Friday, October 30, 2009

WSET, Class 7

I'm sorry I haven't posted in over a week. My attention has been focused on my beloved Phillies and the World Series. You'd think that the tension of each pitch would drive me to drink more, but I've been taking out my stress on my nails and not my wine refrigerator.

Though it was Game 1 of the Series, I made my way to class as I've been doing each Wednesday for the past several weeks. Plus, it was sparkling and sweet wine. Who would want to miss that class?

Before sharing the highlights, there is one thing every wine fan needs to understand. The only wine that can be called Champagne is a sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France. I know this is truly snobby, but I really do not like when people refer to a non-Champagne sparkler as Champagne. I know this is supposed to be wine for all and all for wine, but there are some things I can't abide!

So what new things did I learn this week? The highlights:

-There are two methods for making sparkling wine: the traditional method and the tank method. The traditional method is a lot more labor intensive and thus a lot more expensive. Not surprisingly, champagne or sparklers made this way are generally considered better and are often more expensive. That said, I have seen $20 bottles made in the traditional way. The way to tell from the label is to look for the words Cremant or Methode Champenoise. Spanish Cava is also made using the traditional method. Most Italian sparkling wine is made using the tank method.

-Almost all champagne on the market is non vintage. Very rarely do they actually have years they can consider vintages. 1996 was a huge vintage and 2002 was the last vintage released.

-There are several different types of sweet wine and several different ways of making them. The most highly regarded dessert wines (Sauternes, Tokaji, Austrian and German BA and TBA) are made from grapes that develop Botrytis which is known as the "noble rot." Technically the grapes are diseased, but Botrytis tends to add a lot of wonderful tropical and nutty flavors to the grape. Also, it's very risky and labor intensive because it means leaving your grapes on the vine a lot longer.

Tonight I'm starting off a 5 course meal with a French sweet wine. The wine was made with grapes that developed Botrytis.

Of course we will be pairing several other wines throughout the meal so check back in the next day or two!

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.


elliej said...

The sparkling wine you brought for your Dad's 75th birthday was excellent. I cannot for the life of me remember the name. Years ago I would have -- Oh, no! -- called it "champagne".

Alli M. said...

Parigot is the name of it. It is a French sparkling white but it is not made in the Champagne region (though it is made using the traditional method) said...

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