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Making wine tasting fun – Le Cordon Bleu

Wine tasting doesn't always have to be conducted in stony faced silence, says Le Cordon Bleu's Matthieu Longuère MS. Here's some ideas to introduce a bit of fun to proceedings...

Matthieu Longuère MS’ quick guide to fun wine tasting themes:

  • Unusual wines from their country of origin
  • Historical wines
  • Holiday destination wines
  • Wines to match favourite meals
  • Organic wines
  • Biodynamic wines
  • White wines that are produced like red wines
  • White wines made from red grapes
  • The first wine that the couples at your party drank together (for the more sentimental types)

Related guide:

What happens at Le Cordon Bleu

After just over five months of studying all things wine-related at Le Cordon Bleu London, it was time to put our Diploma in Wine Gastronomy and Management students to the test.

The students were asked to set up their own private wine event at our London school on Bloomsbury Square.

The brief was simple, select three wines and make an enjoyable and rewarding presentation to a group of students who had just spent nine hours in the kitchens on a hot summer’s day.

The scenario could easily be applied to other similar circumstances.

Have you ever thought of using wine tasting as a way to socialise and spend quality time with friends in a relaxed environment?

Not all of your friends are wine geeks – probably

Maybe you have considered it but were put off by the slight (very, very slight) possibility that your friends might not find wine as fascinating as you do.

Of course, most of them are likely to enjoy a glass or two every now and then.

But long debates into the fine nuances of a New Zealand Pinot Noir from Central Otago versus one from Marlborough might send your guests seeking out other forms of entertainment; like trying to catch Pokémon in your living room.

But everyone has interests…

The key is to make the wine tasting experience as inclusive and fun as possible.

To achieve this you will need to think carefully about what you know about your guests and their particular interests.

Once your detective work is complete various options may arise.

Maybe your guests like the thought of unusual wines from their country of origin, historical wines, wines from their favourite holiday destinations, wines to match their favourite meals, organic wines, biodynamic wines, white wines that are produced like red wines, white wines made from red grapes or maybe the first wine that the couples of your party drank together (for the more sentimental types).

Wines to start conversations

Below are a few examples of the wines that our students chose for the private event that could potentially fuel conversations, or palates at your next wine tasting:

Nikoloz Antadze Rkatsiteli Kakheti, Georgia 2014:

For those who are interested in history and conscious about less manipulated food and wines, a Georgian Rkatsiteli which has been fermented in a traditional clay amphora called a Kvevri (also spelled Qvevri), utilising a technic that has been in use for several millennia.

Buy it: Astor Wines, New York, $22.99

Casa Coste Piane, Prosecco Frizzante Naturalmente, Conegliano-Valdobbiadene NV:

Not your usual style of Prosecco Spumante, it is made according to the Col Fondo method (e.g. with sediment), which sees the wine being bottled before the in-tank fermentation is completed. The yeast finishes its work in the bottle and it is sold unfiltered.

As a result, this Prosecco Frizzante is less fizzy, bone dry and presents a light haze of sediment. Contrary to other Prosecco-making methods, these wines can age and they will develop a certain level of nuttiness over a couple of years.

See a Decanter review of this Casa Coste Piane Prosecco

Buy it: Wine House, California, $19.99 (exc sales tax)

Château de Hauteville, Poire Granit, 2013

A Perry (like your more usual apple cider but made of pears) made from the fruits of 300 year old trees, and grown according to biodynamic principles. It has the advantage of being only 4% ABV and it presents the same balance and ageing potential as a dry Mosel Riesling.

All of the above examples are reasonably quirky so in order to avoid making your event too nerdy, and because these wines might divide opinion, make sure that you mix both these styles of wine and their associated stories with more conventional offers.

Buy it: Ellis Wharton Wines, £17.50 (UK)

Editing by Chris Mercer

About Matthieu Longuère MS

Matthieu Longuère is a Master Sommelier based at Le Cordon Bleu London, a leading culinary arts, wine and management school.

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