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Thursday, 5 April 2007

Tuesday Nights Wine & Dine

This Tuesday was the first class of our Introduction to Wine course at The Wine Society. This course goes for four weeks either on Tuesdays or Wednesdays each month. The course is quite popular, as we found out last night!

There were 18 people in the class with varying levels of wine knowledge and we had to introduce ourselves at the beginning of the class and express what our goals were from this course. My lovely husband told everyone that he was doing the class in order to keep domestic bliss and harmony, in other words, I made him take the course with me. The whole class got a good laugh from it while I turned beetroot. So I introduced myself after him as "Hi, I'm the Wife".

For me, I'm doing the class because I am fascinated with how people describe and judge wines. Sometimes, I am confused by what the waiters say when they are describing a recommended wine to me. I just nod and say "Sounds good".

The first class was an intense two hours testing 7 wines - 3 whites and 4 reds with labels covered. The instructor encouraged us to keep an open mind about what types of wine we like. For example, I've always thought that I didn't like Shiraz, but I was pleasantly surprised when I actually enjoyed the two Shiraz we tasted. Lucky for me, M and I actually liked the cheaper one.

Here are my "L-Plate" tasting notes:

1. The Wine Society Tasmanian Riesling 2006 - Pale straw colour suggesting youth. Dried paw paw and mango on the nose. On the palate dry, tangy, with notes of graphfruit and unripened kumquat, with a little apple after taste. Good length.

2. Giesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006 - Straw colour, fresh cut grass and capsicum on the nose with strong citrus fruit aromas, intense, tangy lemon on the palate and pretty good length. (I liked this one)

3. Tarra Warra Estate Chardonnay 2004 - Straw colour, dried blackcurrant, fresh citrus fruits, vanilla and hazelnut aromas with smokey, caramelised durian flavours with a hint of bitterness.

4. Smith and Hooper Wrattonbully Merlot 2004 - Ruby red core and rim. Earthy charcoal aromas with spices and oak. On the palate, tastes of nutmeg, dried sultanas and oak. (I liked this one)

5. Rymill Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - Dark red concentrated core with bright red rim. Strawberry jam, vitamin pills, cedar and pencil shavings aromas with spicy and dried blackcurrant notes.

6. Ingoldby Shiraz 2004 - Purple red core and lighter rims. Fruity plum, berries and woody overtones with a hint of pepper. (I liked this one)

7. Wolf Blass Grey Label McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 - Rich purple red colour. Aromas of ripe blackcurrant, mocha, dark chocolate, with a hint of oak and pepper. On the palate, peppery and spicy. Good length.

The course has so far taught me that you can describe the wine well without liking it but at the same time the more you can describe the wine that you drink the more able you are to distinguish what is it about a particular wine that you like. I'm also starting to know what to taste for in wines which allows me to appreciate the variety more, and have been brave enough to try even the spicy shiraz with my dining experiences.

After drinking the rest of M's Ingoldby Shiraz, we staggered to the nearby Hanabishi to have a late dinner. I haven't been to Hanabishi for awhile and the meal jolted happy memories. As always each dish was excellent, except for the Teriyaki wagyu which was overcooked and tough. Their entree is always a juicy meat ball in its little bowl of sauce. Then we had the Sashimi Main (which tends to be smaller in quantity than other Japanese restaurants), Natural Oysters Four Flavours, Scrampi Special Tempura, Deep-Fried Soft Shell Crab with Asparagus Tempura, Bamboo Leave Salt-Baked Barrumandi, Teriyaki Wagyu and Wafu Salad with Salmon Skin. Every dish was impeccably decorated with seasonal foliage such as hazelnut branches and bamboo canes. This attention to detail really makes the experience all the more special.

I'm looking forward to the remainder Tuesdays, hmmm where should we eat!

Hanabishi Japanese Restaurant

187 King Street

03 9670 1167

Food: Impeccable Traditional Japanese Fine Dining
Top Dish: Best Soft-Shell Crab (so far :) )
Atmosphere: Elegant and Modern
Service: Seemless service
Booking: Recommended


thanh7580 said...

I was looking at similar wine courses too. I've only in the past year started drinking wine and must say I know absolutely nothing either. I just know what I like as everyone says.

Your L-Plater notes are very impressive. Did you pick out all those flavours yourself? If so, you are very advanced already. I can never pick any flavours at all. I've never understood how people can pick out all those flavours. I must not be tasting it carefully enough because I have very good sense of taste and can pick out lots of things in food.

Hanabishi sounds great, been wanting to go here for a while. How much did the meal cost per person roughly?

Kazmic said...

I cheated with the tasting notes as I included what the instructor, my husband and our friends comments as we discussed each wine. Although,a few were in defiance to the instructor - unriped kumquat, vitamin pills and the fresh cut grass. He told us to put down what ever we smelt and tasted. The course will teach you how to taste and what to look for. I could taste certain favours before the course, such as citrus, tropical fruit, lavender, rose, oak, blackcurrent etc. Sometimes you just need to close your eyes and think about what the flavours remind you of. It's a wonderful thing now that we know what to taste and smell for... Now I'm willing to try any wine...

Lunch at Hanabishi is around $20, and dinner is around $50 per person.

thanh7580 said...

I hope the fresh cut grass one was a smell rather than a taste hahaha. I wish I had read your response before I went to the winery today. I will try closing my eyes next time and see what flavours I get.

Lunch at Hanabishi sounds cheap, but dinner is a bit more expensive. I still might give it a go, looks good and I've read good reviews about it.