Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Class Notes: The Science, Art & Business of Wine (Class #9) - Last Lecture


Date:  Sep 5, 2011

Today is a very special class.  The highlights of the class is the food pairing with different wines.

First, let's go thru the lecture notes...

California Wines


I just reliaze that I knew so little about US Wines.  The only familiar name is "Napa Valley".

The California wine country map is divided into 15 wine growing counties. Inside each county there may be several wine growing regions or areas.


Wine Grape-Growing Regions

Central Coast – The state’s Central Coast area, including Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Monterey, Livermore and Santa Cruz, offers cooling fog and afternoon breezes that are perfect for slow-ripening pinot noir, chardonnay and other fine varietals.

North Coast – The vineyards of California’s northern coast, which includes Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Marin, Mendocino Counties, and more, are known the world over for their exquisite wines.

Sacramento Valley – The valley of Sacramento boasts flavorful grapes thanks to its Mediterranean-style climate. You’ll find thriving vineyards throughout Lodi, Sacramento, Yolo County, Solano County, Stockton and Clarksburg.

San Joaquin Valley – Known as the state’s fruit basket for its agriculturally rich valleys, vineyards in Modesto, Fresno and Madera are known for the dramatic fruitiness of their wines.

Sierra Foothills ­– The vineyards of the Sierra Foothills, which include the regions of El Dorado, Calaveras, Placerville, Murphys, and Amador, are planted in elevations of up to 3,000 feet.

South Coast – Southern California vineyards take advantage of the state’s warm days and cool, misty nights. Notable winegrowing areas in this region

include San Diego County, Ventura, Malibu, Temecula, Riverside, Cucamonga and Los Angeles.




California springs to mind for most people when considering American wines, and with good reason, as it is the leading wine-producing state in the USA today. Wineries are mostly family-owned and produce nearly a half billion gallons of wine each year, from grapes grown on over half a million acres of vineyards.

About 90% of the wines came from California.


There are about 5-10% of the wines came from the Washiton State.

Washington has three major wine-growing appellations in the Eastern half of the state. These Appellations denote regions with climatic and geographic characteristics known to be ideal for classic grape growing. Washington’s appellations are located at the same latitude as the famous wine growing regions of France, particularly Bordeaux and Burgundy.


I heard of Napa Valley.  And this is a map of Napa Valley with all its vinyards.


California wine country is breathtaking, widely varied and always an adventure. Peruse the information below ... or click on the feature above to take a narrated tour of California Wine Country with Kendall-Jackson Winemaster Randy Ullom.

SONOMA COUNTY Known for its rolling hills and rugged mountain ranges, Sonoma County may be the most geographically diverse of all the California coastal wine regions. With a wide range of micro-climates, rich volcanic and alluvial soils, and close proximity to the Pacific Ocean's cool, coastal influences, Sonoma County is home to world-class Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

NAPA COUNTY Home to some of the world's most finely-crafted Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley has become synonymous with quality. The 30-mile long valley is a patch quilt of hundreds of family-owned wineries stretching from the cool upper reaches of the San Pablo Bay to the warmer northerly inland regions of Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga. Napa Valley is home to some of Kendall-Jackson's finest mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that is farmed on steep vineyards along the slopes of Spring, Diamond and Howell Mountains, as well as Mt. Veeder.

MONTEREY COUNTY Monterey County's prime grape-growing region is located in the Salinas Valley. Bordered by rugged mountain ranges on two sides, the valley becomes a natural conveyer belt for daily afternoon coastal breezes, followed by an advancing fog bank from nearby Monterey Bay. These cooling factors and alluvial soils combine to make outstanding Chardonnay and Pinot Noir the top grape varieties grown in this region.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY Two major east-west valleys comprise the key Kendall-Jackson grape-growing regions of Santa Barbara. On the northern edge of the county is the Santa Maria Valley, specifically the Santa Maria Bench, where the afternoon and early morning fog has a moderating effect on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in the area. South of Santa Maria is the Los Alamos Valley which also draws the cool air and fog off the Pacific Ocean. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fair well in this region, but to the east of Los Alamos and west of the more widely known Santa Ynez Valley is a slightly warmer location-the Alisos Hills. This new region is building a reputation for serious Syrah.

