Celebrating Women of the Vine 🍷⚗🔬

  
To honor International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I revisited Women of the Vine, an inspiring book by Deborah Brenner. In it, she examines a varied cross section of women who are making great strides in what has been, over centuries, a male dominated profession. 

Some of the women profiled came into their calling dynastically (Stephanie Gallo), some discovered their passion along the way ~ punching down the cap of discrimination  (Merry Edwards) to have a satisfying career, and one blended her love of science and unique ability to identify aromas and tastes (Dr. Ann C. Noble). 

To create exceptional wine that stands the test of time, it’s a marriage of science, instinct, wisdom, and perseverance. These women understand that very well. 

From sommelier to winemaker to marketing, to creating the wine aroma wheel, Women of the Vine gives an interesting perspective for all wine lovers, and also for girls studying science who may be looking for an alternative in science-based careers. 

Cheers! 

A Fireplace, a Wine Book, and Me

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Today, most of us are getting our game faces on, deflating (or inflating) our balls, cooking our favorite chili recipes, and waiting for the coin toss. But with the weather in the Cleve being what it is today ( “Snow likely” ) and finding myself with a little free time, and cold toes, I poured a wee glass and cracked open “Wine With Food” by NYTimes wine writer Eric Asimov and Florence Fabricant.
What I’m enjoying about the book is the precise way the wines are categorized and paired with a variety of unique dishes. Lately, i’ve found myself in a bit of a rut; cooking the same meals and pairing them with the same wine. This book inspires me to break out of the mundane menu, and makes pairing easy without being intimidating.

Have an awesome Super Bowl Sunday!

Cheers!

Easy Reader 101: The Drops of God

With the weather doing its best to make me a shut in, I thought I’d rethink my daily snow shovel workout and settle in with a book or two (or four) about wine.  The Drops of God is a Manga series of stylized comic novels about the myriad aspects of wine. Written and illustrated by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto, it begins with a quest: the two sons of a recently deceased, renowned wine expert must compete to find and identify the twelve ‘heaven- sent’ wines. Within one year, the winner will correctly answer to which wines, and what vintages, their father was referring. As the story unfolds, it illuminates the finer points of wine service; the benefits of decanting, what to look for in terms of color: How it indicates both maturity of the wine and the climate of where the grapes were grown. The books also demonstrate how two people drinking the same wine can have vastly different impressions about what it tastes like. In this world, the images, memories, sights, smells and feelings wine can evoke, may ultimately uncork its ability to heal.

Manga (MAH-Nnnn-Gah) is traditionally read from right side to left, with the panels and text also read from right

The Drops of God ~ Book One

The Drops of God ~ Book One

to left. This takes a wee bit of getting used to but the information and story is so interesting, it really doesn’t matter. The artwork of Manga is quite distinctive with characters that have large eyes, small mouths and an outpouring of over exaggerated emotions.  And what’s really amazing to me is the detail given in the novels about the wine industry (from vineyard to wine cellar to restaurant) and how looks, labels and first impressions can be very misleading.

The strength of these books is that they appeal to all wine audiences from beginner to expert.

They’re a really cool way to study and gain an in-depth understanding of the magic of wine.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2014

My Wine-y Summer Reading Pick

“Gewurztraminer is very much like a rock band that will perform only if the organizers can deliver on a long list of silly demands.” ~ Evan Dawson

When you’re on vacation, time and space have a tendency to stand still. At least they should. It’s when you get back that everything goes from zero to sixty. I had been hoping to have a few spare moments to sit down and write but reality had its own plans for the last week. And even when I got the rare chance, I’d look at the blank screen and wait for divine inspiration. And wait. And then I’d get a glass of wine and wait. And then I began to think about the moments on the dock when I settled into my book and let time evaporate.

Summer in a Glass by Evan Dawson is a great exploration into the world of winemaking in the Finger Lakes. He takes you to thirteen wineries, giving a detailed back story about how each of the winemakers got their start; how they knew that that they only ever really wanted to make wine,  and what, despite some serious hardships, brought them to the Finger Lakes region to ply their craft. He paints a lucent picture of their highs and lows, and how they all seemed to find a home in these vineyards and, for the most part, with each other.

