Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Tale of Two Acidities... Part II of Winemaking Lessons on Bainbridge Island

Continuing from Monday's Part I post from guest blogger Eileen Lambert.

The Crush class participants get into the groove of working the various stations, machinery humming, shovels scraping, buckets dumping, crates lowering, hoses spraying, muscles flexing, juice samples circulating, and lots of animated conversation and good natured joking throughout.

Just as we fell into a rhythm, jamming along to Credence Clearwater Revival tunes booming out of the winemaker’s shed, lunch was called, and the elusive sun chose that moment to break through the clouds, casting an idyllic glow upon Rolling Bay Winery’s orchard overlooking the Puget Sound.

We filled our plates high with the bountiful offerings, each bite thoroughly earned, and sipped Rolling Bay Winery’s award winning, small batch wines -Manitou Red, Syrah, Pinot Gris -all receiving appreciative reviews from the group.

After a leisurely lunch (it was, after all, a ‘French Style affair’), we cleared the tables, and passed around fresh wine glasses for the blind taste tasting and sensory analysis led by Sommelier David Morris, of Wild Ginger restaurant.

We spent the next 40 minutes tasting and analyzing 6 wines, of varying origins and varietals, their identities masked in foil. David did a superb job educating the group on the various sensory aspects involved in analyzing wine.

He talked about classifying a high acid wine, where a wine can cause you to salivate like crazy, as it attacks the sides of your palate. He explained that when you feel a wine on the sides of your mouth, that indicates high tannin, and therefore a heavier weight or body to it.

He talked about how white wines undergo malolactic fermentation and how that imparts in Chardonnays that buttery taste, and how it’s a fitting description, since lactic acid is present in sour dairy products.

For each of the 3 segments, David poured us a pair of wines from the mystery bottles, which we took into our glasses, swirled, sniffed, and swished, before tasting. We were quizzed on appearance, smell, notes, acidity, and weight, compared the two, and in the end could venture guesses as to the wines we had
just tasted. I found myself surprised on more than one occasion.

The sensory analysis and blind tasting exercise was informative and revealing, and a fitting end to a day of wine theory, wine practice, and wine pairing.

To be a good winemaker, one must strike a balance between artistry and science, and today I gained a greater appreciation for both.

Being part of this inaugural Crush class did allow me to build community with fellow wine aficionados, resulting in meaningful conversations throughout the day, employing teamwork to fulfill a shared vision, enjoying each other’s hospitality through sharing of delicious food, and learning from each other’s wisdom and palates during the sensory analysis and blind tasting.

If this first Crush class is any indication, I foresee more community building happening over at Rolling Bay on Bainbridge; more people getting to know each other outdoors; over hard work, great food and wine, and a shared passion for creating a memorable experience for others to later uncork.

For a complete gallery of images from Chris Laurion from this event go here.


For anyone interested, here's the link to the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District Wine Program flyer. As participant in the class (and author of this piece), I can't recommend it enough!

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