I am a very very VERY proud alumna of Mount Holyoke College, to which all of my friends and family will attest, and for years I have served on the board of our Boston area Alumnae Club, which aims to bring together women in the area for networking, socializing, exploring Boston, and making new connections. This week, we organized a wine and cheese tasting at the Boston Wine School and I couldn’t resist; I am a food photographer, after all! I had to bring along a camera and document the delicious goodies!
When we arrived for the class, the founder of The Boston Wine School, Jonathan Alsop, had already set out plates of cheese, glasses of Prosecco, and a delicious dish of Labne Kefir and toast. Labne, we learned, is a cow’s milk cheese from the Eastern Mediterranean that is something akin to a strained yogurt. It’s paired with Prosecco because they both share what he called “a relative lightness” and simplicity.
Next, we took our seats and went around the table introducing ourselves and our knowledge (or lack thereof) of wine. Many of us had learned about wine while studying abroad in Europe or South America, and many of us admitted that price was a major deciding factor when choosing a wine. I didn’t feel like the cheapest one in the room, which was a first. Then Jonathan talked for a bit about how to taste wine, and walked us through our first tasting, an Italian Pinot Grigio called Colterenzio.
As it turns out, when you are tasting wine, there are 7 steps to what Jonathan calls a Technical Wine Tasting: See, sniff, swirl, smell, sip, swish, and spit. If you want to know what you accomplish with each one of the S’s, you’ll have to take the class 🙂 Suffice it to say that we all did lots of swishing, sipping, and swirling and very little spitting…
With each glass of wine, there was a cheese pairing – designed to compliment the flavor of the wine. With the Pinot we had mozzarella fresca; with the Chenin Blanc we had Chevre; with the Zinfandel we tasted a French-swiss cheese; camembert with a Chilean red wine; and stilton cheese with our dessert wine.
The 14 of us who were taking the class all started very tame, taking notes as Jonathan spoke and nodding in all the right places. By the end of the evening, it felt like a dinner party with old friends – I confess I didn’t hear a word he said about the last few wines we tasted. But I learned some things, I ate and drank well, I took a few cool photos. But most importantly for me, I got to spend a Wednesday evening drinking wine among old college friends, which has got to be one of the best ways to pass the time.