Andy Hale is the director of the Asheville School of Wine and the primary teacher for the classes taught there. He is a Certified Specialist of Wine and was formerly a Sommelier at the Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island in South Carolina. He has over fifteen years of experience in the food and beverage community and has also worked in wine distribution. He and his wife, Christina, moved to Asheville from Charleston, South Carolina in 2012, and added their daughter Josephine to the picture in 2016.

The Asheville School of Wine in the News Again!

Market-Watch

We were interviewed by Market Watch Magazine recently about our upcoming Beaujolais Nouveau Tasting and book signing. In it I made the bold claim that we are on the verge of a quality revolution for Nouveau. Just like all wines, I think we as consumers are growing tired of mass-produced, mediocre quality wines and are purchasing better quality products. That's why we have decided to focus on only quality Nouveau this year, instead of stacking cases of pinkish-hued plonk. This belief that we are buying better quality wines is what is feuling my belief that Nouveau will get better and better over time.

Having said that, Nouveau is different from traditionally fermented wine. We are talking about wine that hasn't been aged at all, the grapes were literally on the vine a few months ago. It will never rival Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but it isn't supposed to. Beaujolais Nouveau is a seasonal celebration of the current harvest. It should be simple, fresh, fruity and fun. It doesn't have to be any more than that.

Read the full article here!

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The Asheville School of Wine Teaches College!

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That's right! We've made it to the big leagues here at the Asheville School of Wine. We were approached by AB Tech's fantastic Craft Beverage Institute about adding some classes on wine to go along with their courses on Beer. Of course we excitedly agreed!

The course was designed to provide practical wine knowledge and service to professionals who are currently in the wine industry or want to get into the industry. We also wanted it to serve as a "first step" towards Sommelier Certification through one of the Sommelier Guilds. 

In our 12 hour course we covered everything from opening bottles of wine and Champagne, to blind tasting, careers in wine, sensory analysis, and steps of service. It also covered lots and lots of information on wines and wine regions of the world.

It was a fantastic experience and something I'm looking for ward to doing again. We will teach the same course again in early 2020. Contact AB Tech if you are interested in taking this course.

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Fall Wine Classes Announced!

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As the heat of Summer is starting to fade, it's time to announce our Fall Semester of wine classes here at the Asheville School of Wine! There are 8 classes lined up for you before the year is out.

Starting out, we have the Blind Tasting League, which returns on September 19th at 5:30. This interactive class will delve into the Sommelier art of deductive blind tasting. We will taste two whites and two reds in this fun, informative and funny class, as we try to guess the varietal and country of origin of each. $20 tax included!

Next, we will have our Fall series of classes, "Around the World in Wine." This four-part series will cover the famous wines and regions of the world. Starting with France on October 1st at 5:30, Italy on October 8th, Spain and Portugal on October 15th, and then Wines of the New World on October 22nd. These classes are $25 each plus tax or $85 plus tax for all 4 classes.

Expect to learn about the spooky things lurking in your glass of wine in the annual "Dark Side of Wine" class. Is your favorite wine made out of grapes, or something more sinister? Find out on October 30th at 5:30. $25 plus tax.

Confused by Port and Sherry? You aren't alone! Learn about all of the different styles of fortified wine in our course on Port and Sherry. November 19th at 5:30. $25 plus tax.

Finally, just in time for the New Year is our class on Sparkling Wine! What's the difference between Champagne, Cava and Prosecco? What in the world is Cremant? Find out in our class on December 17th at 5:30! $25 plus tax.

Buy Tickets Here!

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Blind Tasting League Returns!

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Stay tuned for details coming soon!

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Money, Mayhem, Murder: The Darkest Side of Wine

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By popular demand, we are bringing one of our most popular series of classes from the OLLI program at UNCA to the Asheville School of Wine, complete and unedited!

Money, Mayhem & Murder covers the worst crimes in the wine industry, both historical and modern day. We will cover everything from Arson to Fraud and, of course, Murder.

This will be a series of three classes, each one will be two hours long and include wines to taste that have been paired with the stories.

Each class is $30 plus tax or $75 for all three classes.

Class 1: Money

This class will examine the financial crimes committed in the world of wine. Theft, Ponzi Schemes, arson and counterfeit wine will be covered in this class.

June 13th from 5:00-7:00

Class 2: Mayhem

The “Wine Mafia”in France, wine terrorists, a scandal that tanked an entire country's wine program, a wine bottle brawl at 30,000 feet and why you should never mess with Chateau Cheyval Blanc.

June 20th from 5:00-7:00

Class 3: Murder

Murders and poisons in the world of wine. The Borgias, Rasputin, a Sicilian who helped women murder their husbands and a modern day murder–suicide in Napa Valley.

