speakers for these classes as well.

For the third block of classes, starting October 17th, we’ll journey into the fascinating arena of Worldly wines—that is, we will contrast and compare Old World and New World wines, concluding with “Library” wines and an exploration of what the terms “Grand Cru,” “Premier Cru,” “Reserve,” and “Estate” mean the world over. This will be an incredible opportunity to taste outstanding wines, discuss their perfect pairings, and truly understand why some wines are an investment to be carefully cellared for many years to enjoy with loved ones for the truly big life events or special occasions.

Perpetuating the Love of Wine

Overall, our goal throughout this session is to spark an understanding that blossoms into a passion for wine and food paired well. At the end of the classes, you will have learned how to taste wine so that you recognize varietals and styles—and love your palate!

As we are getting ready to launch our classes, be sure to drop into Söntés frequently; we’ll be hosting wine & food trivia games, pouring amazing wines by the glass (with the opportunity to purchase bottles at retail), and having fun while giving you even more reasons to want to join us. Please put Wednesdays at 6pm at Söntés on your calendar now, and get tickets in advance. Further details are available on our Happenings page, and you can buy tickets directly here.

Salut—and hope to see you there!