Knowledge brings power and purple teeth |

Knowledge brings power and purple teeth

Shauna Farnell
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyThe test is on the table at Vino-versity's purpe teeth seminar last week. The class focused on Syrahs, Shiraz, Petit Sirah and accompanying cheeses.

EDWARDS – The wine gurus of Edwards have noticed something lacking in basic education. So they opened enrollment to Vino-versity.Vino-versity consists of a semester of four one-hour lessons on wine and cheese, complete with all the necessary classroom materials: wine, cheese, and depending on the night, chocolate. Participants can opt for a full semester of education or enroll in just the courses that interest them, which so far have included a sparkling wine seminar on prosecco, cava and champagne paired with aromatic cheeses, and most recently a lesson in purple teeth featuring Syrah, Shiraz and Petit Sirah complimented by cheese and chocolate.”The whole idea was customer-driven,” said Polly Forster who owns Eat! Drink! in Edwards, home to Vino-versity. “Everybody has a basic to extreme level of wine (education). Instead of doing a wine-tasting where they were just walking around, they wanted to be in a focused, kind of classroom-style environment.”In the classroom, each work station is equipped with a lineup of wine samplings and a small plate of cheeses, chocolate and other pairing items, depending on the seminar topic.”We did it based on what is hot in the wine world,” Forster said of Vino-versity’s offered courses. “The (semester) in the summer focused more on Reisling and summer wines. This one is focused more on Syrah, on Spain and ports.”

Vino-versity has already wrapped up a successful summer semester. Edwards resident Karen Spaid, who was in attendance at last Wednesday’s purple teeth workshop, said she attends courses to meet people and to feel more informed when she buys wine.”I’ve always loved wine,” Spaid said. “I wouldn’t say I don’t know anything about it. I’m probably medium in my knowledge. I’ve learned all sorts of things – different kinds of grapes, regions, what produces from cold weather, what produces from hot weather, what’s old school wine and what’s the new stuff, sweet wines, dessert wines, port – stuff I don’t drink on a regular basis. It’s a little of everything. It’s just something fun and different.”Four wines were in the lineup at last Wednesday’s purple teeth course, all ranging in price from $14.50 to $30. The top-priced Opolo Syrah was the popular favorite among the Vino-versity students, but price doesn’t always determine the winner.”What stands out most for me about what they’re doing is how they’re giving you information and education about wines that are in a price range that we can all afford,” said Vino-versity attendee Laura Ciampa. “Most of what they pour at Vino-versity is less than $20 per bottle. Even as you know about wine, you have an opportunity to learn more about different varietals that you’re not familiar with, regions you don’t know a lot about, and you get to experience those wines without paying a fortune.”Vino-versity takes place at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Each class is $25. There are no pre-requisites for any class.”One thing I really love about the classes is that there’s all sorts of levels,” Forster said. “There are people here who are certified sommeliers who just want to taste and blind-taste, and there’s people here who have just had white zinfandel for a lot of their parties. It’s great to have those two different realms mixed together.”

What I learned at Vino-versity- Drinking Syrah, Shiraz and Petit Sirah is known to cause a temporary case of purple teeth due to the high level of tannins (skin, seeds of grapes) in each of these varieties.- Shiraz contains flavors of blueberries, tobacco and plums, none of which can be tasted with the mouth (mainly detected through the nose)- Never pick up a glass of wine by the bowl (oops)- Most Syrahs originate from the Rhone region of France

– Shiraz is the Australian version of Syrah and both use the same grape- Petit Sirah is entirely different and was once referred to as Durif. It has a higher fruit level than Shiraz and Syrah- Munster is one of the “most feared” cheeses because of its smell, but pairs nicely with Winner’s Tank Shiraz from Australia- The wisdom slips in each piece of Bacci chocolate (which come in six different languages) are eerily propheticVino-versity’s remaining courses5:30 p.m. Wednesday – De-mystifying French wines and labels, featuring two whites, two reds and French cheeses

5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2. – Espana en Fuego, featuring three whites, three reds, Spanish cheeses and chorizoClasses last about an hour and cost $25 a piece. Reserve your glass by calling 926-11393Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or, Colorado

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