Monday, July 9, 2012

Weekend Wine Tasting Class at Sip…a wine store

I hope that you all got to enjoy your long holiday weekend!  Ours ended up being spontaneous and fun.  We spent the end of the week around the house being as productive as possible, so we decided to cut loose a little bit for the weekend.

We raided our voucher stash and cashed in a couple that I bought for a wine tasting class at Sip…a wine store in Cary.

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There were a wide variety of classes to choose from, and we ended up going with their Pairing Wine with Food course.

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Now, I will admit I was a little nervous about booking a class with an emphasis on food given my gluten-free restrictions.  But it turned out to be no problem!  I talked to the owner, April, just before the class and she was already familiar with the gluten-free diet and said most of the offerings would be safe for me, which I was really excited to hear.  She did suggest I bring my own crackers, which I happily did.

When we showed up, my first thought was how cute and welcoming the place was, with great displays and reasonable prices (I will confess that I forgot to take pictures…blogger fail).  They carry only organic, biodynamic, sustainable and carbon neutral wine and beer products, and advertise as being “snob-free” – and I agree with that statement completely. 

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All images above are from their website

We were set up in communal tables, and I even got to sit with two other GF people – it was actually my first experience getting to eat with someone else with my restrictions and it was so refreshing (and educational – I got some new restaurant recommendations!).  They were a great group of ladies and we really enjoyed getting to chat with them, it really added to the fun of the experience.

We ended up tasting six wines in total, and definitely ventured outside of our normal wine comfort zones.  I normally stick to reds and dry whites and Hubs is a red-only guy, so we were both surprised at how much we enjoyed the rose and moscato wines – it’s all in the food pairing!

First up were the whites – a sauvignon blanc from California and a chardonnay from France.

 Paul Dolan Sauvignon Blanc, California

This wine was served first, and we tried it with goat cheese and cheddar cheese.  The cheddar was served to demonstrate how the wrong food can destroy the wine, and it definitely did – the only flavor left was the alcohol.  The goat cheese, however, was easily my favorite food of the entire night, I kept going back to it.  I’m not normally the biggest fan of goat cheese, but it was super creamy and had just the right amount of tang to complement the fruitiness in the wine.  I was so enamored with it that I emailed April later to ask where she got it, and it turns out it’s from Trader Joe’s, meaning it’s affordable too!  I will definitely be getting some on my next trip.




  Domaine Antugnac Chardonnay, France     

This was the second wine, which we also tasted with the cheeses.  It stood up better to the cheddar because it had buttery notes, but I was still all about the goat cheese!  We also tried both whites with vegetables – raw cherry tomatoes and very lightly cooked asparagus.  Both were demonstrations of non-pairings – the acidity of the tomatoes was not good with the white, and the asparagus made it taste tinny.  However, when they brought out roasted tomatoes and a roasted asparagus salad, they were a lot more complementary since the cooking had brought out the sweetness in the food.


Next, we got a little more adventurous with a rose! 

Ameztoi “Rubentis” Rose Getariako Txakolina, Spain

I have never had much of a desire to drink rose or white zinfandel, because I always believed pink wines were sweet.  Not this one!  It was crisp and tart, with just a hint of effervescence and I really enjoyed it (just don’t ask me to pronounce the name).  They paired it with fresh cherries, dried figs and almonds.  The cherries really brought out the fruity notes in the wine, but my favorite pairing was the almonds and goat cheese (as I said, kept coming back to that stuff!)



Then they moved us into the heavier reds with a pinot noir and a cabernet.

Karl Johner Pinot Noir, Germany

I don’t have much experience with pinot noirs, and definitely have never had one from Germany before, but it was pretty good!  The color was more chocolate than red, and it had a strong mineral nose.  It was paired first with some ham, which really worked together, and I tried it with the cheeses and roasted vegetables and really enjoyed it all.



Vega Sindoa Cabernet Sauvignon, Spain

This one I ate with the same things as above.  They brought out some roast beef and roasted garlic, but unfortunately it was served on the same plate as bread so I had to pass on it.  But there was plenty of the other food left to enjoy with the reds!



Finally, it was time for the dessert finale, a sweet moscato wine. 

La Spinetta, Moscato D’Asti, Italy

I was definitely extremely hesitant to try this one, since I normally can’t stand sweet wines.  I was initially correct in my assumption when my first sip was pretty terrible.  But then they demonstrated how pairing sweet wines with sweet foods actually helps tone down the sweetness, and I liked it!  The big dessert was chocolate cake, which obviously was not an option, but April kindly picked up some dark chocolate bars for the gluten-free table so we were able to enjoy the basic flavor pairing.  I was definitely very pleasantly surprised!

All in all, a very fun experience.  I’ve been to tastings before, but nothing like this and I really enjoyed getting to compare the different foods with the different wines and see how the flavors meshed or clashed.  I definitely recommend checking out their classes if you’re looking to learn more about wine in a fun, unpretentious environment!

We capped off our weekend with a day trip to Wrightsville Beach and hung out with some friends who live in Wilmington.  It was a great way to escape the crazy heat here in Raleigh – we set a record

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Great way to finish up the weekend!

So with all that fun, I got slack on the new recipes and decided to continue that spoonful for another week.  So check out the blog this week for more (hopefully yummy) experiments in food Smile


  1. You know how many times I've been to the beach since I've bee in Wilmington? ZERO! You're beating me :)

    1. You work too hard!! I actually did see a girl with her binder and highlighter studying on the beach so apparently it can be done :-)


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