June 27th from 5:00-7:00

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I Love Riesling and So Should You

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Ok I'll admit, that's a pretty controversial title.

Riesling has long been seen as the grape of the uncultured, the wine you have to keep a bottle of in case Aunt Bertha stops by. A glass of sweet plonk that is marginally better than that bottle of Muscadine you bought at a gas station as a gag-gift for your wine snobby friend.

But Riesling is a favorite of Sommeliers around the world, myself included. In fact, many of the wine experts I have looked up to over the years have admitted to me that their favorite wine is Riesling.

I realize that most of us had our first hangover from the sugary stuff we bought at the grocery store in college. If the idea of Riesling conjures up images of bottles shaped like a cat or emblazoned with an image of a Blue Nun, keep in mind those are cheap knock-off's of Riesling mostly made from the grape Sylvaner.

When I was 19, I spent a little over a month in the Mosel Valley of Germany. I wasn't old enough to drink in the US yet, but I was plenty old enough in Germany, so at our first restaurant stop, I clumsily ordered a glass of red wine. The server smiled as if I had made a faux pas and kindly offered to bring me something more regionally famous. Thus began my lifelong love of Riesling.

Riesling is aromatic and floral, and naturally has very high levels of acid, but it is not always sweet. Often it is left with a bit of residual sugar to balance out it's bracing tartness, think of it as adding sugar to lemonade. If you are a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, I have no doubt you will enjoy a dry Riesling.

If you are interested in learning more about Riesling, the Noble Grape of Germany, come to our next Much Maligned Grapes class which will be about Riesling. The class premiers on May 21st from 5:30-6:30.

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2019 Winter/Spring Semester Comes to a Close

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We had some good times this Winter and early Spring.

We tackled famously unpopular grape varietals like Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in our Much Maligned Grapes Series of classes. In each class we tasted examples of each grape from around the world. I think we had some converts.

We literally visited every province in Italy. Twice. Our Northern and Southern Italian classes were so popular we had to schedule them over and over again.

But now we say goodbye to our Winter Semester and make way for more classes coming this Summer.

 

See you all there!

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Merlot: Maligned No Longer?

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I have to admit, I didn't think we would be THAT successful with changing people's opinions about Merlot.

Merlot has been a bad word since the movie "Sideways" came out in 2004, and even the people who buy the few bottles we sell every year seem embarrassed about picking one up. They usually offer up an excuse of some sort. "I hate Merlot, but this bottle is actually pretty good" or some similar explanation. I've got news for you, you like Merlot and that is ok.

People think that liking Merlot makes them an uncultured rube. I've actually had people come up to the tasting bar in our wine shop excited to try the red and white we are pouring that day, just to change their mind once they see the word "Merlot" on the label. With a wave of their hand, they say "no thanks, I don't drink Merlot," as if they caught us in a trick at the last moment.

Imagine how surprised we were when our "Much Maligned Grapes: Merlot" class sold out! We packed 26 people into our classroom and fed them 5 different Merlot's from all over the world as they listened to me rant about "Sideways" and Juniper Cooper from Mutual Distribution talk about each wine.

The amazing thing was, the attendees really liked the wines! We sold out of the bottles we brought in for the event. Looking at our inventory afterwards you would think we had been robbed. It was the most Merlot purchased in one day since we opened our doors six years ago.

Did we change the course of wine history? Have we officially ended the stigma of drinking Merlot?  Only time will tell, but yes.

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Much Maligned Grapes Class 2: Merlot

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Do you love the movie Sideways? Did Paul Giamatti convince you to stop drinking Merlot? Maybe it's time to revisit this old favorite.

On March 19th we will take a tour of perhaps the most maligned grape of all with examples to taste from all over the world. Taste and learn about five different bottles of Merlot served with cheese. Andy Hale will start the class with an overview of the history and characteristics of the grape and Juniper Cooper will present the five bottles with the particular details concerning the country of origin and the style of the wine.

March 19th, 2019, from 5:30 to 6:30
$25+tax Includes wine tasting and cheese

https://metrowinesasheville.com/store/product/much-maligned-grapes-merlot-on-march-19th/

 

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Michelle D'Aprix Bordeaux Class

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I am very excited to announce a class on the Bordeaux region of France taught by yours truly and our favorite Bordeaux winemaker, Michelle D'Aprix! In case you haven't heard of Michelle, she is the only American woman winemaker in Bordeaux, and she makes some of our favorite French wines.
 
Andy Hale of the Asheville School of Wine will start the class off with the "nuts and bolts" of the Bordeaux region such as basic geography, permitted grapes, etc. Then Michelle will take us on an insider's tour of the Bordeaux region, talk about what it is like to make wine in Bordeaux and about being an American woman winemaker in France. It will be a truly uniqe experience you won't want to miss!
 
