Behind The Butter

Wine 101

I’m THRILLED you all were pumped for the idea of a series of wine posts this week. To write about something that I’m so passionate about is simply a pleasure. To kick it all off, I thought I could give you a short post on my own personal background with vino.


Obviously, I love wine but I haven’t always loved, errr, fine wine to say the least. Like most college students I had my fair share of experimenting with less optimal beverages....

Oh Jenna.
And then during my junior year of college I lived in an apartment right above a swanky wine bar, so every Thursday night my girlfriends and I would go “downstairs” (literally) for a glass (or two) of the cheapest chardonnay they had. Good times.
However, I had NEVER had red wine! The horror! I think I was scared of it because it was something my parents drank every night and seemed to be heavier and more “mature” than my cheapo chards and reislings. After I graduated college in May of 2007 I immediately jumped on a plane to Paris and from there my love of wine simply took off.
It was in France were I discovered wine was cheaper than water and there were so many different kinds! I instantly fell in love with having a Kir before dinner (white wine with a splash of cassis) and red with dinner. My rules of ONLY chardonnay with everything went straight out the window, as for the first time I tried pinot noir, merlot, cabernet and shiraz. As my stay in France extended, it became fun for me to play around with food and wine pairings, creating “masterpieces” in my tiny apartment and then rushing across the street to the tiny MonoPrix to buy a bottle (or two) of different wine for only two euros.
Enter six months later, back in the States and in the middle of my crazy curriculum at Le Cordon Bleu. Even through all the craziness, I still tried to maintain the sense of wine elegancy that I learned in Paris, and tried to savor a glass of wine every night at dinner….no matter what dinner was. Sometimes I would just have an omelet or a veggie burger, but that glass of wine made everything seem more classy and the food just taste so much better! And finding good wine didn’t mean to had to break the bank either….you just have to know what you like and what to look for!
My interest in wine grew even more with my long awaited Wine and Beverage class at school. I mean, tasting wine for a grade…..does it even GET better than that?! For three weeks, five hours a day, I studied everything possible on wines around the world. Every Friday we had tastings (could a Friday get any better?) and weekly tests and quizzes. The class was great but I really think I learned most of what I know through the pre-test “wine jeopardy” that my instructor had us play. My competitive spirit totally took hold of me and not to toot my own horn, but I won every time. Put me in a room full of boys who think they know their stuff and it gets me going every time….hahahahaha 😉
Although I love wine I’m definitely not a wine snob. Its actually one of my biggest pet peeves when I hear people say, “oh, I don’t drink merlot”…or “oh, I only drink wine from that vintage.” Gag me. Wine is good if YOU like it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or from a certain vintage or remote vineyard in Italy. And the only way to discover what you like is to taste more! Even if you think you don’t like wine right now, I promise that if you go to some tastings and try different kinds, you will find one that suits your personality and tastes. As for me, I know I like lighter reds. Pinot noirs, merlots, light cabs…..I like wines that you can have with food or without food and that don’t destroy your tongue with tannins.
This week in honor of my upcoming interview with Murphy-Goode I will be giving you all Jenna’s version of Wine 101. But in all honesty, though I LIKE wine, I really don’t even know anything close to everything about it. I just know what tastes good to me and a general picture of what its all about, so that’s what I shall share with you!
Stay tuned…..

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  • katie s
    July 12, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Can’t wait!!

  • Angela
    July 12, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Oh wow Jenna I had no idea that you had such extensive knowledge about wine! That is so cool, I had a blast reading your story on your travels. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear more!

  • Jen
    July 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Hi Jenna! I’ve never posted before, but I absolutely LOVE your blog. I never miss a post. I also love my red vino, so can’t wait to hear alllll your wine knowledge. I’m rooting for you for the Murphy Goode job!! Extremely jealous 🙂 It sounds like the job of a lifetime.

  • Maria
    July 12, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks for sharing your background, Jenna!!! Wow, you do have lots of great experiences with wine–both from Paris and from culinary school 🙂

  • Rachel
    July 12, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Wow, so I loved your blog before… now a special focus on wine for a week – as you said “can it get any better?!” 😉 Looking forward to learning more & really rooting for ya at Goode!

