My second Cordon Bleu wine class finishes its three-week session today with its final, and I was again impressed with how far they have come in such a short time.
This is not so much a reflection of my skills as a teacher; I’m still a work in progress in a lot of ways. Rather, it’s about what the chef who teaches the basic baking class said: “If you give them the information, and you show them why it’s important that they know this, it’s like a light bulb goes off over their heads.” And, he added with a laugh, it’s always a pleasure to see the light bulb go off.
We spent the past two days talking about wine and food pairings, and it was a pleasure to listen them to dissect a menu to match wines with it. Gone were the mistakes of the first week or so — that a fruity white wine like chardonnay was sweet; that white zinfandel was the answer to all pairing dilemmas, that all red wine tasted alike because it was bitter. Most of them even understand that whether they like a wine or not is irrelevant. The point is what the wine tastes like and how it pairs with food.
The students know what tannins are; we had a rollicking discussion of restaurant wine prices (and hopefully, I made an impression about reasonable markups if and when they get their own places); they can tell a white wine that has been oaked; and they even know who Robert Parker is.
I start my third group on Monday. Now that I have done this for two classes, I have a better idea of what to expect. (They will really want to know about how the grading system works, which surprised me.) But I will still appreciate seeing the light bulb go off over their heads.