Join us March 26th, from 5:30-6:30. Class is $25 and includes cheese and a wine tasting.
 

 

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Additional Dates for our 2-Part Italian Wine Class

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Well it looks like our tiny classroom just isn't big enough! Even though we crammed almost 30 people in for our 2-part Italian Wine class, we still have a massive waiting list. Since so many people didn't make it into our class, we have opened up some new dates for our popular class.

There will be a second class for Northern Italy on March 12th at 5:30, although this class is already sold out.

A third class for Northern Italy is scheduled for April the 9th at 5:30.

A second class for Southern Italy is scheduled for April the 11th at 5:30.

The cost for each class is $25 plus tax and includes a tasting of some of the wines we will discuss in the lecture.

Buy classes here! https://www.metrowinesasheville.com/store/special-events/

 

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"Chardonnay Around the World" Class Was a Hit!

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Last night we hosted Chris Curtis from Winebow Distribution for our first class in our "Much Maligned Grapes" Series of classes. In this four part series of classes we will focus on a single grape varietal and taste examples of it from all over the world and with very different flavor profiles. Last night's class "Chardonnay Around the World" was the first in this series.

I started the class off with some information about the basic characteristics of Chardonnay, and then spoke about some of the techniques that winemakers can use to add the famous "Buttery" flavor that some Chardonnays are famous for.

For the rest of the class, Chris took us on a tasting tour of 6 Chardonnays from around the world. As we swirled, sniffed and slurped the wines, Chris spoke about the wine regions of each and talked about how each wine was made.

After it was all done, we had some self proclaimed "Chardonnay haters" that found a few Chardonnays that they would actually buy! I think everyone learned a little more about one of the most versatile and famous white wines.

Join us on March 19th as we continue the Much Maligned Grapes Series with the most maligned grape of them all: Merlot! Don't avoid Merlot just because Paul Giamatti told you not to!

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Learn about Italian Wine in our New 2 Part Series

Intimidated by the Italian wine section of your favorite wine shop or restaurant wine list?

Fear no more!

We are taking the most popular section of our Around the World in Wine series and going more in-depth. Instead of a quick glossing over of the most important Italian wines and regions, we will delve deeper and talk about the lesser known wines as well. You will leave this class confident and ready to take on an all Italian wine list!

This series will feature two classes, one on the wines of Northern Italy and one for the South.

In the Northern Italian Class, expect to learn about and taste the most famous of Italian wines. Learn about Chianti, Soave, Brunello, Barolo, Amarone and many more. This class will premier on Thursday January 24th from 5:30 until 6:30.

The Southern Italian Class will cover wines and regions south of Tuscany. These will be less famous, richer in style and a better value. Learn about Italian Zinfandel aka Primitivo, the wines of Campania - the ancient Roman equivalent to First Growths, the wines of Sicily and even Sardinia. Drinking the wines from one region will supposedly extend your life, find out why! This class will premier on Thursday January 31st from 5:30-6:30.

The cost for each class is $25 plus tax per person and includes a wine tasting and cheese.

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"Around the World in Wine"

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Since our 6-class series of wine classes were so popular last year, we are bringing them back for  another go!

This series will tackle everything from the basics of wine; varietals, food and wine pairing, describing wine flavors and even interacting with your Sommelier, to the more advanced classes on the different wines of the world; regions, grapes, and terroir.

Of course, there will be wines to taste and cheese to eat along with the class itself.

Learn, laugh, and learn to talk about wine with confidence.

More info at http://www.ashevilleschoolofwine.com/schedule

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Andy Hale
We will definitely do this series again. What is your email address? I can put you on our newsletter which does have some info oth... Read More
Friday, 12 October 2018 11:19
Andy Hale
My pleasure!
Monday, 15 October 2018 12:12
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I'm Back!

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So you may have noticed that I have been absent from this site for a little while. Like a dutiful husband, I followed my wife to Nashville when she was offered a big promotion with her company.

In life, you have to go where the job takes you. Right?

We were in Nashville for about 6 months when the combination of hot, humid weather, miserable traffic and hour-long work commutes caused us to rethink our move. We missed the mountains, the funky vibe of the Asheville scene, and our friends and family that we left behind. We talked it over and decided that a job wasn't worth sacrificing our quality of life.

Sometimes you don't realize how great your life really is until you move away and shake everything up.

We packed up our house and pointed our cars to the East. Back to Asheville. Back home.

This is my rambling way of saying that I will be taking over the reins of the Asheville School of Wine again. In the coming months, expect to see more classes and events posted and I'll be running my virtual mouth here on this blog as well. Keep an eye out for classes like "Money, Mayhem & Murder: The Darkest Side of Wine" through the OLLI Program at UNCA, "Wine Essentials" and many more!

