Wine has long intrigued me, yet my understanding of it has been limited. So when Richard from Ellis Wine proposed a course aimed at enlightening chefs on wine appreciation and pairing, I eagerly signed up. And to add to the excitement, the course was held at the offices of Toast Brewery, promising an evening of exceptional wine and superb beer.

The Art of Tasting: Understanding the Importance of Spitting

Initially, I couldn’t grasp the concept of spitting out wine during tasting. However, Richard’s explanation about preserving taste buds and avoiding sensory numbing through alcohol made perfect sense. Sampling seven different wines, some of the same grape, highlighted the necessity of discerning even the subtlest taste profiles. By the course’s end, I found myself envisioning dishes to complement each wine, revolutionising how I approach menu planning and wine selection in restaurants.

Dispelling Myths: Rediscovering Chardonnay

Richard aimed to challenge the notion of disliking particular grape varieties, using Chardonnay as a prime example. Comparing French and South African Chardonnays illuminated how contrasting winemaking styles produce markedly different flavours. Among the selections, De Wetshoff Chardonnay “Lesca” from South Africa stood out, prompting me to order several bottles!

Unexpected Discoveries: Embracing New Wine Experiences

While all the wines were exceptional, one that left a lasting impression was a delightful floral dry Muscat Orange wine. Made from white grapes with extended skin contact and fermentation at higher temperatures, this wine defied my expectations. Despite typically avoiding such wines, I was captivated by its complexity. Richard’s insights further enhanced our appreciation, revealing its surprisingly low sugar content.

Personal Favourite: Backsberg Estate Cellars Shiraz Reserve ‘Pump House’

Among the array of wines sampled, the Backsberg Estate Cellars Shiraz Reserve ‘Pump House’ stole the show for me. Although I lack the expertise to dissect its nuances, its sheer brilliance spoke volumes. Richard’s guidance underscored the vast knowledge yet to be acquired, igniting a desire for continued learning.

A Toast to Innovation: Exploring Toast Brewery Beers

To conclude the evening, we indulged in a selection of Toast Brewery beers and IPAs, each one impressing with its unique flavours. As a company dedicated to reducing waste by utilising surplus bread, Toast Brewery exemplifies innovation and sustainability—an ethos I wholeheartedly endorse. I urge everyone to experience their exceptional brews firsthand.

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