In The Classroom
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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/
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!
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.
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
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!
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!
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.
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!
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:
- Wines that are slightly sweet go really well with spicy Asian cuisine.
- Champagne is a curiously good pairing for fried chicken.
- Pinot Noir worked "ok" at best as a universal pairing.
- Champagne and wedding cake was a surprisingly bad combination, but a sparkling wine that was slightly off-dry tasted much less bitter.
- 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/
Well, we have actually been teaching classes through the continuing adult education department at our local university for a few years now, but this was the first class that was open to the public.
The class was called "Wine Essentials" and went over the basics of wine. We started off by learning to describe the different flavor components of wine, then talked about common grape varietals, followed by a crash course in terroir and then finished up with some practical tips to get the most enjoyment out of your wine. How to start a wine cellar, when to decant and why, serving temperatures for your favorite wines and the basics of food and wine pairing.
If you missed it, there are 5 more classes in our series with one premiering every month. The next classes will deal with the major grape varietals and regions of some of our favorite wine making countries.
We still have a few seats left for our next class in which we will cover the wines of France. Learn about the grapes and history of Bordeaux, why you can't call your favorite California bubbly "Champagne" and why "White Burgundy" isn't an oxymoron!
Learn about the other classes in our series and buy tickets here: http://www.ashevilleschoolofwine.com/schedule
If you are a regular reader of this blog, have probably already heard that not only are rose wines not just for summertime anymore, they are fantastic wines to serve with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. If hearing this piqued your interest and you want to try it out yourself, we have put together four wines to go with each course of your holiday feast.
Try these out and experience a unique Thanksgiving Meal.
Appertif: Franck Besson “Rosé Granit” Gamay, Beaujolais, France, 2013
Enjoy this delicate sparkling Gamay rosé with your friends as they arrive. Crisp and delicate with flavors of pink flowers, under-ripe raspberry with a mineral finish.
Appetizer: “The Guild Rosé” Willamette Valley, Oregon, 2015
Nothing pairs with salads and lighter fare like Grochau’s rosé mostly made from crisp Melon de Bourgogne and just enough Pinot Noir to make it pink. Since this rosé is a blend, it is much lighter and more delicate than wines that are made entirely from red grapes. Enjoy the light, crisp flavors of wet stone, tart apple, rose petals and
Entrée: Cuilleron “Sybel” Syrah Rosé, Rhone Valley, France, 2015
For the main event, go with a wine that will stand up to turkey. This 100% Syrah rosé from the Rhone Valley shows powerful flavors of spice, roast fig and tart cherry with a slightly smoky finish. Whether you are oven roasting or deep frying your bird, this will power through and get your mouth ready for the next bite.
Dessert: Primes Rosé Port, Porto, Portugal, NV
Serve this rosé Port with Pumpkin Pie or on its own as a liquid dessert to finish your meal. Opulent and sweet with cooked strawberry and spice flavors. Serve chilled.
That's right! Think rosés are only for summertime sipping? Think again!
While I agree that some of the lighter and fruitier rosés can be a little insubstantial, there are many that are powerful, mineral driven wines that are incredibly versatile for pairing with food. We think they work especially well with Thanksgiving Turkey and dressing!
That's why we are showing off 6 of our favorite food pairing rosés on Saturday, November 5th. The tasting starts at 10:00am and runs until 7:00pm and is on the house.
If you can't make it, here's what will be on the taste:
Pierre-Marie Chermette “Les Griottes” Beaujolais, France, 2015
Beaujolais is synonymous with Thanksgiving and this Rosé is a perfect match for turkey. This fruity, fresh and easy drinking wine from the Southern end of Burgundy shows flavors of fresh red berry fruit, Morello cherry, raspberry, and strawberry.
Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, Oregon, 2015
A zippy rosé from one of Oregon’s best Pinot Noir producers. Crisp and powerful with flavors of cherry, early season strawberries, honeydew melon, rose petals and a finish of lime-peel.
Maz Caz Rosé, Southern Rhone, France, 2015
Maz Caz hails from the Southwestern Rhone Valley and is made by our friend Michelle D'Aprix, the only American Woman Winemaker in Bordeaux. You already love her red Bordeaux, Pentimento, now try her rosé blend of Grenache and Syrah!
Chateau Soucherie “Cuvée L’Astrée” Rosé, Loire Valley, France, 2015
A powerful and mineral driven wine from the Loire Valley. A blend of Gamay, Grolleau and Cabernet Franc, this wine shows flavors of cranberry, sour cherry, and flint, with lively acidity that will cut through whatever your Thanksgiving dinner can throw at it.
Cuilleron “Sybel” Syrah Rosé, Rhone Valley, France, 2015
100% Syrah from high altitude plantings in the Rhone Valley in France. This rosé is muscular, with flavors of spiced strawberry, cherry and fig.
Chateau La Rame Rosé, Bordeaux, France, 2015
Cabernet Sauvignon adds body and Merlot add some depth and spice to this Bordeaux rosé. Expect flavors of strawberry, tart cherry, pepper and spice.