The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2012

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EDUCATION Where the Teachers F LUMINARIES SHINE AT SWE 2012 Learn story and photos by Deborah Parker Wong ifty presenters speaking to groups both large and small packed a lifetime of learning into three days of concurrent seminars during this year's Society of Wine Educators conference held in San Mateo, CA. The 325 wine educa- tors in attendance, some of whom came from Brazil, Canada, England and Japan, had their pick of topics, from Alsace to Zinfandel and a wealth of insightful content in between. Tim Gaiser, MS kicked off the first full day of sessions with a romp through a large flight of Germany's trocken Rieslings, and Master of Wine Debra Meiburg's seminar on Friuli-Venezia Giulia was standing room only. "The SWE now has 5,000 educators who are Certified Specialists of Wine (CSW) and 370 Certified Wine Educators (CWE)," said Mark Chandler, spokes- person for the organization. "The depth and diversity of the content presented at this year's conference distinguishes us as the preeminent source of information for wine educators." Chandler offered his own expertise in a seminar on produc- ers from the Lodi region titled "LoCA: What You Call Crazy, We Call Passion," which showcased the region's award-winning wines. THE TASTING PANEL was among those looking for insights into some of the wine industry's most challenging topics, and we found both answers and inspira- tion at every turn. These are just a few of the luminaries who shared their subject matter expertise and no-holds barred passion for the task at hand: advancing the personal conviction, professional development and the collective knowledge of the industry's wine educators. Tim Gaiser, MS introduced a tasting technique based on olfactory memory and visualization. Becoming a Better Taster Tim Gaiser, MS tackles palate development using visualization techniques similar to those used by elite athletes, who often describe their performance as "being in the zone," a mental state where actions unfold in slow motion and distractions are screened out. In Gaiser's presentation he summarized the performance of eight professional tasters who are, in effect, Olympic athletes of tasting. Gaiser has mapped both his own and their tasting strategies as a guide to teaching others how to develop and exercise control over olfactory memories. "You've been working with olfactory memories since you were a child, learning how to remember what things smell like," said Gaiser. "Being aware of how you think about wine as you smell and taste it can only make you a better taster— often in a shorter period of time." Gaiser's approach isn't just for advanced tasters; teaching his techniques to beginners will jump start their ability to deconstruct the aromas and flavors in wine. Maureen Downey, DWS, CWE explored the realities of aged wine. 68 / the tasting panel / october 2012 Determining Age-Worthiness Fine and rare wine expert Maureen Downey, CWE, DWS sees her share of "dead soldiers"—quality wines often made for early consumption and then cellared well past their prime. "One percent of all wine is made to age," she confirms, "and 12 percent of Burgundy is capable of improving in the bottle." Downey's lecture covered measures for gauging quality, the factors that con-

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