Chain Bridge Cellars Teaches to Taste
At Chain Bridge Cellars, Diane McMartin reminds her classes to “taste with purpose.” A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America’s Accelerated Wine and Beverage Program, McMartin has developed a series of lectures to educate student sommeliers on vino basics as well as the wine world’s acquired tastes. Offered the second Thursday of every month, the “One Sip at a Time” lecture series spans whites, reds and everything fizzy in between leaving patrons with a well-aged understanding of wine and a little lighter on their feet. DC on Heels stopped by last week for their New World vs. Old World Whites installment.
Held in the basement of Chain Bridge Cellars, the no-frills intimacy of the class is in keeping with the store’s local charm. McMartin says that Cellars’ familiarity and ability to personalize has established it as an area favorite over nearby chain vendors. For the lesson, she had picked out a broad representation of white wines, comparing Chardonnay with Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio with Pinot Gris in order to demonstrate the wide variety contained in the style.
The Cellars school of wine tasting does a great job of welcoming newcomers and dismissing Sideways snobbery. First, McMartin runs the class through the tasting fundamentals: swirl, sniff, swallow, savor and share. These steps help discern and characterize the wine, giving the vintage a taste profile that you can then compare with other wines. The class’ approach to tasting seemed to be not about creating a mental wine cellar of all the wines you taste, but to narrow in on the tastes that appeal most to your palate. For instance, I found myself preferring the cleaner whites with a light body, low acidity and a touch of fruit, like the Huntaway Sauivgnon Blanc Reserve 2013. Knowing what I like will make my visits to the wine shop much less intimidating.
The class carried on merrily through eight first-rate wines with plenty of friendly chatter and delicious snacking in between. When there is wine involved, learning can be fun, and I recommend checking out the Chain Bridge Cellars’ tasting classes for some libation education!