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January 20, 2005 - Sipping Wine from a Brown Bag

What: The Magical Brown Bag Tasting

Where: Denver Athletic Club

When: January 20, 2005

Ticket Prices: $40.00 members $50.00 non-members/guests

Beneficiary: The American Wine Association Denver Chapter

Mistress of Ceremonies: Jay Fletcher, Master Sommelier

Libations: Southern Wines

Attendance: 70

Attire: Business

Hors D'Oeuvres:: The Denver Athletic Club, Chef Greg

Blacktie Photos by: Patricia Hoffman

 Lilian Quon of the membership department shows off one of the many
Lilian Quon of the membership department shows off one of the many "brown bag" wine bottles

Patricia Hoffman

Brown bags are rarely seen as a centerpiece at a great event, but that was not the case at the Denver Chapter American Wine Society soiree. In fact the event was named "The Magical Brown Bag,” held in an intimate setting at The Denver Athletic club.

The AWS is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to educating its members on all aspects of wine. The organization is made up of novices, experts, grape growers amateur and professional wine makers, chefs, wine appreciators, wine educators and restaurateurs.

The members were greeted at the door by Lou Tornambe of the planning committee and Lilian Quon of bottle membership. They were presented with a glass of wine poured from a brown-bagged bottle that was later revealed as a Leon Beyser, Tokay Pinot Gris '01 from Alsace, France.

On each table sat six other bottles all adorned in brown paper waiting to be explored and revealed. The Chef at the DAC who created the food to pair specifically with the wines provided an assortment of hors d’oeuvres.

The master of ceremonies for this evening's event was Jay Fletcher. He is a Master Sommelier, one of less than 58 Americans and 112 worldwide who hold that title. He is also the Director of Wine Education for Southern Wine and Spirits with an eye on the Western Slopes.

His mission this evening was to test the noses, palates and knowledge of last year's participants. With glasses in hand, Jay lead them through the multifaceted exploration of a wine's visual clues, its "Nose" and its "Taste." They were then asked to determine each wine’s uniqueness. They tested for old world versus new world, the grape's growing climate, its variety or blend, the quality level, and age range.

Jay then encouraged members to guess the wine's vintage, varietal, region and country. There were some clever answers as well as lots of laughter.

The participants had all been provided an evaluation chart to mark their responses to the individual wines. A total score of 0-20 was based on appearance, aroma/bouquet, taste/texture, aftertaste, and overall impression.

A wine "Aroma wheel was also given to the tasters. This was to aid in their wine dissection. There were three levels of discovery in each category. The internal circle of the wheel was designed to identify a wine's basic distinctions. These included spicy, floral, microbiological, oxidized, pungent, chemical, earthy, woody, caramelized, nutty, vegetative and fruity. All this was decided by the aromas listed on the exterior of the wheel. These ranged from individual fruits and vegetables to wet wool or wet dog.

By the end of the evening each member had sipped and rated wines from France, California, Spain, Argentina, Italy, and Australia at a price range of $22.50-$35.00.

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