Dawson’s tome is great study of a region, and of winemakers who ~ against many odds ~ produce some very interesting wines. They are as diverse a cast of characters as you’ll ever find, who do their thing with a lot of heart.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2013

Fun with Finals

I admit it: I was a little anxious. Yesterday was my exam for the WSET Level 1 Foundation course. I’d studied and paid attention in class, yet occasionally had the feeling in the pit of my stomach that I used to get before I wrote an exam. And it’d been a while since I’d studied for anything. While the course was only three weeks, there was a lot of great information shared not only in the study guide  but in class as well. The wealth of knowledge of instructors Paul Giudici and American Wine School Founder, Marianne Frantz, made the class so interesting and fun; their love and enjoyment of wine was infectious. We studied about the seven noble varieties, styles of wine and how other factors like oak, tannin and acidity affects the wine. We also e xplored the appropriate temperatures for serving wines (including varying temps for white and sweet and sparkling. Not all reds should be served at room temperature). We looked at the importance of correct glassware and why to keep it clean: Dust and detergent residue can adversely affect the taste.

The final night’s class on food and wine pairing  ~ the one  I missed, was in addition to my study notes that, thankfully, I had with me. I learned that: Sweeter and savory dishes can amplify your perception of bitterness, acidity and alcohol burn in your wine. Foods that are higher in acidity and salt can enhance your perception of  the wine’s body, sweetness and fruitiness. Until this class, when I’d choose wine with a dish, I typically thought only of the standard, safe-and-sure pairing principles: White wine with lighter meats and fish; reds with beef and certain pasta dishes.  I’ve since learned that it goes much further than that, in order to get the best taste experience. It’s good to consider the salt-to-acid ratio, not just in the food but also in your wine. For instance, if you’re having a dinner that’s packing some major Chili heat, you’d want to pair it with a lower alcohol white or low-tannin | low-alcohol red. Since Chili heat increases the perception of bitterness, acid and alcohol burn, pairing with a high alcohol wine would be like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. Yowza!

Once I turned the test paper over and read the questions, my nerves fell away. And to celebrate after the exam, I cracked open an ’02 Tempranillo. It was lovely and creamy; deep purple in color and tasted  of rich, ripe raspberry.

I really enjoyed my time at the American Wine School and I hope my schedule will allow me to take the other levels in the WSET Foundation series. If you’re looking for a great, fun way to improve your wine knowledge, I recommend checking out the AWS | WSET Foundation series classes.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2013

Back to the Books!

books and wine: homework can be fun!

books and wine: homework can be fun!

Summer, what summer? It’s been crazy busy and now that my daughter is safely into her new school routine ~ I still can’t believe she’s actually in high school ~ I thought I would do a little reading to help me come back to earth, so to speak. ‘The Geography of Wine” by Brian J. Sommers was a great exploration of various world wine regions and what makes them unique from a geographer’s perspective. What I liked about his approach was he took a subject that had the potential of being very dry (wait ~ was that a pun? you know my policy on puns ~ bottoms up!) and boring but made it very accessible and interesting.

If you’ve ever been curious about terroir and the role geography plays in the concept, this book summons all aspects. In a way that’s easily read for the lay person, Sommers deftly explores the biogeography of the grape, how urbanization affects wine geography, and economics ~ including the politics of wine with respect to its’ unique growing regions. In the last chapter, he discusses his own love of wine and how in each glass,  not only do you taste the grape but you taste a great deal about the culture of where it’s grown, nurtured and loved.

I’ll write more about terroir in another post but in the meantime, I’d like to recommend this book as a great reference for discovering that what goes into your glass is so much more than just fermented grapes.

Cheers!

Bookish

A New Favorite!

A New Favorite!

One of the things I love about being a student of wine is the research. And I’m not talking about the drinking part, although that is definitely a plus. It’s the discovery of books, old and new, on the subject. And there are many out there. ‘The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine” by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg was published in 2011 and boldly goes where many have gone before. But it does it in a way that’s accessible and fun.

What I like most about this book is that it is well laid out and is written in a relaxed, conversational tone. There’s no heavy use of wine jargon (which can be confusing and off-putting if you’re not an expert in the field). And if they do use it, they make sure to explain what it means. The contributing sommeliers who offer their advice, do so to help the reader get more enjoyment out of their experience with wine. It’s an approach that’s appealing and very easy to savor.

Cheers!