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Learning about wine – 28.03.14

In recent years I have spent some time each year helping students at NMIT’s hospitality course learn about wine. Working with these young people is always a rewarding experience for me; they often don’t drink wine at all but service staff need to learn about it so they can give good advice to diners they will be serving when they graduate and enter the workforce.

For the chef students understanding how our senses taste wine helps them understand the relationship between wine and food so they can create exquisite treats for us to enjoy when they start working in professional kitchens.

Even though I have worked with students for several years I always enjoy seeing the light go on for them as they start to understand the wonderfully complex world of wine, from how it is made right through to how to make the most of every glass of wine they serve or enjoy themselves.

My goal is simple, I try end enthuse them about wine so they want to know more and encourage them to go on a journey of appreciating wine as it is meant to be consumed, with food, not just an alcoholic beverage.

This week, because the annual grape harvest is in full swing, I was able to give them a treat or two. On Sunday I went out to Kahurangi Estate for lunch and while I was there collected some samples of just-pressed juice and some juice part way through fermentation as well as some freshly picked wine grapes. Each year I try and visit wineries to taste fresh and partially fermented juice because it is a great pointer to the quality for the wines that will eventually be available to buy and I think it is fair to say the students got to taste some grape juice with wonderful flavour profiles.

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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