Thursday, August 6, 2009

Nonna's Kitchen and Me, The Start of a Beautiful Friendship

I went to a really exciting wine tasting on Tuesday. Exciting because I took my first real step toward getting an actual education in wine! I think my entire wine world is about to open up right before my eyes. Before I get ahead of myself....

I registered for a wine tasting at Nonna's Kitchen, which I found on $15 to sample 7 wines from California. When I saw it on the website, I optimistically reserved two seats, confident I could find someone to attend with me - that or I would drink double the wine, I guess. Of course, my BFF Kiley stepped up and joined me for this wonderful night. She's been a huge supporter in my wine journey so far!

Nonna's Kitchen is an unassuming Italian deli located right outside of Uptown on Morehead. We arrived a little early, and didn't hesitate to sample the plate of meats and cheeses in front of us. I wasn't 100% sure what to expect, but the place filled up quickly with enthusiastic participants. Several people seemed to know each other, which I found endearing. That's what I hope for someday soon - to arrive at a tasting and see some familiar faces.

The instructor was James Corbin, who is a regional manager for Grapevine Distributors, a certified sommelier, and has earned a highly impressive wine certification that less than 100 people in the world possess (I wish I could remember the exact title)...but WOW. He stated upfront and with sincerity that wine is his absolute passion, and has been for a very long time. He talks fast - New Yorker - and was literally full of factoids, which I really appreciated. I am fascinated when people can talk fast about intelligible stuff for extended periods (think Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. I die!). Kiley and I sat front and center, intentionally, and got a few funny looks when we started snapping pics before the class started. Oops.

I might as well state it plainly upfront: Every one of the seven wines was delicious. I could not formulate a serious complaint about any one. There were two whites and five reds - a ratio I can appreciate. The list we sampled was as follows, and my notes as I remember them. I drunkenly lost the sheet on which I took said notes, so these are from the cranium. Take that for what it's worth.

Husch Chenin Blanc: Decent acidity, oily, rich feel, limey flavor.

Truchard Chardonnay: Fabulous! Good amount of acidity while still retaining some oak. James said this was his fave of the night.

Schug Sonoma Pinot Noir: I don't remember much about this one, which means I must not have been as enthused about it as the others. I don't remember any wine being bad, I'll tell ya that much!

Kit Fox Foxy Red: If I recall, this blend had a whole list of varietals included, and was full of berry flavors. It was also the most affordable on the list. It had a hot label too.

Lolonis Zinfandel: I heart zinfandel, and this one was really great! James told us that Zin is usually strong in black pepper, or blueberry (this one was peppery), but if the Zin tastes like blueberry, do NOT serve with blueberry pie! He was pretty adamant on this one! The Lolonis winery also opened 3 years before prohibition, and survived, due to some shady-ass means of delivering juice bricks and yeast packets separately. Ha!

Ehlers Cabernet: MY FAVE of the night. I'm a sucker for Cab as it is, but this was so, so great to me. It had lots of tannins, a rich fruit flavor...certain wines seem to sort of "jump" in your mouth (I know, real technical term) and this was one. Plus, you can write it off on your taxes, as all proceeds to go cardiovascular research.

Van Ruitan Petit Sirah: Kiley's fave. Dark, deep flavors, inky almost black color. Very spicy and rich.

Each tasting came with a rather large body of knowledge, and James was extremely accommodating with questions. And also - VERY patient as the group became more drunk and loud. Another highlight of the night: Alfonso, the gracious owner of Nonna's Kitchen, who was basically assisting James with the tasting. He is hilarious. It's obvious he knows about wine, but he put the group at ease, cracking jokes about getting drunk. He literally balked when I asked for water. Loved it! After the crowd thinned out, Kiley and I stuck around for an extra glass with James and Alfonso, and tried to absorb any knowledge we could. Alfonso even gave me a tasting wheel diagram!

Okay....and the best part, for me: I signed up for a 7-week class, taught by James, starting in September. He said it was super intense: 2 hours of lecture style classes, assuredly punctuated by some tastings, and he claimed that after the course a graduate would be ready for a level-1 sommelier class. I'M DOING IT. I'm so freakin pumped. Charlotte Wine Girl is about to take it up a notch!!

So, obviously the night was awesome. I learned so much, drank some fantastic wines, met some new people, spent time with my best friend, and took a step toward becoming the wine connoseur I always wanted to be. Does it get any better?!

No comments:

Post a Comment