Get schooled

Are you tired of sitting there silently sipping while rude wine tasters intimidate you with their loud opinions? Sign up for a class, like this student, right. But make it a low-key class like Ed Manetta’s at UCI extension. Learning is more like a cocktail party where Ed, owner of The Reserve Wine Bar & Shop in Ladera Ranch, is your host. You bring your own glasses and each session starts with an assortment of cheeses. Manetta lets you get settled and starts pouring wines: lots of interesting ones in prices from $10 to $65.

Even at a pinot noir class he had a variety, starting with sparklers. He has students taste everything blind. They pipe up with their opinions as he asks specific questions about the wine’s color, body, smell, acidity, tannins, and bouquet. It will definitely get your confidence up as you learn the basic tools you need to analyze wines. You sip your way through and then he unveils the labels so you can see if you were correct in guessing their varietals and origins. Then comes the questions you’re always right about. Did you like them? Which one was your favorite?

You’ll also leave with a handout of fun facts about the topic. The pinot noir sheet was a crackup. Excerpt: “After ‘Sideways’ was released, supermarket sales of pinot noir jumped 18 percent.”

If you already have a decent background in tasting, watch for UCI’s intermediate classes starting Oct. 25 ($375 for 6 classes). And if you’re just taking classes for fun don’t miss their holiday food and wine pairing nights Nov. 7 and 14 ($200). It would be a great way to impress your friends with your newfound wine knowledge during all those holiday parties.—Anne Valdespino

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