On last week’s hot chocolate adventure, I enjoyed the company of a friend (see previous post here), but Real Life doesn’t always work out so neatly. When I signed up for a wine and cheese tasting class, I knowingly did so with the idea that I’d be celebrating Hallmark’s Love Ever After lineup. I didn’t, however, think through the fact that my class would be held the same week as Valentine’s Day and that I, a single woman, would be signing up with a class full of couples.
It seems ridiculous to me now, but this fact didn’t cross my mind until I walked through the front door of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and assessed the group assembled in the doorway: pairs of men and women who were absolutely out for a date night. Trying to quell my impulse to turn around and walk back out the door, I asked where the bathroom was and fled to the back of the restaurant to regroup. It’s all well and good to watch the movies and embrace romance from the comfort of my sofa, but in Real Life, it’s a bit terrifying being the single woman at a clearly “couples” event. However, after my moment of hesitation I rallied. At the end of the day, I couldn’t stand the idea of chickening out. I’d signed up because I really wanted to take this class! Regardless of being the lone female in a room full of couples, I was committed to this experience.
With new resolve, I climbed the stairs to the tasting room and realized that there was a group of three women whom I hadn’t noticed amidst the sea of couples. Although they were strangers, seeing the girl group filled me with relief. I took a seat next to Sara (“without an h”) who was there with her friends Rebecca and Lauren. As we engaged in conversation, I learned that it was Lauren’s birthday and they were enjoying a girls’ night out. Pointing to the empty seat to my right (the only empty seat in the room), I admitted to Sara that I was solo and it had never crossed my mind that I’d be crashing a bunch of Valentine’s dates. We had a laugh while we surveyed the room of couples, which made me grateful for New York City women, because the thought hadn’t crossed her mind either. The ladies adopted me on the spot and allowed me to join their girls’ night out. (Shout out to the ladies, wherever you are… thank you!)
Our teacher, David, set the tone for the evening, which was accessible and warm, and walked us through the steps. We would smell each wine, then taste the wine. As a class we would share our reactions about the wine. We would hold the cheese, smell the cheese, taste the cheese, and then share our reactions about the cheese. Most importantly, we would then taste the cheese and wine together.
Our class included five wine and cheese pairings. One sparkling wine was from France and four wines were from Italy. The cheeses came from Vermont (including the von Trapp Farmstead – yes, the exact von Trapp family you are thinking of!) and Oregon, and there was also one of Beecher’s original cheddar gruyere cheeses.
The pairings were as follows:
|Victorine de Chastenay, Cremant, NV
|Vermont Morbier-style cheese / Spring Brook Farm in Ashbrook, VT|
|Tasting note: I can smell pear in the wine and it tastes dry.|
|Mesa Giunco, Vermentino, 2017
|Oma cheese / von Trapp Farmstead, VT|
|Tasting note: A soft wine with a soft cheese. The wine tastes better with the cheese.|
|Tornatore, Etna Rosso, 2016
|Moses Sleeper cheese / Jasper Hill Farm, VT|
|Tasting note: It’s an interesting wine because of its elevation and access to volcanic ash in the soil. It has a bold smell, but the taste doesn’t match the smell. The taste is smooth. I love this pairing.|
|Brancaia, Toscana, 2016
|Beecher’s Marco Polo Reserve/ NY|
|Tasting note: “A bossy wine” (per my classmate Sara). Two non-spicy flavors come together to create a spicy taste – delicious! This cheese is amazing.|
|Otello, Lambrusco, NV
|Rogue Creamery, Caveman Blue, OR|
|Tasting note: Surprising! “It foams like a sorbet” (per the birthday girl, Lauren). I usually say I don’t like blue cheese, but I clearly have never tasted this blue cheese before. Wow! It’s the only blue cheese I’ve ever liked. It’s creamy, smooth, and delicious.|
The pairings were all excellent, but I tend to prefer red wines, so the last three were particular favorites with the Etna Rosso my declared favorite of the evening. In each and every case, the wine tasted better after being paired with a cheese. And it might be the cheese-lover in me, but I thought all the cheeses were delicious, regardless of whether or not wine was involved.
Despite my initial nerves, I thoroughly enjoyed this outing and remain grateful for the kindness of strangers. During this season that celebrates love, I hope you’ll remember that it’s not just romantic love that’s worth celebrating. We can take time to celebrate self-love by taking ourselves out on a date (wine and cheese tasting or otherwise!) or spending time with friends (old or new). There’s a lot of love to be had in the world, so I hope you’ll take the time to feel and celebrate that this season.