MENDOCINO COUNTY The most northern and western of California wine regions, Mendocino County is the also the most rustic. Primarily known for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley, and from Redwood Valley and Ukiah, Mendocino County is discovering new-found fame with its mountain and hillside red grape varietals.


In a state that produces 90% of all US wine, the vineyards of Sonoma and Napa in Northern California are justly famous. But they have no monopoly on quality, the wines from the newer Southern California wineries are an equal match for any of their northern sisters.

Most Southern California wine is produced in one of two areas: the wineries near Santa Barbara or those near San Diego, 100 miles north and south of Los Angeles respectively.

Each area has participated actively in the growth of the California wine industry which now ships over 450 million gallons a year to the US and elsewhere.


Sample of Wine Labels

Wine labels give the winemaker an opportunity to suggest the uniqueness of what’s inside the bottle.  Label styles may range from a straightforward presentation of the required information to artistic paintings and drawings, but federal and state regulations require that certain information appear on every bottle.  Understanding how to decipher the required information can help you decide which wines you’re most likely to enjoy. Check out our wine label with


1.     Brand/producer name.  2.     Vintage, or the year the grapes were grown—wines must contain a minimum of 95 percent of the stated vintage if the appellation is an AVA, and a minimum of 85 percent for appellations that are a county, state, multi-county or multi-state.   3.     Type of wine—this may be varietal, generic, or proprietary.  Varietal wines, like the Chardonnay above, must contain at least 75 percent of the stated wine varietal.  4.     Place of origin/geographical growing area—to state “California,” 100 percent of the wine must come from grapes grown within the state; to use a county name, 75 percent of the grapes must come from that county; and to use an AVA (a federally approved American Viticultural Area) 85 percent of the grapes must come from the defined area. 5.     Individual vineyard—at least 95 percent of the wine in the bottle must have come from grapes grown in the named vineyard. 6.     Alcohol content—wines designated as “Table Wine” (7 to 14 percent alcohol) are not required to show alcohol content.  Otherwise, these wines with 7-14 percent state the alcohol content.  For wine that exceeds 14 percent alcohol, the label must reveal that information.  7.     Sulfite statement—sulfur dioxide is a natural by-product of winemaking, and has been used for centuries as a preservative in virtually all wines. Federal law now requires that the label reveal that wine contains sulfites.

Another Example:

  • Winery/Producer: The name of the Winery that produced this wine.
  • Appellation: This refers to the geographical growing area where the winery is permitted to grow grapes and produce wine. If the label says just “California,” 100 percent of the wine must come from grapes grown within the state; if the county name is listed, 75 percent of the grapes must come from that county; and to name an AVA (American Viticultural Area) 85 percent of the grapes must come from the defined area.
  • Estate Bottled: This term can only be used if 100% of the grapes used to make that particular California Wine are grown by that winery and the winery and the vineyard are in the same AVA.
  • Estate Grown, Reserve, Private Reserve or Vintner’s Reserve: Terms that are not regulated and basically mean nothing; just for marketing: (so you may think the wine is of superior quality). These may sound good, but they really mean nothing.
  • Varietal: A Varietal wine is one that is made from mainly one grape - the Varietal. Varietal wines must contain at least 75 percent of the stated wine varietal. Go to our California Varietals Page for details on the Varietals we cover. Our Lessor Known Varietals Pagediscusses those varietals we do not at present cover.
  • Region: Basically the AVA.
  • Vintage (or the year the grapes were grown): Wines must contain a minimum of 95 percent of the stated vintage if the appellation is an AVA, and a minimum of 85 percent for appellations that are a county, state, multi-county or multi-state.
  • Bottler: This may be different than the Winery/Producer.
  • Bottle Size: Indicates the volume of the liquid, usually 750 ml.
  • Alcohol Content:
    • California Wines designated as “Table Wine” (7 to 14 percent) are not required to show alcohol content.
    • California Wines under 14 percent may list the content with a range of 1.5 percent less or more.
    • For wines that exceeds 14 percent alcohol, the label may list the content with a 1 percent range, but not less than 14 percent.
  • Individual Vineyard: If a specific vineyard is named, at least 95 percent of the wine in the bottle must have come from grapes grown in that vineyard.
  • Sulfite Statement: Sulfur dioxide is a natural by-product of winemaking, and has been used for centuries as a preservative in virtually all wines. Federal law now requires that the label reveal that wine contains sulfites.
    • Fermented in Oak Barrels or not.
    • Flavors like fruit, berries, etc. Look for those flavor components that you like.
    • Sweet, Dry, Buttery
    • Body and Weight of the wine.
    • Types of Food that go well with that wine.
    • And the Government Warning about alcohol.