  • Kim
    July 12, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Another wine lover here! Excellent post! I am really looking forward to reading your Wine 101 posts this week. 🙂


  • Graze With Me
    July 12, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    That’s awsome, I love wine and I’ve even gotten my husband (Mr. Beer-only) to find some kinds to like. He even splits a bottle with me sometimes at a nice restaurant!

    I totally agree that anyone can find their perfect wine – it just takes a lot of practice and a little patience.

  • Brynne
    July 12, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Yess I’m so excited! I love wine, especially now that I’m 21 and have an interest in the non-boxed varieties!

  • Shannon (The Daily Balance)
    July 12, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing!!! Can’t wait for all the posts 😉

  • Niki
    July 12, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    This is going to be so much fun! What a great idea! I love wine, and I will try pretty much any kind, but I don’t know very much about it.

  • Recipes for Creativity
    July 12, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Very exciting, I’d can’t wait to take Jenna and Wine 101!

  • TorontoGirloutWest
    July 12, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I also lived and studied in Paris (at the Sorbonne) and that’s where I came to learn wine doesn’t have to be reserved for special occasions. Mind you where I live now wine is really expensive (due to Provincial taxes) so I don’t have as much as I used to.

    Looking forward to your posts on wine! Oh and I went to my local wine store yesterday to look for some Murphy Goode and they don’t carry it. 🙁

  • Kristen
    July 12, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Great idea! Looking forward to reading…

  • Still Life in South America
    July 12, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    I love your idea of a wine post a day this week. I am so excited about your journey to CA!

    I think a lot of people (myself included) start by drinking light varieties like rieslings and dessert wines. I would only drink ice wines (super sweet) and orange muscat when I turned 21. Luckily I progressed to a little sharper whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. Now I only drink juicy reds and have to rediscover my love for whites.

    When my husband and I traveled New Zealand, we worked in a Sauvignon Blanc vineyard for two days. It was back breaking work on our hands and knees tucking the vines into wires all day long. (The bosses actually yelled at us to hurry up.) Needless to say we enjoy wine so much more knowing all of the labor involved in preparing the vines and harvesting the fruit. 🙂

  • MarathonVal
    July 12, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    A Wine CLASS – that sounds fabulous!!! I took a class on “The Beatles” (my fave band) in undergrad, but I think a wine glass sounds even better 😉

  • Jenny
    July 12, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks for sharing all of this with us Jenna! I totally agree and LOVE your wine philosophy. It certainly does NOT have to be expensive or “special” to be incredible! Can’t wait to learn more 🙂

  • Christie @ Quit Your Diet
    July 12, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Can’t wait to read this series! I don’t know a whole lot about wine but do like to drink it from time to time so I am looking forward to drinking in, ahem, your knowledge 🙂

  • Shelly
    July 12, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    That is such a good point about not saying “Oh I never drink Merlot.”
    In my experience, 90% of the Merlots I’ve tried have not been to my liking- however, I randomly tried Little Black Dress Merlot and loved it. (And it’s seriously like a $7 bottle- bargain!!) Same with Chardonnay, it’s never been my favorite, but I’ve found that I LOVE un-oaked chardonnays and that a lot of the French White Burgundys are delicious. I’ve found that once I identified what I didn’t like about wines I didn’t like (I think merlots often tend to be a little jammy for me, and I don’t care for too much oak flavor in chardonnay) I was able to communicate more clearly with people at wine stores and discover great wines that I never would have tried.
    I love light reds as well. Pinot Noir is my favorite! But I have definitely learned that trying wines outside my comfort zone can be really fun!

  • Lena
    July 12, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I totally, 100% agree with ur wine philosophy, Jenna! As a Frenchie myself, wine is such a big part of my culture and I would love the chance to learn more about it and, of course, taste so many different kinds! You will ROCK your speech!! After all, Vive le Vin, bĂŠbĂŠ!


  • Sara B.
    July 12, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I would love it if you would tells us about some good wine that is inexpensive. I always want to try something new but I don’t want to waste the money if it is crap.

