Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Wine 101 Tasting and Food Pairing at San Antonio Winery and Prize GIVEAWAY!

Wine 101 Class at San Antonio Winery

Last month, I was invited by PR Rep, Dienna D'Olimpio of Barbara Bishop and Associations, on behalf of the San Antonio Winery to attend a Wine 101 Class and Food Pairing Lunch at their downtown Los Angeles location. Although I've visited San Antonio on my own in the past and more recently, I went to last year's Boutique Beer and Food Pairing, I've never taken one of their classes. Truth be told, I'm actually not much of a wine drinker, but I'm always interested in learning more about both food and beverages in general. So I decided to take her up on her offer.

For the event, Wine Store Manager, Michael Papalia told us all about the ins and outs of wines. I have to say that I absolutely loved having him as a presenter. He was funny, knowledeable and willing to take any question. If he wasn't sure about something, he told you, but for the most part, he really knew his stuff. Unfortunately, I don't have a very good picture of him, but you can see him below in front of a slideshow presentation that had all his talking points.

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Wine 101 Class at San Antonio Winery

His talk started with Tasting Techniques and that it's basically a two part process. First, you hold your wine glass, swirl the wine in the glass and than take a sniff. The swirling actually causes evaporation and concentrates the aroma so that you can really get a sense of what the wine smells like. Second, it's time to slurp, which involves, taking a sip and holding the wine on your tongue and breathing in. By breathing in, it agitates, aerates and accelerates the evaporation which allows you to better appraise the acidity, alcohol, sweetness and texture of the wine.

Towards the tail end of the Tasting Techniques talk, we were served our first course: Puma Goat Cheese, Orange and Roasted Eggplant Salad with French Vanilla Glaze, Basil Oil and Microgreens. It was paired with a Champagne Duval-Leroy Brut from France.

Wine 101 Class at San Antonio Winery
Wine 101 Class at San Antonio Winery

As we were enjoying our first course, Michael went into more detail about how to evaluating wine. It starts with sight. Hold the wine glass against a white background and make sure the wine is clear and brilliant and not dull, hazy or murky. Now comes smell and you are using your nose to check on the aroma of the grape and to ensure that what you smell is actually intrinsic to the grape itself. Does the wine smell fresh and properly fermented? You're also sniffing for depth and complexity. Can you smell hints of cherry or chocolate?

Finally, it's about the taste. Does the wine feel smooth, velvety or round on your tongue? What's the level of astringency coming from the tannins? When it comes to your palate, sweet is detected at the tip of your tongue, acidity on the sides of your tongue, saltiness at the upper front of your tongue and bitterness towards the back of your tongue. As this portion of the presentation ends, we get pours from three different wines to pair with our second course. Those three wines were a 2008 Frog's Leap Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley), a 2006 San Simeon Chardonnay (Monterey) and a 2008 Maddalena Vineyard Riesling (Monterey)

Wine 101 Class at San Antonio Winery

I haven't been to too many wine and food pairings, but what I found interesting is that we got to sample two of our 4 courses with 3 different wines, as opposed to just one wine. It really gave you a great side by side comparison. The second course was Broiled Miso Alaskan Cod on a Potato and Chive Pancake with Miso Glaze and for me, the Frog's Leap Sauvignon Blanc was a perfect match because I thought the light crispness of this wine paired well with the light delicate fish.

Wine 101 Class at San Antonio Winery

As we are finishing up our second course, Michael goes on to discuss the grapes themselves. Some quicke facts he mentioned include:
  • There are some 24,000 names for varieites of wine grapes
  • There are 5,000 truly different varieities
  • Only 150 are planted in commercially significant amounts
  • There are only 9 grapes that are considered to be classic.
Those 9 grapes are follows: White Grapes (Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon) and Red Grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah). Other grapes that are also gaining importance include White Grapes like Gewurztraminer, Muscat and Pinot Blanc and Red Grapes like Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Tempranillo. Soon after this discussion, three more wines were poured for our third course and they were a 2006 Luigi Bosca Malbec Reserva (Argentina), a 2005 Maddalena Merlot (Paso Robles) and a 2006 San Antonio "Cask 520" Bordeaux Blend (Paso Robles).

Wine 101 Class at San Antonio Winery

These wines were matched with a Roasted Ancho Pepper Crusted Rack of Lamb on Roasted Wild Mushroom Risotta with a Pinot Noir Coriander Sauce. As I mentioned, I rarely drink wine, but when I do, I stick with whites because I don't care for the strong taste of the tannins in red wines. Surprisingly, I didn't taste much of the tannins in either of the three wines, but perhaps, that taste was lessenened when eaten with the lamb, which also has a strong flavor. I remember favoring the Malbec, but have no particular reason why.

