Wine tasting at Walnut Village

When I told my colleagues I was going to a middle of the day wine tasting at a senior community in Anaheim I got that, “Wait! Whut?” reaction. I wondered why that should be surprising? It made total sense to me because I plan on enjoying wine for the rest of my life. So I had to find out how they roll out the vino to the seniors—plus we would be drinking Champagne in the middle of the day. They had me at “Champagne.”
Turns out they have a beautiful room with a piano and fireplace called the Red Chair Lounge, right. Seriously with this decor it could be a Newport Beach restaurant. Rob Klose, who works for the parent company as a grant writer, among other tasks, leads the tastings. He lives in Northern California and likes to connect with the residents when he comes down for business meetings.
He chose a Spanish cava, a New Mexican sparkling rosé, a California sparkler, and a classic, Veuve Clicquot yellow label, nonvintage Champagne. The polished flutes, the cheese tray with crackers, and the ambiance had me thinking of my 401 K. Is there enough in there for me to be a regular here when it’s my time?
Klose led off by giving tasting notes about the difference between Champagne (from France) and sparkling wine (from anywhere but made in the same style, méthode Champenoise). Knowledge of those in the tasting circle varied. Some were widely traveled and knew quite a bit about wine and beer. Others just knew what they liked and that was equally important.
Tom Kessler turned out to be Mr. Picky. “Too sweet,” he said of the Cava. He also preferred the Schramsberg blanc de noir ($29) to the more expensive Veuve Clicquot ($42) and said so in plain terms. I had to agree with him there, I think that bottle has been overproduced and overexposed, although it does have a beautiful bouquet. “I try various wines from time to time,” Kessler said. “Most I don’t like.” 
Wow! That’s exactly how I feel. He should definitely have my job if he would care to come out of retirement. (Not likely if you’re livin’ the dream at Walnut Village, so I think I’m safe for a while.)
But another wine taster, Liz Fink, disagreed. She picked the Clicquot as her fave, “It was very aromatic,” she said of its lightly perfumed, floral bouquet. The tasters seemed pretty typical of a group of any age. We all have different favorites when it comes to wines and there is no right and wrong. The best wine is the one you like.
Walking back to my car, I had that glow that always comes from a good tasting. I learn just as much from the other tasters as I do from swirling and sipping.  And I really liked the setting. Unpretentious. And everyone was super honest, no one was trying to impress anyone else with their high powered wine knowledge. I liked that.
I can see why Klose enjoys this group. My mind was filled with thoughts of coming back and bringing wines that I’d love to hear their opinions on. “I like to take my hobby to the community,” Klose said, “I love to share my passion for wine.” Good thing. He does it so well.—Anne Valdespino

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