Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment. Cheers! - Bethany

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Sweet Cheeks" stages another stellar performance

I greatly enjoyed the prelude to tonight’s class—and the hilarity that ensued—in the company of my fellow wineaux, over a spectacular dinner at Algonquin’s Restaurant International. With a glass of PEC Chambourcin at my side, I relished every morsel of the miniature leek quiche with onion compote, and all components of a stunning mixed grill of chorizo sausage, pork tenderloin in b├ęchamel sauce and a filet of beef so outstandingly rare it softly mooed at me from the plate. Dessert was nothing to sniff at either: a shortbread-crusted dark chocolate tart enhanced with fresh berries. Positively yummy. And it was a snap to walk (crawl?) right next door for class.

We did two gewurz and four pinots, all blind. I was impressed with how many extra attributes I got right (namely old vs. new world; cool vs. warm climate and alcohol level) in addition to the usual laundry list of aromas, mouthfeel, weight and finish. The highlights of the night ended up being younger vintages of two of my past favourites: Dopff & Irion 2008 Gewurztraminer (Alsace, France) and Sileni 2006 Pinot Noir (Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand).

The class unanimously (except for me … again) raved about the third pinot; I found the acids and tannins ran contrary to what everyone else was experiencing, making for a rather unpleasant sip. But we all agreed the fourth wine was so terrible nothing could save it, short of flushing the contents of the entire bottle down the toilet.

And then it was time to haul out the corkscrews and bottles for Service Exam rehearsal. Randy immediately pointed at me. “Come on up, Sweet Cheeks, you need practice.” Sweet cheeks?? Whatever. I didn’t bother justifying that with a response; I’ve gotten used to the “boys’ club” mentality of the wine world, whether it’s in the classroom, at the LCBO or at wine tasting events. (But that’s a whole other subject for another time – for now, read Melissa Priestley’s excellent commentary on gender and wine in the current issue of Food&Drink.) I also pride myself in having a sense of humour, something this PC-ridden world needs more of.

I wish I could say that my technique was flawless—if only as a little “how do you like me NOW?” comeback to Randy’s remark—but unfortunately my foils all came out jagged and my corkscrew kept going in at unwieldy angles. Still, Randy complimented me on my textbook pouring and laudable table-side deportment (with the exception of a few four-letter words I uttered in frustration). Thanks for your support, Sugar Buns. I guess there's hope for me yet.

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