It's great to be back and an honor to be resuming my post here at the School! See you all again soon!

 

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It's a Fracas!

It's a Fracas!

Wine is subjective, and that is part of the fun of drinking it. You might spit out a taste of my favorite wine, and I might not think your prized Napa Cab is worth $200. And that's ok. It wouldn't be as much fun if we all agreed on everything and liked all of the same things.

What I'm getting at is even professionals disagree from time to time, and that's exactly what is going on a Metro Wines right now. Normally this sort of thing is handled with the utmost professionalism and courtesy when regarding your collegue's opinion.

But not this time. It's getting ugly and turning into a real fracas.

You may have seen signs around the shop boasting "Andy's Pick" right next to a bottle showing "Gina's Pick." Andy likes Guido Porro's Barbera, and Gina likes Paitin's. Gina likes the O.P.P. Pinot Noir, and Andy prefers Montinore's. Which do you like better?

If you want to get in on the fracas, come by the shop and try each of our wines. See which one you like better, and report back. It's like taking the "Pepsi Challenge," but with wine and way more competitive! 

 

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Piedmont, Barolo and Barbera Class

Piedmont, Barolo and Barbera Class

 Have you ever noticed that almost all of the wines from the Piedmont region of Italy have similar names? Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera...it can be hard to keep them straight!

This is why we are excited to hold a class on just the wines of Piedmont! We will talk about all of the famous grape varietals and wine regions and even pour tastes of several wines. We will even pour Barolo, the most famous and expensive wine in Piedmont!

To get an insider's view on Barolo, we will even speak to Valentina Abbona from the famous vineyard, Marchesi di Barolo, live via Skype! A truly rare opportunity to speak to someone who has made wine in Barolo all of her life. We will also taste some of her wines!

Join us on Tuesday, September 19th, from 5:30 to 6:30 for a night of fun, information and of course, great wine! The cost is $20.

Call 828 575-9525 to make your reservation.

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The Grapevine: Learning about Wine

The Grapevine: Learning about Wine

In case you missed it, there was a great article on blind tasting in the Laurel of Asheville magazine!  The author, our own Gina Trippi, sites blind tasting as the best way to learn to taste wine like a pro.

I agree. To me, learning to describe the complex flavors in our favorite wines is the main reason to blind taste, learning to guess the grape and place is secondary.

Check out the whole article here!

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About Wine and Wedding Cake...

About Wine and Wedding Cake...
Wedding cake and Champagne are a surprisingly bad combination. They are frequently served together, but have you really ever enjoyed the combination? A Brut Champagne tastes bitter and overly acidic next to a bite of the sweet, frosting covered cake. The solution? Try a bubbly that is just a little off-dry.
 
In our food and wine pairing class, our students gave the thumbs down to a slightly sweet Spanish Cava when they were drinking it on its own. But when served next to a cake with buttercream frosting, the perception of sweetness disappeared! The Cava no longer tasted sweet and it didn't taste bitter like the Brut Champagne did.
 
The next time you are serving bubbly with cake, opt for one with some residual sugar and avoid making a bitter wine face.
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The School Hosts a Class on Food and Wine Pairing at OLLI

The School Hosts a Class on Food and Wine Pairing at OLLI

Well, we finally did it! We've been threatening for a few years to hold a class on food and wine pairing through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville and we finally did it.

I've always said that the best way to teach food and wine pairing is to show it with actual food and wine combinations and let everyone decide what works and what doesn't. This experimental course sought to do just that.

We had a different lunch catered by a local restaurant for our class each week and we paired different wines with the food. We picked wines that would pair well with the food, and intentionally picked some that would be a terrible pairing so that we can see what works and what doesn't. I'll admit, after so many years pairing wine, it was a surprising amount of fun picking wines that will be an absolute disaster with the food we were serving!

Here are some of the things that we learned in our class:

  1. Wines that are slightly sweet go really well with spicy Asian cuisine.
  2. Champagne is a curiously good pairing for fried chicken.
  3. Pinot Noir worked "ok" at best as a universal pairing.
  4. Champagne and wedding cake was a surprisingly bad combination, but a sparkling wine that was slightly off-dry tasted much less bitter.
  5. Sauternes and Apple Pie are "birds of a feather"

The food was catered by Strada, the Golden Fleece, Gan Shan Station, Corner Kitchen Catering, Homegrown, and also Geraldines and 50 Fifty Desserts for our dessert class.

If you didn't make it into the class this semester, we will offer a repeat of the same course for the spring semester. More information about the OLLI program here https://olliasheville.com/

 

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