  • The back of the California Wine Label may provide some valuable information about the California Wine in that bottle:


    The California Wine Label is not too complicated once you see the diagram above, but the label does contain some nice information for you to make a good choice.


More Notes

Again, in USA, the word "Reserve" does not mean anything.  It is different from France and Italy.


A very good article about reading U.S. Wine Labels.


Other useful stuffs... The Aroma Chart


OK.  Malcom teaches us regarding the business of wine.  One important thing that he stressed... the women thought men likes very dry, strong wine, but according to a survey done with SDU, it is otherwise.  So, most men likes smooth wines.  :)

OK.  Then, Karen Lam (The teaching assistant) teaches us about the Wine Services.  How you open a wine, how you reject a wine in a restaurant (which is very slim chance), pouring rules, and etc.

Principles of Food & Wine Pairing (by Karen Lam)

Then, it come to the most exciting part of the course.  The food pairing class.  :)  It is very interesting where you get to eat the sweet, sour, bitter and salty, and how it pair with the food.

We are given 7 types of junkie food (very oily "vegetable fat" egg plant, smoke salmon (animal fat), Moon cake from Ritz Calton from Shao Yi, Lemon slice, Bak-Gua a $38 from Geylang very sweet and nice, kalamanta olive which is very salty, and bittergaude.


We are also given 4 types of wines.

Wine #1.  A very nice Sparkling Spumante.  It is slightly sweet.  Italian Greek.


Wine #2.  (no label in the picture).  Allendorf Riesling 2009 (off-dry).  This is abit higher acidic.


Wine #3.  I bought a bottle of Ruffino, Chianti Classico 2007 - Riserva from Culina @ Dempsey.  While waiting for our Chilli Crabs from Jumbo.  All I can say is "smooth".


Wine #4.  Kendall-Jackson 2007 Cab. Sav.  This wine is very very vanila smell.


So, when you have an acidic wine.  Then, if you take some lemon, it actually will cancel off the acidic of that wine, and bring out the sweetness.  I tasted this with the 2nd wine, which is acidic.  It is very sweet after taste.


Next, we have the katamanta olive which is very salty.  If you bite this, and taste it with the Wine #2, high acidic wine, it will turn the wine into bitter.  Not nice.  (Salt + Tannin = Bitter).


Then, for sweet things such as Moon Cake or Bak Kuah, you have to have a wine that has high level of sugar so to overcome or overshadow the sweetness of the Moon Cake or Bak Kuah.  Unfortunately, the Moon cake we ate is too sweet and we do not have a good high sugar content wine to pair with it.  So, it makes the Riesling so flat.

We taste the fats, two kinds of fats.  Vegetable fats (eggplants in olive oil) or animal fats (smoked salmon).  Pair it with the dry or sparkling wine will be good.

So, it gives you a certain idea and seal that idea into your mind when it comes to pair with different things.

The Feast

Tonight dinner is... Gui Hua Mee from Jumbo


Chilli Pepper crabs from Jumbo


Black Pepper Crab from Jumbo


This bak Kuah from Geylang very Tok-Kong!


Hokkien Mee


Potato Mash


Chicken breast...








Dried grapes, chedder, pepper cheese from Jones the Groccers


Celine brought the blue cheese, brie and the crackers...


And we have more contributions of wines... Penfolds Koonunga Hill 76


Penfolds Thomas Hyland Shiraz... this wine goes very well with the Chedder...


Another Penfolds but premium... Sorry, I got to have 2-3 glasses of this...


Val de Flores Mendoza ... also a premium wine...


and a Rose to go with the Chilli Crabs.  Not bad.


