FOR THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
For centuries, wine has been a staple at many dinner tables. While it’s true that there are no hard and fast rules about matching food and wine, picking the right bottle can enhance the dining experience.
Edgecombe Community College (ECC) is offering local residents a chance to learn the basics of wine and food pairing in a three-part class that will focus on more than just matching red wine with steak and white wine with fish.
“Wine is no longer thought of as an upper class beverage, and people want to learn more about what they’re drinking,” explains Inez Ribustello, a nationally recognized sommelier who spent years in New York as beverage director for a pair of prestigious restaurants - Windows on the World in the World Trade Center and the Blue Fin in the W Hotel-Times Square.
“People also are learning about the health benefits of wine and eating healthier.”
Ribustello is one of three instructors for the class. She says a love of wine is not a prerequisite for the course. She and her co-instructors want to reduce the anxiety of choosing the proper wines.
“First, there are no right or wrong answers,” says Kathy Dikeman, a self-proclaimed “foodie” who has taken Chef’s Choice classes at Johnson & Wales University. “There are different taste buds in your mouth, and we’ll help you understand the flavors of your mouth. We’ll be identifying those different taste buds and how they react to the food and wine.
“These are three sessions that will give you a basis for wine tasting.”
The class meets 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, June 11-25, in Fleming 125, on the Tarboro campus.
The focus of the first class on June 11 is an introduction to wine tasting. Ribustello, who co-owns On the Square restaurant and wine store in Tarboro, will take students through a sampling of wines from around the world, discussing the technical aspect of wine, including body, style, tannins and acidity, to the romantic and intriguing side of choosing the right wine.
Dikeman, a longtime instructor in nutrition, will take the lead in the second session, scheduled for June 18. Types of food typically pair well with types of wine, and Dikeman will share with students what tastes complement each other.
Instead of serving a three- or five-course meal with wine in the class, Dikeman will offer tastes of food, such as a chip that will serve as an example of saltiness or a sugar cookie that will bring out the sweet taste buds in your mouth. Then she will show students what wine goes well with that taste, helping the class develop a taste chart to take home.
“This is not a meal,” Dikeman says. “If you come hungry, you’re going to leave hungry.”
The last class on June 25 will focus on wine and cheese. Instructor Michael Procino says he has been a turophile - or cheese lover - since he was young. He is a member of Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, an international food and wine society.
Procino will help students match wines with cheeses. He says he wants to show people that there are more cheeses in the world than just cheddar and brie. With thousands of cheese varieties in Europe, the United States still is playing catch-up in cheese making, he says.
Like the other instructors, he says he will use wines and cheeses that are readily available locally or online and affordable.
“There’s been a lot of excitement in the area,” explains Procino, who has taught wine and cheese pairing in the past. “We want people to get out and try something different, and they might find something they like.”
“This is about having fun, not an academic experience.”
Tuition for the class is $65; wine and food is an extra $20 per session. Pre-registration is required. Please contact HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"email@example.com or 823-5166, ext. 293.