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Kevin Zraly’s “Windows on the World Complete Wine Course” ~ The Phoenix Continues to Rise

By Jodiaz
Kevin Zraly’s “Windows on the World Complete Wine Course” ~ The Phoenix Continues to Rise

On this 11th anniversary of September 11, we all woke up today remembering exactly how we found out that terrorists had invaded our world, on that fateful day in 2001. Some of us are one degree of separation, as I am, for being connected to a person who lost his or her life. The rest of us are probably only two or three degrees of separation. Regardless of degrees, we were all gravely impacted.

Imagine Kevin Zraly’s world literally and figuratively toppling, as the Windows on the World restaurant was affected… Everyone (coworkers) and everything he knew (from the restaurant to his wine school) took a paradigm shift. Kevin Zraly was a founding employee and its wine director. He started as a sommelier in 1976, and became its wine director in 1980. Using the restaurant as a base, Kevin founded his Windows on the World Wine School.

On September 11, 2006, I recommended Kevin’s book, it just seemed appropriate. My first husband’s first cousin was in the second plane that hit the second tower, and I know Robert (Bob) Jalbert’s family well from my days of growing up in Lewiston, Maine. Just knowing one person in one of the planes impacted me deeply. I couldn’t and still can’t begin to imagine Kevin’s world post 9/11. To continue on is unimaginable for me; but he’s somehow done it, and continues to rise as the true phoenix of our wine world.

Kevin Zraly’s “Windows on the World Complete Wine Course” ~ The Phoenix Continues to Rise

With more than 3 Million copies sold, Kevin’s book has been re-released in its new incarnation. New York Times calls it “one of the best start-from-scratch wine books ever written.” I agree. Kevin has captured the heart and soul of wine, and presents it to novice and professionals alike, to enrich each of our wine loving experiences.

I’ve been in the wine business for almost 20 years now. The one thing I’ve learned is how little I still know. There’s always room for growth in this business, always so much to learn. It’s not like learning the multiplication tables; once you’ve memorized it, it serves you well for the rest of your life. Nay… knowing wine is an ever expansive and evolving journey, and Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Complete Wine Course a Shinkansen train, which will get you from here to there faster than any other land vehicle.

Top 10 things I’ve learned from Kevin’s book, this time around

(The following 10 have been taken from his Questions at the end of each chapter.)

  1. Wine textures ~ I’ve always known about textures, but Kevin has compared them to milk textures. This makes it so much more simple to explain to someone else who might not yet “get it.”
    • Light: skim milk
    • Medium: whole milk
    • Full: heavy cream
  2. What is the grape variety for the wine Vouvray?
    • First of all, I’ve always loved saying “Vouvray.”
    • The answer is Chenin Blanc.
    • When I read this one, I thought, “You’re kidding me!”
  3. What percentage of wine consumed in the US is produced in the US?
    • Americans prefer domestic wines by 75 percent of what we choose to enjoy for wines.
    • What a shift over time.
  4. What are the three basic styles of German Wine?
    • While this seems the same for most wines, the German terms are now understood for me.
    • The Three styles
      • Trochen: dry
      • Halbtroken: medium-dry
      • Fruity: semi-dry to very sweet
  5. How did the Napoleonic Code affect the vineyards of Burgundy?
    • “If you’re having trouble understanding the wines of Burgundy, you’re not alone. After the French Revolution in 1789, all the vineyards were sold off in small parcels. The Napoleonic Code also called for a law of equal inheritance for the children- continuing to fragment the vineyards even further.” p.113
  6. What is Tavel?
    • It’s a rosé from a Rhone wine, primarily being made from the Grenache grape.
  7. What percentage of Bordeaux wine is priced between $8 and $25 retail?
    • 80%
    • “Get out!” thought I…
  8. Are American’s drinking more white or red wines?
    • I’ve long known that Chardonnay has been the major wine grape/wine sold for years now.
    • UPDATE from Kevin: In 2010, American’s are now enjoying 55% red wine to 45% white wine.
  9. What is the minimum amount of time that a Brunello di Montalcino must be aged in oak?
    • Beginning with the 1995 vintage, Brunellos are required to be aged in oak for a minimum of two years instead of the previous three. The Result? A fruitier, more accessible wine.
  10. What percentage of Rioja grapes are red?
    • 90%

As you can see from some of these answers, the wine industry is a moving target. What you once knew can be no longer… Like how much red wine is now consumed in the US, and how long a Brunello must be aged. the updates for me are important.

This book is not only a great starter for someone wanting to know as much as possible about wine, but it’s also a great refresher course, I’ve found. It’s a must read book for all of us along our wine journey, because it’s so enriching…


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