Wine Course at Stage Left
People who have taken Francis Schott's wine course at Stage Left: An American Cafe in New Brunswick offer rave reviews, both for Schott's skills as an instructor and for the unusually high level of wines he pours.
A co-owner of Stage Left and the accompanying Old Vines wine shop, Schott has been teaching the course for 10 years. He is a protege of Kevin Zraly, author of the perennially popular "Windows on the World Complete Wine Course," and uses the book to organize his classes, covering all the major wine producing regions in eight sessions.
"The course presupposes no knowledge or vocabulary," Schott said. "The course begins with a component tasting the first night, where I break down wine into some basic components. Oak, acid, tannin, sugar are all tasted dissolved in water and also added to a neutral control wine so that we may begin to build our common wine vocabulary."
Unlike other introductory wine courses, where introductory-level wines are the rule, Schott likes to reach deep into his cellar and pull out rare gems, which is why some students have taken the class more than once. In past years, he has treated his students to the likes of Krug Champagne, the Burgundies of Hubert Lignier, and labels from such superstar California winemakers as Paul Hobbs, Peter Michael and Helen Turley--wines that often sell in restaurants for three figures.
The next wine course at Stage Left begins Jan. 22 and runs for eight consecutive Monday nights. The cost is $595 per person, and gift certificates are available. For more information, call Old Vines at (732) 296-9463, or visit the Web site (www.oldvines.com).