Stephanie (at Kalyra Winery to Miles, who she has just poured a glass of estate Chardonnay): So, what do you think?
Miles: Mmm. Quaffable. But, uh, far from transcendent.
Meet: Jim Doutre
Claim to fame: Wine connoisseur and instructor of wine appreciation classes
For many, the journey to wine appreciation can be a rocky path. Established wine lovers know that it takes time, experimentation, and a touch of adventurous spirit to really determine one's taste. Like most things in life, exposure is key. My personal wine exploration began early and the time line follows:
6th grade: Slumber party with bff Pam M. In a parental lapse of judgment (or perhaps to get us to go to sleep), Pam's mom gives us each a glass of fizzy berry wine.
High school: Wine on the DL every time crazy/fun/single aunt came to visit and was prepared to uphold said crazy/fun aunt reputation.
College: White Zinfandel from the box. Quantity trumps quality.
Young professional: Decide it is time to learn about wines that I can sip, enjoy with different cuisines or serve to friends. It was about time to appreciate wine. Seek expert help.
This expert help came in the form of Jim Doutre's wine appreciation class. The course covers the entire gamut of wines: from light champagnes to the heartiest of reds. Also, for all the anxious over-achievers already wondering what constitutes an "A" in a wine-drinking class; you can rest at ease. This enjoyable class is purely informative, with no stressful grade at the end of the session.
Doutre, a former wine buyer, deftly guides all stages of wine drinkers through proper wine drinking technique, with humor and grace. While, I had been taught how to cluck and chirp wines before, I was never able to pull off such a feat without coughing wine through my nose. Somehow, Doutre makes it easy and a lot less silly. He also teaches students how to swirl wine without sloshing it all over the table (a critical lesson for my significant other). As the students sample wine, Doutre humorously touches on historic wine making techniques, different grape varietals, and helps the students to explore how food pairing can affect the taste of the wine. Those who enjoy the introductory class can sign up for more advanced classes, or attend one night seminars that Doutre hosts throughout the year in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. If you are interested in a wine appreciation class in other parts of the U.S., many are available through university extension programs or find one through localwineevents.com.
With the help of Doutre, my wine appreciation path has veered away from pedestrian wine sampler to avid wine adventurer. Interested in branching out on a little wine adventure of your own? Pink Rickshaw will feature a wine of the week series highlighting some of our favorite wines. We have deemed all these upcoming wines as highly "quaffable" but it will be up to you to determine which ones are "transcendent".
image source: justglass-online.com