From new wine bars to ever-expanding wine lists at local restaurants and Temecula’s renowned vineyards, it seems this spirit is continually stealing the spotlight in San Diego. And, we couldn’t be happier about it.
Sure, we all love to take a knowing sniff and swirl our long stemmed glasses to play the part; but, do we actually know what we’re drinking?
Wine Smarties is a San Diego based company dedicated to the promotion of thoughtful drinking through education and consulting. Whether you’re looking to surprise friends with fun facts at dinner, trying to save money by knowing what to buy, or taking steps to elevate your industry career with wine certification, Wine Smarties offers customized tasting events and education courses to make you an expert sommelier in no time.
Lindsay Pomeroy, Founder, Owner, and Principal Consultant of Wine Smarties is your go-to gal for all you need to know about wine. From advice never to trust a self-proclaimed wine authority to how a bottle of champagne compares to a double-decker bus tire and why you should always pair a sweeter food with your wine, let’s get smart with the ultimate Smartie.
DiscoverSD: What are common mistakes we make?
Lindsay: Because people lack a foundation in wine, they follow 'authorities' or 'wine connoisseur's' recommendations, and can get sucked into thinking they have to spend a lot of money to buy a nice tasting/respectable bottle of wine.
There are tons of excellent choices out there from not huge brands, from different regions and countries that offer fantastic value to dollar. I did a wine tasting the other day where I chose 3 different wines: one that cost $10, one for $30, and one for $60. The group had to put them in order of price. Out of 25 guests, only 2 could do so correctly! So, the point is, don't always buy a wine or a brand because of its image or price. My advice is to ask the real experts (the man who works at the small wine shop) or someone like me for buying advice. And define your budget. Granted, you will not find a $3 bottle of wine that is well made, quite frankly, but you can get some tasty stuff around $10 or $15!
DSD: What are some fun facts we will learn at Wine Smarties to impress our dinner guests?
L: Red wines are made with the skins, and white wines aren't. Tannins come from the skins of a grape, hence the reason why red wines dry your mouth out and whites don't. The thicker the skins the higher level of tannin, more drying sensation and more ageability a wine can have. Therefore, your big high-tannin red actually should be laid down for some time to properly develop. It's interesting that our culture has a palate for youthful reds.
On bubbly, there are over 4.9-6.1 atmospheres of pressure inside a bottle, which is equivalent to a double-decker bus tire, so it's unwise to allow a cork to fly freely, even though it is festive. Chill the bottle down to 40-45 degree to slow down the CO2 molecules and prevent CO2 loss and injuries at your next gathering!
There is a direct correlation to color of wine and color of skin...the lighter more green tinged the white wine, the more youthful and more green flavors you will find (grass, vegetal, green apple, pear), in contrast, the more golden the white, usually, the more oak and tropical fruit flavors you will find.
A great example of this is if you were to purchase a Sauvignon Blanc and compare it to a typical Californian Chardonnay. You're not going to find the uber ripe flavor of pineapple in the Sauvignon blanc! This is also true with reds...the lighter more ruby colored the red, the more red fruit flavors (raspberry, strawberry, cherry), where the more purple the color, the more black fruits (blackcurrant, blackberry, blueberry, blackcherry).
DSD: What is the certification class atmosphere like?
L: The classes are quite structured and go step by step to get people fluent in wine. It is a lot of information and the course gives people a fantastic outline of the world wine regions, their corresponding grapes, soil types, climate patterns, winemaking techniques, and we taste the wines we are studying, which reinforces the learning. Just like any class or course you take, this is going to be information-packed more than a casual night out with the friends.
I think this course is a great way to get a clear picture about the world of wine. They you can get out there are practice using what you learned by spending time at a wine bar. You will get a lot more out of the experience at that wine bar once you have a solid foundation of knowledge. And it has been proven that people who have been certified or taken a wine course become better more informed wine buyers in their own lives.
DSD: Do certification classes teach pairing practices?
L: We teach the basics of what to look for, what to avoid, and some other tricks. It teaches you how to approach the dishes you are eating, as well as assessing the style of wine you're trying to pair it to. It forces you to slow down and pay attention to your meal pairing, and we actually pair some things up, so we practice what we discussed. An example of what we cover would be pairing sweet foods with a wine that is as sweet or sweeter than the food you're pairing it to. Try this at home...if the food is sweeter than the wine, it will bring out the wine's structure and destroy the delicate flavors of the wine. So a red paired this way would taste more tannic and acidic, and a white more acidic and less flavorful.
DSD: What is your favorite wine to drink?
L: You can't ask a wine professional that...it is impossible to answer. I love wine because there are so many different styles, grape varietals, regions to discover. Today I may have a favorite, but tomorrow it will change. That being said, I have been on an aged red wine kick. I have been guzzling wines from the early 2000s.
Want to become a Wine Smartie? Visit thewinesmarties.com for a complete list of tasting events and educational classes.
Insider Tip: The Wine Smarties presents the first internationally recognized wine certification program in San Diego: The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). The WSET courses are ideal for enthusiasts, professionals, or those entering the industry.