The Wines of Portugal Academy Chicago / Academia do Vinho - Advanced Level sounded amazing when we received the invitation. Held at Morton's the Steakhouse - Wacker Place, this four-hour intensive was hosted and taught by Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine (one of three individuals in the world to simultaneously hold the 2 titles, and a funny guy to boot). The curriculum included an overview of the country with a focus on the core indigenous grapes that make this Iberian nation unique. The country was broken down by its regions (from Vinho Verde to the Douro, from Alentejo to the Peninsula de Setubal, and from Bairrada to Lisbon, among others) and we tasted close to 20 wines, from among Portugal’s over 250 different grapes.
The first flight of 8, to me, was somewhat disappointing -- I'm not overly familiar with Portuguese wines, but have tasted them on and off and loved the variety at the Grand Tasting earlier this year. The first 8 wines were too tannic and harsh, but then again, it was before 10:00 in the morning, not my usual wine tasting time. The second flight of 8 was much better, with 4 or 5 of the wines I would actually buy. All along, Doug kept us entertained and educated about the grapes and regions, telling many stories about his many experiences there.
Lunch followed the morning program and consisted of beef tenderloin served with some amazing potatoes with onions, green beans, a unique green salad with a variety of ingredients, and crab cakes for those who wanted some sea food. Ironically, the two wines at lunch were probably my favorites.
The day culminated with an optional examination, which challenged us to demonstrate our Portuguese wine knowledge. Those passing the exam received a certificate attesting to that achievement, with the top scorer in the class eligible to attend an all-expenses paid Portuguese wine trip to further bolster their knowledge of and passion for these amazing Iberian wines. Needless to say, Laima and I were not among the top scorers - this was a Level III exam and we are Level I Portuguese Wine experts (if that).
This was a great morning (excepting the exam), and I could see the value of other wine regions holding these sort of educational seminars.
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