By Kimberly ErwinAs Benjamin Franklin said, "wine is proof that God loves us." At Vineyard On The Square in Sugar Land, Texas, sight, smell and taste are key factors to an experienced wine taster.
Vineyard On The Square, located in the heart of Sugar Land's town square, is a place where the hedonistic wine lover and the cultural scholar can both come to learn more. Offering wine tasting and a variety of classes, Vineyard On The Square, will leave your pallet and your mind mesmerized.
One of the classes Vineyard On The Square offers combines the history of wine with the ability to taste multiple white and red wine selections. The first half of the two-hour course covers: how wine is made, vineyard location, fermentation, storage and aging, wine labeling, blending and, finally, bottling.
The second half of the class puts your knowledge to good use by tasting various wines. At the class offered March 4, there were three white wines and three red wines poured for each attendee. The selected wines were poured from bottles ranging from $25 to $35 dollars.
The class was conducted in a very comfortable restaurant-like atmosphere located in the back of the store. For the wine history and tasting course, students were provided: one bottle of water, one Styrofoam cup for spitting (only experienced wine drinker's indulged in this practice), six wine glasses filled with three white wines and three reds, and a take-home packet with a wealth of information about wine tasting and selection.
"I love the eclectic part of wine; wine is a happy beverage and the people who drink it are very interesting," said Juanice Middleton Colwell, who taught the history portion of the class.
Colwell was selected to teach based on her experience with the International Sommelier Guild. The International Sommelier Guild's mission statement focuses on helping people meet their wine and spirit needs by providing tailored expert teaching and consultation.
Kelly Harris and her partner Marc Hachach own the Sugar Land location. "Our goal at Vineyard On The Square is to take the guesswork out of buying wine for our customers," Harris said.
Harris, who taught the tasting portion of the class, explained that when tasting wine one should always start with the lighter wines then move on to heavier darker wines, and end with the sweeter.
Harris went over the visual portions of selecting a fine wine. First gauge the wine's brightness: star bright, day bright, bright, or dull. Then, she discussed clarity. Color concentration, rim variation, gas, and viscosity also play into the visual selection process.
When judging smell, first note if there are any obvious flaws in the wines aroma. Next, determine what your senses are experiencing, is it: power/alcohol, fruit/vinosity, flower/spices/herbs/botrytis/other, earth, wood and, finally, calculate the overall complexity.
The famous wine swirling in the glass is a real trick, Harris said, and not just made for TV. When you swirl the wine in your glass prior to smelling, you are evaporating some of the alcohol and releasing the aromas. Finally, the last portion of the class allows you to taste the wine. Harris explained that you take small sips and let it roll around in your mouth. The packet provided had a diagram showing where you experience the sourness, sweetness, bitterness and saltiness on the tongue when rolling the wine around in your mouth. Most of us in the class swallowed our wine at this point. Some used their glass and spit the wine out prior to rinsing their mouths with water to prepare for the next sample.
Aside from learning about wine history and tasting, we learned what temperature to store wine; different temperatures are used for heavy wines versus ones more effervescence.
Did you know that spicy food is best with cold white wine? Chilling a wine hides acidity and alcohol. Wine served at warm room temperature such as most reds, which should be 68-65 degrees (not possible in Texas), will emphasize fruitiness and tannins.
Since most of our homes in Texas are not traditionally room temperature, Colwell suggested placing your red wine in the fridge for thirty minutes prior to guest arrival. Remove the wine and let it sit for a bit prior to serving. The way you hold your wine glass can also provide further warming. For example, if you cup a glass with your hands it warms more quickly than if held by the stem.
Toward the conclusion of the class we touched on pairings. Pairing is when you decide what foods go best with various wines, bringing out the most distinct flavors. If you would like to know more about pairings a class on " Pairings from Celia's Cellar, Wine & Food Pairing 'The Big 6 Wines,'" will be conducted on Saturday, March 18, from noon to 2:00 p.m.
Celia Delahoussaye, who teaches the Pairings from Celia's Cellar, said she will be bringing about a harmonious experience with wine and food.
One of the pairings to be served is a Sauvignon Blanc wine with lemon bruschetta with roasted peppers and feta cheese. Vineyard On The Square will also host a Rodeo Roundup, featuring Texas Wineries Saturday, March 11, 2006. For more information about Vineyard On The Square and a schedule of upcoming events, visit DiscoverVineyard.com or call (281) 277-1851.