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Local wine classes teach basics

By Emily Bartelheim, Features Editor

Are you one of those people who aspires to be a classy wine-drinker, but whenever you walk through the wine aisle at Beuhler’s you just grab a cheap bottle of whatever has a cool name like “Fat Bastard” or “Elephant on a Tightrope?”† Lucky for you, the Wooster Inn offers an annual series of wine classes with connoisseur Kenneth Bogucki.

Bogucki, proprietor and executive chef at the Inn, is a certified sommelier (wine expert) who has trained in the Master Sommelier program.† At these sessions, he covers the basics of wine tasting while attendees talk about and taste the differences in wines from around the world.† Each year the class focuses on different wines.

Bogucki himself has had the opportunity to travel around the world to experience a great variety of foreign wines, but he says he is “even more fortunate that wines and winemakers from France, Italy, South America, South Africa, Australia and, in a couple weeks, New Zealand, all come to the Inn to host a wine dinner.”

Students Stephanie Andrus ’12 and Laszlo Marcze ’11 shared a few interesting facts they learned at the Saturday, Feb. 12 session.

Their compiled mini-list of fun facts is as follows:† 1) The shape of the bottle can tell you what kind of wine is within. 2) The legs on wine glasses mean nothing about the quality of the wine itself. 3) There are significant differences between cork, synthetic cork and a screw top wine bottle.

Andrus said that “each wine was described in great detail; [Bogucki] explained the background of where the grapes were grown, how ripe they are when they are picked, and the different flavors that come out in the wine based on where the grapes are grown.”

Marcze said his favorite wine at the event was a Chilean red wine called Tannat which is made from the national grape of Chile.

One of Bogucki’s personal favorite wines is Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand because it is crisp, citrusy and a great summer drink.

Another interesting fact he shared is that cooler growing conditions mean slower ripening and thinner skins on the grapes and a rich fruity flavor in the wines.

Bogucki also stated that in order to appreciate wine, it is important to taste a wine before eating and then again after a bite.† Pairing wine with foods is Bogucki’s favorite activity, since food changes the way a wine tastes and vice versa. Typically, one pairs red wine with red meat, and white wine with white meats.

Now, for all of you who wish to develop a sophisticated wine palate but are too intimidated by the vast subject, Bogucki has a bit of advice: “The old joke goes: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?† Practice, practice, practice.† Every individual is an expert at their own palate; you know what you like.† You need to first learn the area from which your favorite wine comes so you can order off a wine list.”

When you think to yourself, “Okay, so I know I like this one kind of Riesling wine,” just go for other wines that come from the same region.† It is impossible to know the half-million wines that are released each year, but it is possible to learn the characteristics of a region and to pick wines from that region as they will share the characteristic you enjoy.

Don’t let yourself get intimidated, wine is an extremely expansive subject and it takes time to thoroughly learn and appreciate all the different aspects and nuances of each type.

There were a total of four sessions of the wine classes in this sixth year of the series, so if you would like to participate in next year’s, keep those Saturdays in February open.

This year’s sessions focused on the fundamentals of tasting white wines, new world reds of the USA, New Zealand, Australia, South America, and South Africa, Old World Wines of Europe and the Ohio Quality Seal Wines featuring Todd Steiner from the OARDC.

There is a special College of Wooster student pricing, so if you would like to appear to know what you’re doing in the wine aisle of Beuhler’s, this class can provide you with a little insight into the wonderful world of wine.

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