There are sure to be plenty of wine aficionados in the mix at Cornucopia 2010, but novices to the world of wine are also more than welcome at all of the events. In fact, a large part of the schedule for the four-day festival is tailored to those of us who are interested in learning the basics. Here are just a few of the workshops that will help you become more confident with swirling, sniffing, sipping and spitting:
Seeing Wine Through Riedel Glasses (Saturday, Nov. 13, 4:30 p.m.) $99
Did you know that the glass you drink your wine out of is one of the biggest variables in the tasting experience, followed closely by temperature?
"It has the most significant impact of any factor," confirmed David Sanders.
Sanders has been involved in the wine industry for almost 15 years. He started out working for Puddifoot, supplying restaurants, hotels and resorts with glassware, flatware and china. A few years ago he joined the Riedel team as the sales agent for British Columbia and Alberta. (FYI: Riedel has been making glassware for over 250 years and there are 137 different shapes in their collection, so they kind of know their stuff.)
Riedel's website claims that Professor Claus J. Riedel was the first designer to realize that the bouquet, taste, balance and finish of wine is impacted by the shape of the glass. So, in the late '50s, the professor began to create stemware that would match and complement a variety of wines and spirits, producing thin-blown, unadorned glasses. The first wine glass that was created that was varietal-specific was their burgundy grand cru glass - affectionately dubbed "the bucket" - which has a capacity of 1.15 litres and a suggested pour of just five ounces.
"There's a lot of headspace! But that's the beautiful part about wine; all that empty space fills up with all of the aromas that come from a complex burgundy grand cru, and they layer in there, because different aromas have different specific gravities, so the heavier ones are down by the liquid and the lighter ones are up at the top of the glass," Sanders explained.
To help demonstrate these differences to participants, Sanders will be pouring four varietals - Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Noble Ridge Chardonnay VQA 2008, Duck Pond Pinot Noir 2008 and Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Merlot 2007 - in five different glasses, allowing everyone to see for themselves the impact that the glass can have on their wine.
"Once you do it, you'll never look at the wine glass the same way again," Sanders said.
Best of all, the selection of Riedel glasses (which retail for about $150) are yours to take home at the end of the day!
Wine Access presents Killer Value Wines (Sunday, Nov. 14, 11 a.m.) $45
Anyone who wants to live (and imbibe) well on a tight budget should definitely invest in this workshop. Presented by the folks at Wine Access Magazine, this workshop is designed to demonstrate which qualities make a wine a great value, whether they're $10 or $25. A panel of wine experts, including Sid Cross, Kurtis Kolt, Tom Firth and Mark Taylor, will showcase an assortment of domestic and international wines they think offer consumers the best bang for their buck; and that's really what it's all about, isn't it?
The session starts with a blind tasting, designed to help participants shed preconceptions about grapes and regions. Then the panel jumps in with their own personal picks. And since all of the wines sampled during this session are available for sale in B.C., this session is a great chance to do some homework before heading into the holiday entertaining season.
Mini Tasting Series - Tasting British Columbia (Sunday, Nov. 14, 2:30 p.m.) $30
Explore the bounty of B.C.'s backyard with Vancouver's sommelier of the year, Kurtis Kolt, as he takes participants on a journey around the province, one glass at a time. This workshop is perfect for those of us who enjoy B.C. wines, but are unfamiliar with the various winegrowing regions. Kolt will offer a broad overview of the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, then offer up samples from the Naramata Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Falls and the Similkameen Valley.
Via this virtual tour, guests will have the opportunity to discover how different microclimates (from dry deserts to cool lakeside regions) impact the taste of wine and identify what they should look for in wines from various regions. All of the wines Kolt will pour are from independently owned and operated wineries, so you may discover a few new gems in the process, as well!