I enjoyed today class a lot and I can't wait for the Sep 20th gathering (sort of graduation getting together session).  They have not decided the place yet.

But we have to pass the exam next week first.  Here are the Tips and Notes...  You will pass after you learn all these.















Wait a minute... isn't this everything?  Well, study hard, you shall pass.  :)  Good luck to all my fellow class mates.  I had a lot of funs for the past 9 weeks.

I am planning to set up a Wine Class Facebook Group just to keep everyone together.  So that those got good restaurant to share, can share, those got good discounts to give will give, those found new things to share then share, etc etc.  Must find a name that is not so commonly use but easy to remember.


Related Posts:

Class #8.  http://miniliew.blogspot.com/2011/08/class-notes-science-art-business-of_29.html

Class #7.  http://miniliew.blogspot.com/2011/08/class-notes-science-art-business-of_22.html

Class #6.  http://miniliew.blogspot.com/2011/08/class-notes-science-art-business-of_15.html

Class #5.  http://miniliew.blogspot.com/2011/08/class-notes-science-art-business-of_08.html

Class #4.  http://miniliew.blogspot.com/2011/08/class-notes-science-art-business-of.html

Class #3.  http://miniliew.blogspot.com/2011/07/class-notes-science-art-business-of_25.html

Class #2.  http://miniliew.blogspot.com/2011/07/class-notes-science-art-business-of_18.html

Class #1.  http://miniliew.blogspot.com/2011/07/class-notes-science-art-business-of.html


Other Notes:

Simple rules to get started pairing food and wine.

Drink what you like.
What you like to drink always takes precedence over any recommendation that I might make.

Start by thinking about the dish or meal as a whole. What are its dominant characteristics?

Is it mild or flavorful?
Is it fatty or lean?
Is it rich or acidic?

With these characteristics in mind, select a wine that will:

Keep flavors in balance.

Match mild foods with mild wines. Match big, flavorful foods with big, flavorful wines. 
(For example, pair a bold-flavored Pepper Steak with a spicy, bold red Zinfandel.)

Similarly you generally want to match the richness of the food and the richness of the wine. 
(For example, pair a rich Chicken in Cream Sauce with a rich Chardonnay.)

You can refer to our Wine Board to see what different wines taste like.

Cleanse the palate with tanins or acids.

If you're eating a relatively rich, 'fatty' dish and thinking about drinking a red wine
(when you eat a beef steak, for example) 
you probably want a wine with some good tannins* in it to help cleanse the palate.

If you're eating a very rich, 'fatty' dish and thinking about drinking a white wine
(when you eat fried chicken, for example)
you probably want to contrast the meal with a refreshingly crisp acidic wine
such as a Sauvignon Blanc. You can ignore this rule for dishes that are just
relatively fatty - such as Chicken in Cream Sauce - which will probably
do better with a rich Chardonnay that can match their rich flavors.

Match Acids with Acids

If you're eating a dish with a strong acidic content
(such as Shrimp with Lemon or Pasta with Tomato Sauce)
pair it with an acidic wine that can keep up with the acids in the food. 

Acidic Wines and Cream Don't Mix

Rich cream sauces will usually clash with an acidic wine like a Sauvignon Blanc. 
Think about it this way...If you squeezed lemon juice into a cup of milk, would it taste good?

Wine and Strong Spices

Strong spices, such as hot chili peppers in some Chinese or Indian food,
can clash and destroy the flavors in a wine. In most cases, wine is not the ideal thing to drink.
However, if wine is what you must have, consider something spicy and sweet itself
such as an off-dry Gewurtztraminer or Riesling.

When In Doubt...

Remember that foods generally go best with the wines they grew up with.
So if you're eating Italian food, think about having an Italian wine.
This isn't a requirement, but often helps simplify the decision.

* More About Tannins

Tannins can come from many places, including the skins of the grapes used in winemaking
as well as the wood barrels a wine may have been aged in.

Tannin tastes similar to the flavor you would get if you sucked on a tea bag.
This astringent flavor is what helps strip the fats from your tongue and
thereby cleanse the palate of the rich fats from a meal and provide a refined, refreshing drink.

Some studies have also indicated that tanin might help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Specifically, tannin might suppress the creation of a peptide that causes arteries to harden.




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