Top 10 Takeaways from the Wine Experts at Chicago Gourmet 2019

Kristy Wenz

The interest in wine knowledge and wine education is on the rise. In fact, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), now in its 50th year, has seen year-over-year increases in candidates every academic school year in the past nine-year period, with a near 200% increase between 2010/2011 academic school year and the 2018/2019 academic school year. Here at the American Wine School, one of the oldest approved WSET programs in the United States, we’ve seen more than 15,000 students pass through our WSET programs since offerings began in 2005.

Who are all these wine students? Many of them are wine industry professionals looking to expand their knowledge base and credibility, or to advance in their wine careers; however, there’s also a significant number of consumers, particularly in WSET Levels 1 and 2, simply interested in wine basics – various styles and where they come from, how they pair wine with food, and to better understand why they like a particular style of wine. Regardless of the end goal, it’s almost always about expanding horizons, which is also what the annual wine seminars at Bon Appetit’s Chicago Gourmet are all about.

This year’s Wine Seminars, hosted by Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and the American Wine School, featured an illustrious group of wine professionals and educators sharing their tips and tricks with consumers and trade professionals alike. Here are some of our favorite takeaways from this year’s event:

  1. Wine, like performing arts, is a creative art. It’s a treat for the senses and meant to be seen, touched, smelled and tasted. And it’s also very personal.
  2. Ira Norof, CWE and Allison Hupp, DipWSET, CSW

Session: Hollywood & Wine, A Story in Every Glass

  • We owe the wine our silence and our attention, it’s a great mentor and will open itself up. Don’t worry if you don’t know the wine, or the producer, trust your senses. When someone asks you to try a sauce they’re whipping up on the stove, you don’t know anything about that sauce and are able to make an assessment. It’s the same thing. Don’t over think it.
  • Madeline Triffon, MS

Session: Tasting with a Master Sommelier

  • Wine seminars like this are great because they give you an opportunity to broaden your horizons and dispel myths, like the Languedoc is all bulk wine, when in fact, many think it’s becoming the next classic region of France.
  • Kathryn Morgan, MS and Jessica Waugh, CWE

Session: L’Art de Vivre

  • People often ask me, what is the best wine to drink now? First, I say free wine is always the best wine, but more importantly, a great bottle of wine shouldn’t be consumed by itself. So instead of a specific wine, I would just say please share it with others and enjoy the differences and beauty to be found.
  • Fred Dame, MS

Session: California, The King of Cabernet

  • Every wine has a story. To talk like a pro, or to learn to describe the wines you enjoy to a pro, you need to set preconceived notions aside, don’t manipulate the tasting experience, and put the wine into descriptive words. What does the wine resemble or make you think of? How does it make you feel? It’s a subjective experience best done while listening with the mind, heart and body.
  • Serafin Alvarado, MS

Session: Wine Chat: Talk Like a Pro

  • Champagne is my wife, but Franciacorta will always be my mistress.
  • Guy Stout, MS

Session: Pop the Cork on Sunday Funday!

  • Rooted in France, but raised in California, Robert Mondavi has given life to American winemaking as we know it today and not just by making wine, but by enriching the dining experience and our lifestyle.
  • Mark De Vere, MW

Session: Robert Mondavi, A Winemaking Masterpiece

  • Rosé – it’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner! #roseallday Fresh out of the bottle it highlights the blend envisioned by the winemaker from California and the Willamette Valley to Provence and Greece – rosé is here to stay.
  • Joseph Spellman, MS

Session: Rosé, A Harmonious Affair

  • Wine elevates the flavors of foods and so often we’re left confused about the wines to choose when it comes to ethnic cuisines. You’ve heard of Champagne and fried chicken, but let’s think outside of the box and go Prosecco with Indian cuisine.
  • Alpana Singh, MS

Ethnic Cuisines & the Wines They Love

  1. And then sometimes, there’s just a time and moment to just feel the wine. Just as in music, it is with wine. Just enjoy it.
  2. Serafin Alvarado, MS

This week’s AWS blog was written and submitted by Kristy Wenz. Kristy is a wine writer and a WSET Diploma candidate.