  • Hallie (Healthy Twists)
    July 12, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    I would love to learn more about wine! I def stick to the safe whites because I’m afraid to try something new that I won’t like. That’s why I love going wine-tasting at local wineries…you get to try a bunch of different kinds and really talk to the experts…not a bad way to spend an afternoon, provided you have a good friend who’ll do the driving 🙂

  • Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope
    July 12, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    So fun!!! I can’t wait to hear all the upcoming posts! 🙂

  • Chloe (Naturally Frugal)
    July 12, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I can’t wait for this Jenna, I’ve been tasting wines here and there but haven’t really buckled down and tried to find which ones I like the best. I look forward to learning about wine from you, and then trying out some of your suggestions!!!

  • Shelly
    July 12, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Sarah B.,
    If you don’t particularly like a bottle, you can always cook with it! 🙂 I like to sautee green peppers and turkey sausage in red wine and tomato sauce- it’s great over polenta.
    And cooking a fish fillet in a sautee pan with a little olive oil, lemon juice, white wine and capers is divine! Or cook shellfish in white wine, olive oil, minced garlic, and chopped tomatoes with lots of pepper and fresh basil. Also very tasty and a great way to use up your wine.

  • kristi (sweet cheeks)
    July 12, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Loved reading this post, Jenna!

  • Rebeca
    July 12, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    I used to be like that- reisling only, and while I still love a glass, I love trying new wines! I can’t wait to read more and go out and try them as well 🙂

  • Kiki
    July 12, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    I love this post! Keep ’em coming, Jenna! x

  • AmyJoGo
    July 12, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    I’m super excited to get some info from you about wine! Every time I’ve tried wine, I get a headache (even after only half a glass). I’m not sure if I have an allergy (is that possible?) or if it was the way it’s ‘done’ or something else, but I’m open to trying anything.

  • Ashley
    July 12, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    So excited for Wine 101. I wasn’t a wine fan until I studied in Paris. You are so right that wine is cheaper than water there which makes it so much easier and affordable to try all kinds of wine. Also, l loved the MonoPrix reference!

  • Mrs. Myers @ Eat Move Write
    July 12, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    I’m not a big wino. I want to be, in theory, but I just don’t enjoy drinking. I always admire people who love it and can develop a pallat for “good wine.” This job may be just your ticket! 🙂

  • lila
    July 12, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    hey jenna!wine is the only thing i usually drink(im not a heavy drinker anyway!) so i’ ve tried a lot to reach my favourite..i drink asti martini or moschato d’asti..i have no idea how these types of wines which taste like light champagne are made, but i love them!..have you ever tried any?

  • Whitney
    July 12, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    My biggest pet peeve is hearing about people thinking that a bottle of wine is amazing just because it is expensive. My BF’s Dad works at a winery in PA as a hobby and has taken tests to become a wine expert (some level below sommelier) and can consistently pick out fantastic bottles for under $20. I once had a taste of an Opus 1 bottle that a family friend brought to a graduation because they were in the process of moving and didn’t want to trust the moving company to get it moved with the rest of the cellar. It was good but worth its $200 price tag. Not so much.

  • Jenna (reader)
    July 12, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I used to drink wine every evening as well! Then, I found that the sulfides in wine were part of my migraine problem. 🙁 So, my answer would be organic wine. However, that gets pretty pricey. I still don’t know a whole lot about wine. I always stuck with dessert wines for the sweet taste. I would love to learn more!!

  • Kathy (Moving Beyond Perfection)
    July 12, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    WOW- wine is cheaper than water in France?! haha that’s crazy!! I’d love to read about wine though – I honestly know barely ANYTHING so educate me! 🙂

  • K
    July 12, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    I’ve just begun to appreciate wine so I can’t wait for more info! I really need a crash course!!

  • MMiller
    July 12, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Can’t wait to learn! I’m not a big fan of red as of this time! I do occasionally like a glass or 2 of white! Usually a chardonnay or Pino! (And found a good one out of a box at Target! (OK I can hear the gasps already!) Looking forward to learning and trying more!

  • Tracy
    July 12, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge on wine. I’m pretty new to wine myself and have yet to try one I actually like so it would be good to learn a bit more about it so I can hopefully make more informed choices when buying it. – The shelves at the supermarket/bottle stores can be SO overwhelming with choices!!

