Blast from the past: Oenophiles enjoy evening of tasting
Robert J. Misch proved why wines “always make my friends more interesting” in a lecture Tuesday evening in Alumni Hall. The “chevalier du tastevin” dispelled some old myths about wine and gave some tips to the more than 100 people there.
Mr. Misch, who is an author, lecturer and a member of the U.S. State Department committee for wine counsel, first gave the history of wine making and the fermentation process. He quoted liberally from Thomas Jefferson’s comments about a trip he made to many wine industries while ambassador to France.
He explained that the color of wine is due to the length of time the skins are left in the vat. For example, white wine usually has no skins in the vat; pink wine require skins to be in the vat for 24 to 36 hours, and red wines require a longer time. He said it really did not matter which wines were served with certain dishes.
He suggested appetizer wines be served with cheese snacks; white dinner wines for lighter dishes like fish, chicken, white meats, omelets; red dinner wines for hearty dishes like stakes, chops, roasts, game, spaghetti, and champagne and sparkling wines for all types of food. He added that tasting depended on the three senses — sight, smell and taste. The sight test included holding the glass by the stem, raising it to the light and noting color and clarity. To smell the wine one should twirl the wine in the glass, sniff for aroma and bouquet. Bouquet is the more subtle fragrance which comes from the fermenting and aging processes.
To taste the wine, one should sip the wine, hold it in the mouth a moment, slowly rolling it around with the tongue, noting the pleasant tartness or richness, body or consistency for the distinctive flavor. The final move is to swallow and enjoy the aftertaste.
Mr. Misch’s discussion of wines was principally concerned with the wines of the United States, particularly California wines, and all of the wines offered for tasting were California products. This is not but so surprising considering that Mr. Misch is employed by the Wine Institute in San Francisco. His selection of California wines included brands that can be purchased locally, including Almaden, Paul Masson, Louis Martini, Wente Brothers, and Italian Swiss Colony.
Following his remarks, Mr. Misch turned the audience’s attention to the wines themselves, which was hardly necessary. His final warning to the assemblage was to test the wines (for color, aroma and clarity) and taste rather than go off into a corner and drink. Some of the guests took his advice. Others, needless to say, did not.
This article was published in The Cavalier Daily Friday, March 22, 1968.