The society’s October 13 seminar at the Columbia Sun River RV Resort clubhouse on how to evaluate wine like a sommelier was both fun and educational. The seminar was led by Glenn Grabiec, a Certified Master Sommelier, and wine society member, who has an impressive resume as a sommelier and wine judge.
The event started out with a little sparkling wine to cleanse the palate. Tables of 5 were set with bread baskets and trays of cheese, roast beef slices, small pieces of celery, and fresh grapes. These are what is referred to as “palate cleansers” in the world of wine judging. The handouts at each individual place included 2 wine tasting grids used for evaluating wines and a general information sheet entitled “Tips from a Sommelier.”
The first wine we evaluated was a white. Glenn explained how the tasting grid is used to record the “organoleptic” (sensory) characteristics of the wine. He demonstrated how judges taste by taking a small amount of wine into the mouth and then leaning forward drawing air into the mouth for aeration of the wine. This practice is a bit ugly, and is not recommended for drinking and enjoying wine with friends! You do not want to look like a wine snob.
In the white wine, we tasted apples, pears and stone fruit. It was a bit floral with some evidence of oak. It was dry with medium acid and alcohol. From the above, we were able to conclude that it was from a moderate climate made in a New World style. We nailed it as a Chardonnay from the United States and from a recent vintage. WOW!
The second wine was a red. We used the red wine grid and followed the same procedure of looking at the wine’s color; describing the wine’s aromas and flavors; assessing the wine’s structure considering sugar, acid, alcohol, tannin, and finish. Lastly, were able to determine it was from a cool-climate region and made in an Old World style. We then knew it was a Syrah from the Rhône Valley of France.
Next came the wine judging portion when the 5 people at each table became a judging panel. We were each given 3 red wines in numbered glasses to evaluate and rate as either gold, silver, bronze or no medal. At our table, it was hard to get a consensus. This was a little frustrating as everyone seemed to have a different opinion. When each of the 6 tables reported their scores, they were really all over the place. Only one table got the same scores as Glenn our wine judge. My conclusion – everyone has a different palate. Just drink what you like!
We ended the seminar with a game called “Stump the Sommelier.” If you could ask a wine question that Glenn could not answer, you would win a bottle of wine to take home. Glenn could answer most of the questions asked, but there were some esoteric bits of wine trivia that stumped our sommelier, So, 6 bottles of wine went out the door. I have to brag … I brought home 2 of those bottles!
In summary – a good time was had by all.