Opening a bottle of wine

I’m going to share a story about my early days in Food and Beverage , in particular learning to open wine. In the mid 80’s I attended Malaspina College in Nanaimo BC. At that time they offered a 2 year Hospitality Management Program. One of the classes required all students to participate in the operation of a full service restaurant called the Royal Arbutus Room. Students would take turns bartending, serving, helping cook the meals and other duties. One evening it was my turn to wait on tables. Up to that point I had been a behind the scenes person as my original plan was to be a chef. I was nervous, very nervous. We had a pretty cool wine list so there were many opportunities to practice opening bottles table side. We were taught that the label always faced the customer, how to cut the foil at the right spot, as well as pouring techniques etc. What I didn’t anticipate was how nervous I would be. I’m at a table for 4 but only 2 guests so I had lots of room to work. As I slowly cut the foil my knees were knocking and I started to perspire. Well I’m working right over top of the bottle trying to get the cork out and it’s fighting back. So I fight a little harder and really started to sweat. Pretty soon it’s a disturbing display of personal moisture. The bottle is starting to give up the cork but it’s a bit dry. Frankly it was the only thing dry at the table as I started to drip sweat on the table cloth. All around the bottle are droplets of sweat until the tablecloth started to look like a composite of the Shroud of Turin and a cartoon of Bart Simpson. Finally the cork released and my Commis (noticing my distress) placed a napkin over the scene of the crime. I was able to pour the wine with no difficulties and ran to the back for a wipe down. Much laughter ensued and I was able to regain my confidence for the next round.

Now that I have opened 1000’s of bottles I realize technique is important but also good tools. One of the things that is in my bag of tricks is a corkscrew called the Durand. https://thedurand.com/ . They don’t have a wholesale program so the best way to order one is directly from the link provided

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a hybrid corkscrew that can open the toughest dried out cork with ease. If you spend any time at all opening bottles that are aged this will save you endless aggravation. If you are a wine professional and open bottles tableside this may help you avoid my “worst moment”.

Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food.

Cheers

David Lancelot

Wine Festival 101

It’s the time of year when I start to make plans for wine education and tastings for the year. The number one opportunity for British Columbia based wine lovers to taste a LOT of quality wine is the Vancouver International Wine Festival link . This year will be the 39th edition and I have been fortunate enough to attend the last 30 of those. It has been a superb source to try new wines, learn about production and trends in the more formal sit down events and talk directly with winemakers and winery owners. Each year also has a theme country. The 2017 theme country is Canada. It is a requirement of the event that an owner or winemaker be at the booth for all the public stand up tastings. I feel this has been critical to the ongoing success of the event.

winefestival

 

There are a number of lessons I have learned over the years that can make the experience better for you and for other festival attendees.

  • The best opportunity during the festival to taste a lot of wine is the Thursday/Friday/Saturday evening tastings. There is also a Saturday Matinee tasting as well. These are stand up festival style tastings where you are given a glass and each winery has its own table and they will pour you taster size portions of the wines.
  • Have a plan for the 3 hours for the evening tastings. If you are balanced in terms of your interests you might plan on an hour for whites an hour for reds and the balance of your time spent trying sparkling wine, dessert wine and re-tasting your possible favourites.
  • Avoid any application of perfume or aftershave that will interfere with your enjoyment of the wine. This is also a show of respect for your fellow tasters .
  • If you brush your teeth before the event do it without toothpaste as the flavour will persist for quite some time and affect the wine. Also if you are a regular attendee of events like this wait an hour after the event to brush as well. The alcohol softens tooth enamel and can result in diminished enamel thickness. Web MD Article .
  • SPIT ! Don’t be embarrassed to use the provided spit buckets. Practise at home in the bathroom sink if you are self conscious about spitting. You will not survive the three hours if you drink every single sample. I would also suggest not wearing and white during a tasting as spills occasionally occur.
  • Take notes if possible. Bring a notebook with you and take notes. It is very difficult to remember 20 of your favourite wines the next day. If you are not a notebook person use your phone and take pictures of the labels. Your phone is a powerful tool, use it.
  • Be considerate of your fellow attendees, once you have been poured a sample move back so others can have an opportunity. Also be considerate of the wineries pouring their wine. Ask your questions to the winemakers and owners but realize other people would like to do the same. It is also considered rude to go to a table and ask the person pouring to give you only the most expensive wine on the table. A courteous approach is to give them the time to pour you a sample of the entire line up.
  • Buy your wine at the onsite liquor store. Each vendor supplies wine for the tasting and a specific amount for the store. You can buy the wines and pick them up at your nearest LDB store later in the month. Very convenient.
  • Take a Taxi or transit or get a Hotel room downtown and make an evening of it. Do not take the risk; a DUI is not worth it.

Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food.

Cheers

David Lancelot

...34567...10...