Sommelier in Training – Mad Scientist for the Day

1 Nov

            Sommelier class number 2 started with some interesting exercises – we played mad wine scientist.  For the first, our teacher gave us each cups of flavor/sensation isolating liquids:  tannin for astringency; sugar water for sweetness; acetic acid for acidity and quinine for bitterness.  We were able to taste each liquid and really focus on the sensations in our mouths –not only what flavor was present, but also how it felt, and what part of the mouth perceived the sensation.  After we tasted each liquid independently, we blended them.  I was interested to discover that the whole can, indeed, exceed the sum of the parts.  While I wouldn’t serve the concoction I mixed at my next cocktail party, it was a concrete example of balance and how the component flavors of wine marry to produce the elixir I love.

            For our second exercise, we were given five unidentified glasses of wine and a plate with a sugar cube, a lemon wedge, salt, mozzarella, parmesan and a slice of jalapeno.  We tasted and described the dominant flavor in each wine and then paired each wine with each food item.  I was intrigued to see that acid and salt neutralize acid while sweet neutralizes sweet and spice.  Moreover, it was interesting, after the wines were identified, to learn why I like a Riesling with spicy Asian food, cabernet sauvignon with savory aged parmesan and pinot noir with soft cheese.

            I loved the tactile element of learning.  Balance and food pairing will seem so much more tangible the next time I describe the taste in my glass or order wine to accompany a meal.  If I had 100 career choices, mad scientist would not make the list.  But I’m grateful that I played mad scientist for a day.

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One Response to “Sommelier in Training – Mad Scientist for the Day”

  1. Bill Lacy November 1, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Thanks for all the updates Pam. I am really enjoying and learning from them

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