There has been some discussion among wine educators and wine industry members about the benefits of wine education. The idea put forward was that the average consumer does not need any education to appreciate or enjoy wine. I agree to a certain extent, a large majority of consumers will enjoy wine without any formal education or training. However if you are curious and want more out of your wine then a class or two may work for you.
The main point is that wine should be fun and therefore learning about wine should be entertaining. Learning about the people who make wine, why, and the story behind the winery is a lot more pleasurable than endless facts about soil types, fermentation methods and barrel management.
Discovering a wine that you enjoy at a tasting or workshop that you would probably never tasted outside that setting can give you a life time of pleasure. We have too many formal classes for subjects so it’s always fascinating to learn and sip at the same time.
In the spirit of discovery I have put together some suggestions for summer styles of wines that are often overlooked when most wine consumers are shopping. It can get dull drinking the same old Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay during the summer months when relaxing with friends and family.
The first white style to discover are Vinho Verde wines from Portugal. They are for the most part dry, crisp and bursting with citrus flavours. These wines are first-rate and inexpensive; usually around $12 or less for a bottle. To reduce the alcohol and keep you hydrated during hot summer days add a splash of soda to the wine and a wedge of lime or lemon.
Another wine style that has been around for a long time is Riesling. Riesling has received a bad rap because of the overly sweet versions that flood the marketplace. Avoid the cheap German sweet versions and try a BC Riesling which does not have too much sweetness and balances the acid and sugars. St. Hubertus and 8th Generation wineries are good bets.
Other white wines to enjoy are Pinot Blanc from BC, especially Lakebreeze Vineyards’ version if you can find it and to add a bit of fizz try a Prosecco from Italy. There are many different brands at your local wine shop which are all refreshing, bubbly and a bit off dry.
You don’t need a Sommeliers diploma to enjoy these summer selections, but if you get hooked on these new wines and want to discover more you may want to attend a tasting or workshop in the near future.
Written by: John Gerum, West Coast Wine Education