December 1, 2008
Our instructor for the wine class was Jon Bonnell, of the nationally acclaimed Bonnell’s Restaurant. Bonnell’s has won the “Award of Excellence” from Wine Spectator the past four years and was rated one of the Top 10 DFW metroplex restaurants by the 2006 Zagat Survey. Jon Bonnell has been on local and national TV shows in recent years and is a big local celebrity chef so it was a true honor to have him teach our class. I have been to Bonnell’s Restaurant several times and the food is out of this world. Recently my staff at the federal prison took me there for lunch on Bosses Day and my husband and I had dinner there in November.
On the to wine class:
We heard a very detailed and informative lecture on viticulture (growing the grapes) and viniculture (process of making the wine). I learned about the difference between Old World and New World wines and how the labels of wines from Europe are always the name of the place, not the grape, as in New World wines. We were taught how to properly taste the wine, with a funny clip from the movie Sideways
where the character, Miles, demonstrates the proper way to sample the wine by examining the color, putting his nose into the glass, etc. It was fascinating to me to finally learn what one is supposed to be looking for when tasting wine and the differences in taste between wine aged in oak vs. no oak. I was able to discern the difference between the earthy taste of Old World wine and the fruity taste of California wines and how wines can compliment food.
We tasted around 23 different wines, some from Jon Bonnell’s personal collection, ranging from a common Blackstone Merlot ($10.00) to an ultra premium Kissler Chardonnay from Napa Valley ($120.00 on his wine list). He also demonstrated how pairing wine with food could be a disaster if done improperly. We tasted a piece of smoked salmon with a French Pouilly Frusse. The oily fish with the mineral taste of the wine was nasty! However, I thoroughly enjoyed tasting the Napa Papillion Cabernet Sauvignon 05 with the plates of crackers and cheeses we were liberally tasting throughout the evening. I tasted wines I had never paid much attention to before, such as a Syrah, which I really like. We ended the evening with samples of a really good Tawny Port, very flavorful, and another new taste for me.
Robert, one of the students, was really enjoying his tasting experience as you can see. We were supposed to be tasting and “spitting” but I’m not sure he followed the instructions.
I realized there is so much to learn about wine. I vowed to start paying more attention to wine and decided to look for a wine cooler so I can keep the red wines at the proper temperature, rather than sitting in a box on the floor of my pantry. I also subscribed to Wine and Food magazine recently so maybe I can pick up a few tips from there. I have also started paying more attention to wine lists and the wine selection at Central Market. Recently my husband picked up a selection of wines based on some wines I enjoyed by the glass at restaurants such as Ruth’s Chris, Stephen Pyles’, and Lonesome Dove. Those include: Napa Valley Rutherford Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 and Napa Valley Veraison Cabernet Sauvignon 2004. We also have several bottles of my long time favorite, Becker Iconoclast Cabernet 2006, from the Becker Vineyard in Fredericksburg, Texas. We go there a couple times a year and stock up on their wines.
Photo from our November dinner at Bonnell’s, a bone-in tenderloin. Delicious!