I have never held a corkscrew in my life. A real one. The bare-bones, T-shaped tool carried around by servers and sommeliers, and whipped out to deftly remove foil and cork in one swift movement. I didn't pay much attention to the skill of opening a bottle of wine before. I am now.
Tonight, Randy called for volunteers to open the bottles and pour for the class. (That's another thing I've never done - helped with pouring in class. I get performance anxiety just calling for a pizza, never mind standing up in front of a group of people.) I raised my hand and lunged diagonally from behind the people in the next row, just to be sure I wasn't missed. ME! ME! ME! PICK ME!
Then I got that little gadget in my hand and didn't have a clue where to start. Gawd bless Randy, he was so patient, smiling, quietly guiding me in the proper technique, and probably thinking, "How on earth did she get this far in the program without opening a bottle?" I ignored the snickers of classmates and held my head high, as I wrestled with annoying little bits of foil that WOULDN'T. COME. OFF.
It was a rather sorry sight. Shaken by the experience, I didn't do much better pouring: some people got a glassful, some barely got a splash. Some went home with their notebooks soggy with pinot. I've never felt more relieved to set down an empty wine bottle. I slunk back to my seat, avoiding eye contact, keeping my proverbial tail tucked between my legs in shame. Wow, did THAT suck.
The wines didn't fare so well, either. One of them was so rank with sulphur we couldn't even get our noses near the glass. Another tasted like bile. No kidding. I thought to myself, "I just spent a whole week being sick; do I really need this again?" Out of six wines, only one made the grade: a Pilliteri 2002 Cabernet Franc. Dark ruby, with a predominant aroma of black olives, followed by leather, oregano and subtle floral and cassis notes. Well balanced, medium body, pleasant grip. Red fruit on the finish. Would be great with a Philly cheesesteak or some meaty pizza.
The good thing about all of this is that I get to go home and practice. I'll be spending the next 13 weeks opening a bunch of bottles of wine, all in the name of honing my skills. Gee, darn. Do I HAVE to?