“Just like becoming an expert in wine–you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford–you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. The you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.” ~Julia Child
“Wine is bottled poetry.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson
My last cooking class at Edom Bakery wasn’t actually a cooking class; it was a wine and cheese tasting. I enjoyed bragging about that a little bit to people who asked about our upcoming last class (people are so amazingly nice to keep up with my experiences and ask about it!) because it sounds rather chic to say “I’m going to a wine and cheese tasting; please don’t feel sorry for me.” 😉 Truth be told, however, I’ve never been a fan of wine! I only tried a few tastes from other people’s lovely glasses over the years, and always just wrinkled my nose and passed on having another sip.
Honestly, I have always wanted to like wine. It’s beautiful, and the glasses and other paraphernalia that accompany it are so lovely and so interesting to me. My maternal grandfather, Joseph Hardin, was a wine aficionado of sorts. Actually, he was an aficionado of many things; he painted, took lovely photographs, gardened, played guitar, made his own wine, etc. My sister and I get our love of learning and of new hobbies from him.
But I digress. In class last night there was to be a new teacher for us; Chef Jackson asked the owner of Edom Bakery, Bud Barry, to come share with us some of his vast knowledge of wine. We were welcomed by large trays of sparkling wine glasses and trays of cheese and strawberries. I was both excited and a tad anxious, and I confessed to Chef Jackson that I was not a fan of wine, and he assured me that I would be after the class. Nothing like an encouraging educator. 🙂
Mr. Barry had spread out on the bar at the bakery a variety of beautiful wines, from whites to reds. As he began, he discussed the misconceptions that many people have about buying wine. For example, most people assume that expensive wines will be more enjoyable to taste. He assured us, though, that many wines that are easily found in our local stores are excellent, and are under $10/bottle.
Also, he discussed that there is a small trend toward using screw lids on wine bottles, which surely causes many people to shudder in distaste. However, according to him and to a book I’m reading, called Good, Better, Best Wines, modern wines that are made for American consumption and are most popular in America are meant for immediate consumption, so storing them and intending to allow them to age is not the usual. Since that is the case, it isn’t necessary to have a nice thick cork to keep the oxygen from the liquid for months or years.
Anyway, I won’t pretend to know more than the very basics now, but I would recommend a few books if you’re interested in knowing more, as I am:
Recommended Reading List
The Wine Guy: Everything You Want to Know about Buying and Enjoying Wine from Someone Who Sells It by Andy Besch This book was recommended to us by Mr. Barry, as it has excellent charts and tips for choosing the best wines for pairing with certain meals and such. I think it will be a great resource.
Good, Better, Best Wines: A No-Nonsense Guide to Practical Wines I think I will be buying this one. It’s compact and the information is precise. For example, the chapter on chardonnay gives a brief description of chardonnay (how it’s pronounced, what its flavor is like, etc.) and then lists several brands in various price ranges and their pros and cons. Very helpful when you’re standing in a store facing a wall lined with hundreds of bottles of wines, I’m sure.
The Wine Lover’s Cookbook This book is just beautiful. I want to own it for the gorgeous photography, if nothing else. Happily, there is much more to this book than that! There are amazing-l0oking recipes, each of which, of course, include wine in the ingredients; the author also suggests wines that pair well with the meal when it is served, as well.
If you have a book to recommend that I add to my reading list, I’d love for you to tell me about it!
And, of course, Chef Jackson was correct; I did end the evening liking at least one wine that I tried! I really enjoyed the riesling. It is a nice, semi-sweet white wine, and I will certainly have it again. Of the reds that we tried, which included shiraz, bourdeaux, and malbec, I most enjoyed the bourdeaux. It has such a bold flavor , but it wasn’t as dry as the others that he had brought for us to try, in my opinion. I liked that about it. It didn’t “bite my tongue” the way the shiraz and malbec did. I’d like to try a glass of bordeaux with a dinner of filet mignon sometime! What a pair that would make, I am certain.
I will truly miss my new friends from cooking class, and the experience of being in the lovely little kitchen at the Edom Bakery and Grill with our wonderfully skilled and inspiring instructor, Chef Jackson. It has been so enlightening to me! We are getting together one last time: on Tuesday, November 9, we are having our graduation dinner at Edom Bakery, and we students put together the menu, with Jackson’s help, and will arrive at the bakery early in the day to work with Jackson to prepare the food! The best part is, YOU are invited! Here is the menu:
(click on menu to enlarge)
Finally, here is a picture of your “chefs” for the evening! 🙂 Thank you all for your wonderful support and enthusiasm!