Professional Development

Over the past several months I’ve been expanding my beverage tasting horizons – all in the name of “professional development”… can’t teach food and beverage pairing without a well-exposed palate… in short, I get to drink for work. Did I mention how much I love the business I’m in?

In addition to attaining a WSET certification in spirits earlier this year, I’ve also been focussing on more specific beverages…

Mmmm Pretty Beers


... and some of the foods that go with them

Beer and Food Pairing:

First of all, it was refreshing to focus my attention on another type of fermented beverage for a little while – one that happens to go better with many types of food than the one I teach about (no offense wine, I still love you most of all). We tasted pilsners, ales – pale & amber, and a couple of types of stout, focussing on their acid level, body, various aromas and flavors, and perceived sweetness – all things that impact what foods go best. I found IPA to be the most versatile for its brightness, exotic aromas, and depth. I was also reminded that a chocolate-y stout is a much better accomplice for chocolate than any Zin or Cab I’ve tried with it.

Sherry Tasting:

This one was part of a larger Spanish wine tasting event… I’ve long had a special place in my heart for sherries. They just don’t get the credit they deserve – not even from sommeliers. They certainly don’t get the proper placement and recognition on my restaurant wine lists. Sherries have range (tart and light to unctuous and sweet), depth, and complexity (intentional oxidation adds new flavors & aromas, etc.) that make them a better beverage choice with many foods. I have to write a paper about this one, so you’ll probably read more about sherry here in the near future.

Scotch Tasting:

I must admit that, even after my certification class, I did not really appreciate Scotch (not a fan of peat). I didn’t realize, at the time, that there is so very much more to Scotch than smoke & peat – in fact, many don’t have those characteristics at all. My eyes were opened and mind changed by a passionate & extremely knowledgable instructor, and some really good Scotch! I’m now a convert and planning a Scotch/Whisky-only multi-course pairing dinner for the spring. More on that soon as well. Have another whisk(e)y tasting this week to keep me on my toes!

Wine Tastings:

You can never taste enough wine. Especially when you teach about it. Under the circumstances, I don’t even come close to tasting enough wine on a regular basis (professionally, that is). I’m trying to rectify that situation. In addition to the aforementioned Spanish wine tasting event, I also attended one on Chateauneuf du Pape (some of my favorite reds) and Tavel (arguably some of the best roses out there). I’ll be attending a Bordeaux tasting event this week that I will be writing about for Eat and Tell in November… will keep you posted.

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