Tuesday, February 23, 2010
In Vino Veritas
Posted by Victoria at 8:21 PM
Although I'm suffering from a bit of late-Olympics-watching-early-morning-rising exhaustion, I will suffer through it to post what I've been up to these past few days in my Principles of Beverage Service Class. First of all, I aced my Mixology practical exam, in which I had to make 12 drinks in 12 minutes! Here is a pic of what I made. The list of drinks is on the card :)
Now that Mixology is over, we started studying coffee including types of coffee, how and where it is grown and harvested, and how to make various espresso-based drinks, including cappuccino (left) and cafe latte (right), both of which I made (and then drank) this morning in class! The espresso machine we use in class is restaurant grade (and size) and would cost $30,000 if you were to buy it. I think I'll invest in a teeny tiny one instead, what do you think?
Here is an example of different grades of grinding coffee beans for different uses. Coffee beans are in the top left corner, then moving down we have coarse grind for using in a French press, then medium grind for a drip coffee maker, at the bottom is a fine grind for espresso, and on the plate to the right is extra fine for Turkish (or Armenian) coffee.
In addition to coffee, this week we've also been learning about wines. We've discussed the varietals of grapes, growing restrictions, how the grapes are harvested, fermented, aged, and so on. We've also talked about the different bottle shapes, what they mean, what glasses are supposed to be served for each type of bottle, etc. So much information to absorb in so little time!! I'm a bit overwhelmed.
We also did a bit of wine tasting today, made notes of the characteristics we observed through sight, scent, and taste. Honestly, if there is one thing I have to admit that I think I'm horrible at and completely unable to do with any authority, it's tasting wine and acting like I know what I'm doing. Does that smell floral, fruity, or woody? Do I taste cherries, or rocks? Or is it just... WINE? To me it smells and tastes like wine. I can on occasion pull certain perceptions from the scent and taste, but I usually just sit there perplexed thinking to myself, "Well, I smell... wine. Kind of fruity. I mean, yeah it comes from grapes, so that's fruity. Is that floral? Nope, I dunno, it smells like... wine. Okay let's taste it. Okay, yup that tastes like wine. I'm also tasting... wine? Maybe it was aged in oak, there a little bit of woody flavor. But in the end... it still tastes like wine." FAIL. I suck at this. I know which ones I like and which ones I don't like. I just can't tell you the nuances in the flavors. I know what tastes sweet and what tastes dry. I know that wines higher in tannins (ie dry mouth-feel) are NOT for me. I just can't pick out those fancy descriptors that people read on the back of wine bottles, "nuances of chocolate, vanilla, pineapple"... yeah I get none of that, haha. I mean, I have pretty good taste buds, I can taste very specific ingredients in dishes and can tell when they've been added or are missing in certain cases, but for some reason when I taste wine, I just can't get past the taste of wine.
The best part about the wine tasting today... drum roll... was the accompanied CHEESES we got to taste and pair with the various wines. Oh yes, the cheeses made my day! We had a goat cheese, brie, cheddar, and blue cheese. Again, I could generally point out which cheeses tasted better with which wines, but if asked why, I would have no idea. It's definitely a skill I will need to develop. Nobody's perfect :)