Wine 101 Class at San Antonio Winery

Halfway into enjoying our third course and through the end of our dessert course, the focus switched to Wine Making, where Michael talked about the fermentation of the wine. Simply, it's a natural process where yeasts convert natural sugars to alcohol (which stays in the wine) and carbon dioxide (which dissipates). With white wines, the juice is separated from the skin and seeds after crushing while with red wines, the entire grape is used because the skin adds both color and tannins. For rose and blush wines, the skins are used for a short time to add color and then removed. After fermentation, the wine is put in either wood barrels or steel barrels to age. To read about the whole process, click this Wikipedia link. By this time, we are getting a pour of a La Quinta Syrah Port N.V. to be served with dessert.

Wine 101 Class at San Antonio Winery

Dessert was a Island Mango Mousse with Candied Macadamia Nuts and Toasted Coconut Shavings. I have to say that if I dislike something more than red wines, it's port, but perhaps, I haven't had a good brand before? The port that I sampled was quite smooth and maybe, with a hint of chocolate or caramel? I really enjoyed it with our light and fruity dessert.

Wine 101 Class at San Antonio Winery

Other pieces of information that came from Michael towards the end of the event included:
  • Dry wines have no sugar
  • Wines that are aged in oak barrels will pick up flavors from the barrel itself
  • The oak for the barrels come from trees between 100 to 150 years old
  • Right now, the running cost of a French oak barrel is around $1000 while an American one is around $300
  • Wines that are aged in steel barrels will have the flavors intrinsic to the grape itself
  • Barrels are used up to 2 to 3 vintages (up to 10 years depending on the wine)
  • Whites are usually aged for 8 to 10 months while Red are aged from 10 months to 2 years or longer.
  • White wines should be stored in 40-50 degree temperature.
  • Red wines should be stored in 60-65 degree temperatures. If it's too cold, it'll taste bitter.
With all that came the end of the this Wine Class. Overall, I really enjoyed this class. I learned a lot of great information. I thought that wines were paired well with the food and even better, I liked being able to compare and contrast between 3 different wines for two of the courses.

San Antonio Winery
737 Lamar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90031
(323) 330-8745

Be sure to visit for information on upcoming 2010 wine events.

Prize Giveaway!

Now that you've read about how much fun I had at the Wine 101 Class, here's a chance for you and a guest to attend the Wine 102 Class on February 21, from 1 to 4 pm for free! The total cash value for this prize is $110.00 and includes the class, the wines and a 4 course lunch. What a perfect way to spend a Sunday Afternoon. There are several different ways to enter and each way gets you an entry!
  1. Leave a comment on my blog and let me know why you'd like to win this prize.
  2. Follow Pleasure Palate on Twitter
  3. Follow San Antonio Winery on Twitter
  4. Fan Pleasure Palate on Facebook
  5. Fan San Antonio Winery on Facebook
  6. Join the Pleasure Palate Dining Group
  7. Friend Me on Facebook and Mention this Contest on your Facebook Profile
  8. Tweet: Win a Chance for Two to Attend a Wine 102 Class at San Antonio Winery via @pleasurepalate:
Only comments will be counted as entries. If you just comment, that's one entry. Remember, to gain extra extries, you can do any or of all the things listed from 2 to 8, but please comment back here so that I can keep track of everything you've done. That'll be helpful when it comes time for me to choose a winner utilizing

Contest Ends Monday, February 8 at midnight.
Winner will be chosen randomly. Please leave some kind of contact info in your comments so that I'll be able to email you if you've won this prize!



Anonymous said...

My boyfriend and I like to pretend we are wine connoisseurs when we are at fine dining establishments, but sadly, we are far from it! So I'd like to nominate us for this prize; we desperately need an education on understanding and differentiating all the different types of wines out there. =) if i win, thanks!

Andee (LAEasyMeals) said...

I would love to learn more about wine! Thanks for the great write-up. I'm following on Twitter and Facebook :)

Anonymous said...

I would love to win the Wine 101 Prize giveaway as your blog was thoroughly captivating and making my mouth water in the description of the pairing of different food courses with red and white wines. It sounds like a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon and it's a local winery to support! :) to win!

Javier (@javadrinker68) said...

I was there at the same tasting courtesy of Diglounge. It was all you described and more. Great turnout!!! I'm not a wine noob but I'd love to jump in on 102 and experience some more nice wines and food.

Following you on Twitter and FB now. I guess the next step would be to friend you up. :P

Chewie said...

one of my Wife's Favorite place to go. Love the wine I've had from there. would love to learn more.

