Introduction to Bordeaux Wines

“Every Bordeaux – red, dry white, sweet white, Clairet, rosé, or Crémant and light, age-worthy, branded, or château-bottled – has its own style”

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As many of you know, I just completed my WSET (Level 1) with Fine Vintage Ltd. here in Vancouver. B.C. so it will come as no surprise that one of my favourite sessions at the 2014 International Food Bloggers Conference was the Introduction to Bordeaux Wines. Prepared and presented by Regina Daigneault (the Wine Technology Coordinator at South Seattle College) this workshop had a little bit of everything: the history of Bordeaux, the grape varieties grown, the significance behind its soils and microclimates and of course the art form that is wine tasting.

Our workshop commenced with a celebratory glass of J’Adore Rosé Crémant (the picture featured above) and ended with a luxurious tasting flight – the perfect way to experience the signature characteristics of wines from Bordeaux. The wines poured ranged from dry whites from Graves and Pessac-Leognan to Grand Cru Class reds from Saint-Émilion.

Wine Duo

The tasting experiencewas a highlight for all attendees but I must say that I found the aroma challenge to be equally as exciting. Not to mention the perfect “ice breaker” activity for our conference. Working together at our table – competing against the other groups – our goal was to sniff and identify 10 aromas that had been infused into neutral glasses of red and white wines. Some scents seemed almost impossible to identify but when it came time to submit our answers our team ended up in first place; 8 out of 10 aromas had been identified correctly. The prize for victory? Every person on our team walked away with a limited edition Yoleaux t-shirt (see the picture on the left!), courtesy of Bragging rights too, of course.

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In true Piggy fashion, and because no wine workshop would be complete without some talk of Food Pairings, I am including some of the tips and tricks that I came away with. It is my hope that the next time you open up a bottle of something special, you keep the following in mind:

  • Body balancing! It’s all about matching the size and weight of the wine with the richness and intensity of the food.
  • Bitter can be considered a high risk taste as “bitterness builds on bitterness.” A bitter food will make a bitter tasting wine taste even more bitter.
  • Umami, “the fifth taste” has a complex wine relationship. Most people find that foods high in umami make wines taste bitter or metallic. Be sure to use salt with your umami flavours as this usually mitigates the negative effect.
  • Foods that are acidic require a wine with the same or higher level of acidity.
  • Consider pairing a food high in salt with a sweet wine; some people love this “sweet and salty” combination.
  • Sweet wines can tone down the spicy elements in some foods.
  • Fat in food attracts tannin, and vice versa. Be sure to balance your wines high in tannin with fatty meats and cheeses.
  • High alcohol wines should not be paired with salty foods. Period.
  • Beware of pairing heavily oaked wines with delicate or acidic foods.

Makes you thirsty doesn’t it?!

Well, until next time,Piggies, I’ll be here practicing my tasting technique (the five “S’s”): See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Spit. Because practice makes perfect.

Oink Oink!



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