By The Glass
76 potential wine masters take course 1
THE Court of Master Sommeliers recently brought to Oahu its Basic Certificate Course, the first level of four that candidates must pass to become master sommeliers.
I was amazed at the turnout for the two days of lectures and tastings -- 76 of Hawaii's young talent listening, taking notes, swirling their glasses and engrossing themselves in this great opportunity.
All but four participants passed the written examination, and four received perfect scores. This had to be a record -- amazing!
These two days reminded me that there is a world of wine out there -- much more than what California, France and Italy have to offer -- and I was inspired to go out and try more from as many places as possible.
The participants, through their enthusiasm and passion, reminded me what it is to love wine. It was very contagious.
I know few of you are interested in pursuing wine this intensely, but doesn't the adventure of discovery sound interesting? One easy -- and fun -- way to start learning about the world of wine and all of its marvelous possibilities would be to start a wine-tasting group.
Keep it manageable. Let's say, 10 to 12 people, and look to do it once a month, perhaps every second Friday night. Everyone should bring their own set of wine glasses and at least bottle of wine to fit the designated theme for the night. The food could be potluck, with dishes again apropos to the wine theme. Some ideas:
Grape varieties: Have everyone bring a wine produced from a country and/or of a grape variety they are unfamiliar with. For suggestions go to a fine wine store and ask the clerk for an interesting recommendation. To keep things from getting awkward, set a price parameter.
Sauvignon blancs: Sample this grape variety as produced from a host of regions, such as California, France, New Zealand or South Africa. Or taste this varietal at different ages. It would also be interesting to see what kind of foods people pair with this grape.
Wine and Asian foods: Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese ... the list goes on and on. Have everyone bring a bottle they would normally enjoy when dining out at an Asian restaurant. The tasters could see what clashes with what foods and what works.
Pinot noir: This grape variety is hot now, so how about having everyone bring a bottle of their favorite? Taste one from Oregon next to one from Tasmania or Burgundy, France, and see how each wine pairs with the same dish.
The possibilities are endless. I hope this gives you a jump start. If you need advice on wines or the foods for such a party, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh, and another thought: Make sure you plan transportation to get you safely home. Be safe. Be smart.
Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier and a partner in the Sansei restaurants.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to email@example.com