Marianne said...

That lunch looks scrumptious! I love wine, am a collector and do winetasting and enjoy anything connected with wine. I'm already a fan of Pleasure Palate on Facebook and one of your friends, Abby, so I'll put something about the contest on my profile.

Naomi said...

As a long time member of Pleasure Palate, I have enjoyed following your food adventures and use your reviews for guidance in my culinary exploration of the LA area. San Antonio Winery has been on my list as a place to visit since I moved out here over 3 years ago, but have never been able to make any of the group events, and am disinclined to do a wine tasting on my own. As a relatively new oenophile, I would love the opportunity to go taste with a group, and learn more about food pairings. Oh, and I am a PP fan on facebook!

Fiona said...

My husband and I love wine and have even been making wine for the last 6 years. Would love the opportunity to learn more.

Ikal 1150 Wines of Argentina said...

Wow, what an evening, thanks for sharing this post!

Kat - LA Blogger Gal said...

Wow, the Wine 101 lunch looked amazing. My husband and I have always wanted to go to one of these classes, but we've never gotten around to it. The opportunity to learn more about wine and have a great lunch would be awesome.

kat (at) labloggergal (dot) com

Kat - LA Blogger Gal said...

PS - I've added, tweeted and basically just did it all (or at least, what I hadn't done yet) and forgot to add that.

Anonymous said...

Always wanted to go.


bluepupae said...

who wouldn't want to partake of one of their classes after reading your write up? sounds like you learned a lot--wine, paired with food and all of the culture and ritual surrounding it. sign me up!

Louise Gold said...

This class sounds terrific and I am sure that I would become more educated about wine if I win. Thank you for the offer and the description of the class, Abby.
My contact number is 310-822-4533.

Linda RD said...

My fiance and I have recently been under a lot of stress from both work and family events. This would be a great mini-getaway to relax!!

MK said...

I'm a young male whose spent most of my relatively short existence learning the nuances and eccentricities of whiskey and beer -- but shamefully, must admit a paltry if not slightly embarrassed base of knowledge when it comes to wine. For some reason wine has always intimidated me. Would love to an opportunity to remedy this.

languichatte said...

As always, Abby, you've described an incredible foodie experience so well that i feel as if i was there myself; except, i'm still HUNGRY! i'd really like to eat the food they serve during this class. i've never looked forward to going to school so much in my life.

Ellen said...

I love San Antonio Winery and I'd love to win the prize giveaway!

Anne M Hughes said...

I would love to win this for a much needed "Time for me" outing. I don't make it into LA for the Palate outings much as time and funds are a factor. I would definitely make time for this!

Paula said...

Hi, this is Paula, your AO. I've been to several wine tastings, but I've never been to a formal wine and food pairing. I've been dying to go to one, so this sounds great.

petite_syrah said...

I began my love affair with wine just three years ago and this wine thing seems so be a life-long learning process. I've heard great things about San Antonio Winery but have never been. Nothing shows off a wine better than when it is paired with food. Being a foodie and a wine geek I'm thinking this would be a win.. win... with wine. :-)

petite_syrah said...

Okay Abby, I do believe I conquered your entire list and got the word out. I learned a few things in the process as well! Would love to win this. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I went to San Antonio winery once, when I was a kid.
Would be nice to attend a tasting.


Francis said...

I always wanted to go to San Antonio as it's home town winery. I even was supposed to make a call on them years ago to buy my company's products but it wasn't meant to be back then as I missed the meeting. Then after all these years, San Antonio only gained bigger and more famous in my mind and this will be the perfect opportunity to really enjoy wine and food in one's home town.

DessertObsessed said...

wow this is so fancy! i would love to win because i would love to learn more about wine and i need to try that gorgeous dessert :)

Terry August said...

Sounds like a great tasting. Would love to win an afternoon like that.
We sell wine, and even sell a few that you had photos of -LeRoy Du Val an the Frog's Leap Sauv Blanc, both great wines. But it is always fun to sit down and see how others might pair the wine and food. For me that is the magic of wine - how it pairs and brings out the flavor of food and vice versa. People always ask me what my favorite wine is and I always respond with, "Depends on what I'm eating." Thanks for the write up, it was fun. Come to one of my events sometime. We have a lot of fun and non pretentious tasting. Terry

Jin said...

Hi Abby!

I did all of 2-8 plus I'm commenting to say you're awesome! Thanks for being so generous with these contests and giving us a chance to explore the foodie/wine culture. I wouldn't be able to afford going here normally so if we get this, it'd be an awesome treat!