Joe Lertch is opinionated about wine. He has a right to be. After having spent 30 years in the wine business selling, promoting, representing, tasting, judging, advocating for and teaching about wine, he is not shy about speaking his mind on the subject. And now as co-owner of The Vineyard Wine Bar in Havre de Grace, he has the perfect platform to share his opinions.
I had the pleasure of attending Joe's Wine Basics class on a recent evening. The two-hour agenda, as related on Facebook, follows:
-The 3 different styles of wine
-The 3 different types of wine
-The “5 S's"
-The proper way to hold a glass, and why certain glasses make wine taste better
-How to read a wine bottle label and understand what they're telling us
-The role BIG BUSINESS plays in the wine industry
-Different grapes, (Native, Hybrid and Vinifera), and the areas they grow in
-The difference between "New World" wines and "Old World" wines
-The role “Sulfites” plays in wine
-The difference “Oak” makes in wine
-Proper temperature to serve
… and other topics along with time for questions and answers.
After introducing himself Joe stated that he hoped our questions would extend the class beyond the prescribed two hours and that we would all learn something memorable. Success on both counts. The first memorable factoid came to light in the first five minutes. Did you know that the country consuming the most wine, traditionally France, is as of last year the United States? Really. Also, you are more likely to encounter a gem if your wine bottle states that its grapes hail from a specific vineyard or town rather than from, say, California. There was a bevy of memorable information throughout, samples of a variety of wines, laughter, and a desire by those present to learn more.
More is available to learn. Joe offers many courses at The Vineyard including region-specific and style and type-specific courses. Additionally, The Vineyard is a lovely place to enjoy a meal. There is a great emphasis here on organic produce and local sourcing. The wine shop at The Vineyard sells wines judged by Joe to be a good value and to satisfy his most critical demand of wine: it is what it claims to be.
Perhaps the best thing to say about the evening is that this was a lovely setting for a double date. Consider: learning, laughter and libation. All you have to do is get your honey and sign up.