  • Brie
    July 12, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Love the idea of a wine series. Since you’ve had fancy culinary school training and all–could you maybe do a post, or mention in a post, some of the “rules” of keeping/serving wine? My fiance and I like a glass now and then, but never know what to chill and how to do it and whether wine goes bad after it’s open! It’d be nice to be able to serve wine properly in our home without having to invest in a fancy wine fridge or chiller or vacuum re-sealer or whatever!

  • Lauren
    July 12, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    I love your story, Jenna! I grew up in a family that is very fond of wine, and many different varieties. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve carried on the torch, so to speak, and continue to love tasting new wines and discovering favorites. One of my absolute ways to spend an evening is at a wine bar with my girlfriends. (My boyfriend, unfortunately, is not so partial to wine himself…oh well!) Like you, I abhor wine snobbery and preconceived notions about certain wines. I happen to *really* like Merlot, which seemz to be the default “bad wine” among so many people. I think that you’re really missing out if you write off a wine before giving it a chance. Like anything else, some wines grow on you over time. (Some don’t, too, but at least you were open minded!)

    Thanks for sharing your story about your evolving relationship with wine. Really interesting…you truly deserve this Goode position!

  • Lauren
    July 12, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Wow, I apologize for all the insane typos above!

  • Kim
    July 12, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    I love your down-to-earth approach! Personally, I can’t stand some of the American pretentiousness towards wine. Maybe you encountered the same thing in Paris, but when I’ve been in Europe and South America, the attitude has been so much more relaxed — wine is simply a basic cultural pleasure, not something to make a huge deal out of, as if we’re dealing with $600-an-ounce caviar 😉 I know what I like, love trying new wines, and don’t get carried away with price/rating. I can’t wait to hear your input on the topic!

  • courtney
    July 12, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    I LOVE the wine posts: hearing your wine history is really fun! I am rooting for you at Murphy-Goode–you would be my pick even if I didn’t totally love your blog ;). By the way, I am sure you get asked all the time, but is that green shirt from Anthropologie? I love love love it!

  • Jenna
    July 12, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    i loved this post!! it was so honest! You don’t have to know everything about wine to enjoy it!

  • Meghan@traveleatlove
    July 12, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    I look forward to reading! Wine is one of my passions as well, and we do tastings/vineyard visits quite a bit 🙂

  • emily
    July 12, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    I didn’t get a chance to post earlier but I am super excited about the wine series, thank you for sharing your background, this was a fun post! I still don’t know much about wine and it makes me a little intimidated 🙂

  • Emily (A Nutritionist Eats)
    July 12, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Love wine – I hope the interviews go well!!!

  • erika
    July 12, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Yay! I’m so excited about Wine 101! I’m just starting to drink wine, but know almost nothing about it. Well, except whether I like a particular glass or not. 🙂 I’ve always been a beer drinker, but now that I’m in my mid-30’s, it doesn’t agree so well with me anymore. So I’d love to know how to pick one I might like, instead of relying on the server every time.

  • woman&warrior
    July 13, 2009 at 1:14 am

    Hi Jenna! Looking forward to the week’s ‘wine class’! I live (and love) California and am excited you are coming this way. Its a great place to be!

    Anyways, I’d like to know more about two areas:
    -how do you know what type of wine pairs well with what spices, foods, seasoning? Can you recommend a wine or two for each season? (I got through a couple of bottles every two months. So, for what’s seasonal in the summer, what type of wine would you suggest?)
    -There are SO many wines out there. I look for value. How do I know I’m getting a good deal and a good value when it comes to wine?

  • Anais
    July 14, 2009 at 10:14 am

    My love of wine grew like yours did. At first it was only whites (I had to force myself to even drink a sip of red), and it’s actually through watching Brothers and Sisters, where they are ALWAYS drinking red wine that somehow I started actually wanting to drink some, and now I LOVE red wine (and sort of don’t like white anymore, go figure). I think my favorite wine is the George Duboeuf, the one with the flowers (I’ve seen it on your blog a few weeks ago too!) 🙂 What can I say, I totally judge a book by its covers 😉 I’m really looking forward to reading what you have to say about wine because while I may LOVE wine now, I’m still really awful at knowing what kind I actually like or any further knowledge on it really…:)

  • Beth @ CrossBorderCravings
    July 14, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Ahhh, I love wine too :O). Best of luck with your upcoming interview – you will rock it I’m sure!