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Societá Dante Alighieri. The art of wine


The art of wine
Serie Fall 2013-Spring 2014
Steve Stein and Bob Galivan

“I have enjoyed great health at a great age because everyday since I can remember I have consumed a bottle of wine except when I have not felt well. Then I have consumed two bottles.”  The Bishop of Sevilla

 “Compromises are for relationships, not wine.”  Sir Robert Scott Caywood

“I drink to make other people more interesting.” Earnest Hemmingway

We all like wine.  That’s why we’re here.  But why some wines more than others?  To understand our preferences, we need to experience different aromas and tastes and then learn about how they have come about.  It’s like going to an art museum.  We know what paintings we like and don’t like.  But if we learn about the uses of elements such as color, composition, texture, etc., we appreciate what we like even more.  This course is designed to enhance our enjoyment of wine by introducing us to its art.  In each class we compare various wines in terms of aromas, tastes and textures, and as we go, progressively figure out which ones we like best and why. In the process, we learn about how wine is made and what accounts for the enormous diversity of wine options (varietal –i.e., Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay–, differences between wine regions and price to mention a few).  In the second part of each class, we learn to pair wines with foods exploring specific matches for each wine we taste.  The idea is to see how wine and food tastes interact, both positively and negatively.  Our goal is that by the end of the class, when we are choosing wines– either for their own sake or for a particular occasion or meal– we will have a good sense of what to buy and why.  

When he’s not teaching wine classes at Dante Alighieri or doing wine research, Steve Stein Ph.D. is Professor of History at the University of Miami.  His book, Wine Revolutions, is the first comprehensive treatment of the history of Argentine wine. Dr. Stein has been a member of the South Florida International Wine Challenge Tasting Board and was the winner of the Miami International Wine Fair’s First Annual South Florida Wine and Food Pairing Competition.

Bob Galivan is a Realtor by day, which allows him to support his true passion: Cheese! Bob blogs under his “nom-de-gruyere” FromageBob for the web publication, where he writes the national cheese column, several wine review columns, and a book review column.  Bob also hosts his own blog at, which has been described as “a cheese blog for the average joe.” Bob is a member of the American Cheese Society, and recently participated in their national cheese conference in Raleigh, North Carolina which, in their closing gala, featured (much to his delight) 1,711 cheeses available to taste. He does not remember how far he got…. 

All sessions begin at 7:00 on Friday nights 

Location:  La Cuisine Gourmet, 50 Aragon,  Coral Gables 

November 8: Opening Our Noses and our Palates

In this class, we’ll learn to distinguish the aromas and tastes of wines, which are key to our appreciation of this extraordinary beverage. We will challenge ourselves to expand both of these senses (and a few others) as we learn the techniques of tasting.

The Wines: Two reds & two whites selected to demonstrate the distinctive characteristics of different wines. We’ll explore the attributes of each to understand how factors like the varietal of grape used to make the wine, the choices of the winemaker, aging methods and alcohol content, affect the wine and our perception of it.

The Pairings: Cheese is also affected by many factors, like milk type, rind type, and aging environment. We’ll select four cheeses to pair with the wines to understand how characteristics of food interact with characteristics of the wine to create great (or not-so-great) pairings.

November 22: The 3rd Annual Dante Thanksgiving Challenge
Thanksgiving dinner is possibly the most difficult challenge any wineaux faces. It’s a holiday that can bring even the experts to tears! When you consider the variety of foods that make their way to the table, you can understand why it’s considered one of the hardest meals to pair for. But no tears in this class! Chefs Steve and Bob will show up laden with typical Thanksgiving dishes and wines to pair. By the end of this class you will not only be stuffed, you’ll be overstuffed with the knowledge to face your own Thanksgiving challenge!

The Wines: American Wines for an American Holiday (and maybe a European ringer)… California Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and a surprise or two.

The Foods: What else? Thanksgiving Dinner.

December 6: Celebrating with the Bubblies

End of the year? Bring on the bubbles! In this class we’ll try a variety of sparkling wines to uncover the mystery of this delightful beverage. The French object loudly to using when the term “Champagne” is used to identify sparkling wines, wherever and however they are made. Are the French justified in their assertion of Champagne’s distinctiveness? Or just masters of marketing?

The Wines: Champagne from France, Sparkling Wine made by a French Producer in California, a Sparkling Wine made in California, a Prosecco from Italy and a Cava from Spain.

The Pairings: There are a lot of myths that surround the ideal foods to pair with sparkling wines (chocolate and Champagne is one….), but now that we are all pairing experts, we know that different wines – even sparkling ones – can call for some creativity. We’ll have some chocolate for sure, and a few other “interesting” items to explore just what does pair with sparkling wines, especially even Champagne.

January 10: Dry Wines to Sweet —Running the Gamut

Just what is a “dry” wine? Sweet seems fairly obvious, but there are varying levels of sweetness to wine that – in combination with other attributes – will make or break the wine. In this class, we’ll try 6 wines that range from dry to sweet, and evaluate how well the winemaker achieved the balance necessary to make a good-tasting wine.

The Wines: Muscadet from the Loire Valley, Chardonnay from California, Torrontés from Argentina, Riesling from Germany, Moscato from California, Moscatel from Spain.

The Pairings: A selection of foods designed to pair with one or more of the wines. In this portion of the class, we’ll see that wine and foods pair in different ways – sometimes they combine, sometimes they complement, while other times they do battle. 

January 24: Wines of Mystery

Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel. Everyone knows those varietals. But how about Sylvaner? Zwigelt? Blaufrankish? Or the delightful Greco di Tufo? There are literally hundreds of grape varieties around the world used to make wine, but many of us are reluctant to venture into the unknown. This evening we expect our explorations to turn up some unexpected treasures.

The Wines: It’s a mystery! (didn’t you read…?)

The pairings: It’s a mystery, of course, until we try them.

Contact information: Steve Stein ( Bob Galivan (





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