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A night of tasting and trivia with Wine Sense

By Kevin Driver
On February 27, 2012

Need an alternate activity to take place of those expensive nights out at the bar? Wine club is your solution.

Every other Thursday night, Wine Sense, the on campus club, meets in Schultz 1121 inviting all those over 21 with $10 to experience food accompanied by a variety of wines.

According to the Wine Sense Facebook page, the goal of the wine club is to enhance the appreciation and understanding of wine not only locally, but at a global level.

In order to be a member, students must be at least 21-years-old to attend meetings. Students from any and all majors are invited to join and attend meetings. While underage students are welcome to join the club's e-mail list, they are not allowed to attend meetings.

At their last meeting on Feb. 23, WineSense offered samples from Quivira, a local winery in Healdsburg. Quivira is located in the Dry Creek Valley area, which is well known for their zinfandel wines.

While samples of the first wine were being poured, Nicholas Amtower, an employee from Quivira, described the process the wine goes through to be made to attendees.

Quivira is a biodynamic winery specializing in zinfandel, sauvignon blanc and Rhone wines.

Biodynamic farming is an agricultural system that involves using the most efficient techniques to obtain the best product. One of the ways they do this is by implementing a fermentation that stimulates the soil, increases root activity and provides good bacteria growth.

According to, there are currently 75 wineries in California that practice biodynamic farming in several areas, including Sonoma and Napa Valleys, Mendocino, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz.

After tasting the first wine, a 2010 sauvignon blanc and viognier blend, business and wine major Noam Steinhart commented in detail the qualities of this wine.

"It is very biodynamic, very earthy, grassy and organic," said Steinhart. "This is a very characteristic viognier. It has a very distinct smokey taste."

In addition to the sauvignon blanc and viognier blend, Quivira shared a 2009 zinfandel with characters of black cherry and plum accented by spice and pepper, and a 2009 Elusive which is a blend of Grenache, syrah and mourvedre.

Because Quivira's biodynamic farming technique provides the wines with rich organic flavors, Amtower insists that the second wine, the 2009 zinfandel, is a mandatory accessory on the dining table during dinner.

"You get that really nice acidity that goes really well with food," said Amtower.

By the end of the night, the crowd's favorite wine was the first one of the night, the 2010 sauvignon blanc and viognier blend.

After people had familiarized themselves with the first wines, it was time to put their knowledge to the test with blind tasting. With the room split between two teams, everyone sampled five different wines and had to guess what kind it was, as well as what price range it was in.

The students that attended whom were in the wine and business major applied their knowledge of different grapes to determine the quality of the wine. After tasting, one would base the taste of the wine off of the legs that slowly slides down the slides of the glass in order to determine the quality.

Even casual wine drinkers engaged themselves in the guessing game.

Brandi Robinson, a senior double majoring in Hutchins and sociology, used her basic knowledge of wines to make an educated guess.

"This cannot be a chardonnay—it's not dark enough," said Robinson.

Whether or not the wines were guessed correctly, the real idea behind blind tasting was to become familiar with different wines and engage wine drinkers in casual conversation. At the end of the night, Amtower offered a free bottle of wine to whomever could answer a trivia question about his winery. Steinhart's knowledge of wine helped her win the bottle.

Being held in a room that fits only about 35 people, Wine Sense is almost an exclusive club with a limited amount of space. Don't be worried about small sampling portions either. From observation, the crowd was much more talkative than they were at the beginning of the night if you follow.

The next WineSense club meeting will be on Friday, March 9 at 7 p.m. in Schulz 1121. Students are encouraged to arrive early, as space is limited. Entrance fee is $10 and attendees must have a valid ID.


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