WSET Global Week of Wine Education: Food and Wine Pairing Masterclass at the Arlo Soho, NYC

On Monday September 9th, I attended the Sommelier’s Food and Wine Pairing Masterclass hosted by WSET global as a part of their Week of Wine Education.

What’s that all about anyways?

From September 9-15th WSET Global enacted the Week of Wine Education. The purpose of this week long series of events is to engage with the growing population of wine consumers worldwide. Thus encouraging them to learn more about wine in an interactive atmosphere. More than 450 events are taking place in 45 countries over the next week. Basically, That’s whole lot of learning!

The event was lead by Eric Zillier, former Sommelier of 20 years and former Wine Director at Veritas, Alto and Gotham Bar & Grill. Eric is also a WSET Diploma Graduate and Certified Educator. Eric fully believes wine should be fun and approachable. He delivered the content with an unpretentious delivery which made everyone feel at ease.

“Swirling the wine isn’t a useless snooty thing. It’s making the wine a bit more aromatic….. Sniffing the cork, on the other hand….” -Eric Zillier

With Eric as our lead, we explored how key flavour components in food affect how you taste wine. We opened up the event with a review of WSET 2 information, such as the difference between taste and flavor. Additionally, We focused of acid, saltiness, and sweetness and how it relates to the flavors in your food.

“You can’t smell a cup of sugar, you just can’t.” -Eric Zillier

We were first served an Albariño from Rias Biaxas (Attis) and then a dense, complex, jammy fruit, currant driven Cabernet Sauvignon from Israel in Gaul (Yarden). After touching on the flavor components of the wine, we then underwent a tasting exercise. We tried lemon, salt, a bitter strip, and a marshmallow to compare it against the wines.

This was a fun review from WSET 2 and pretty much I can tell you this:

Tannins and saltiness go nicely! A full bodied wine is softened by a salty food. That’s one reason why Californian Cabs and steak are such a classic pairing. A white wine like the Albariño becomes muted and boring with the presence of saltiness, not a fantastic pairing.

Acidic foods will decrease your perception of acid in the wine. So if you’re having a crisp lemony salad and a high acid wine, that would be a successful, harmonious pairing. Complex, tannic red wines and high acid foods are conversely not the best pairing.

The same principle goes for sweet foods, the wine should be sweeter than the food you’re eating. Otherwise, if the wine lacks sweetness (not to be confused with fruitiness), it’ll taste sour. I liked neither of the wines with the marshmallow.

Last, a final foreword about food and wine pairing was issued. “Don’t be ruled by rules. We are all different so personal preferences do matter. It is food that causes more problems than wine. Most wines will be relatively palatable with most foods for most people.” To some extent, I agree with this guiding principle. Your food and wine pairing preferences will be as unique as you are. I personally don’t enjoy dark chocolate and Cabernet. Many people do, but that is not my preference. It’s all good people!!

Deniece Bourne, WSET business development advisor, did a fantastic job coordinating this event. We ended the presentation with a Blanc de Noirs Cava toast, this was to celebrate wine education! Afterwards we headed out to the deck and was served a selection of wines paired with passed hors d’oeuvres & crudités.

Overall, I think that the event only scratched the surface of what you can learn with the WSET program. By providing yourself with an education in wine it makes you a well educated consumer. Not a wine snob. You will better enjoy your wine and dinning experiences. In a diverse food city like New York, that is essential. Wine should be fun, not overly complicated! I shouldn’t sit down at a resturant and be perplexed by the wine list. An education with WSET will certainly provide you with the tools you need to navigate the eclectic New York dining scene!

I’m happy that I’ve gone as high as WSET 3, the investment I’ve made in myself is priceless. Hope you join me 🙂

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