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2013 Term 2 Week 4 – FNH 330 is a total joke

Last week ended off nicely. 5 of us went to the Sandbar on Granville Island for Dine Out Vancouver and then we went clubbing afterwards which was high-energy yet somehow boring and bordering on chore-like as the night went on. I’m definitely not a club-goer: glancing at awkward guys who dance like they’re hailing cabs and saving my female friends from over-friendly chaps aren’t really my favourite things, but if I have to go a club, I’d at least like to dance 1) drunk; 2) oblivious to anyone around me but my friends; and 3) to guilt-free Top 40 music (hey: time and place, right?) which I didn’t even get: the music was shitty(/shittier) and I knew little to none of the music.

I probably just didn’t drink enough, though.

The weekend was a blur of work and study; the weekdays were a bit of a blur but the forte of my week was Wednesday, where we had our annual staff Christmas party along with folks from the other sister stores across the city. Of course the night was full of amazing food and wine (including a 1955 Anjou-Saumur – one of the few wines I was actually able to sneak into my glass before all the other wine nerds took it all), and our store in particular boasted 2 quiz question winners and a close-enough blind tasting win.

And I boasted not waking up with a hangover.

1955 Anjou-Saumur!

1955 Anjou-Saumur!

BIOL 210 – Vascular Plants
Super cool, as per usual. We wrapped up the overview of the phloem (generally the food-conducting tissue of the plant) and the dermal tissue system. We’re moving onto roots. We briefly learned about special stomatal apparatuses in the dermal tissue system, with one of their functions being to enable aeration within plant cells. My memory escapes me but I think Botrytis cinerea dries up fruits/plants by attacking the stoma somehow. Or something as equally as riveting.

Skipped lab because I was metabolizing alcohol from the night before. Sorry, lab partner. Not that I’m particularly useful, anyways.

Renly update!

BIOL 234 – Fundamentals of Genetics
Skipped tutorial again. I swear I won’t do it next week! Learning how to analyze pedigree data to determine phenotypes. Not so bad. Sort of awesome. I get excited when I get things. It’s dangerous.

CHEM 205 – Physical Chemistry
I decided not to go on Tuesday because I thought hey – might as well catch up on the readings or else I won’t understand anything in class. The readings are equally as dull and are mostly dry derivations that I can care less about. Didn’t attend Thursday either because I stopped by the store to pick up wines for the wine tasting on Friday. Theme: southern hemisphere and good value.

But really – current themes in class are the first and second laws of thermodynamics.

FNH 330 – Introduction to Wine Science
Did not attend classes (because bitch please) but I attended lab. We started off by doing some sensory training and then eating grape skins and super dark baker’s chocolate to show that you can have astringency without bitterness and vice versa. Cool. Next, we tried two different kinds of wines to build up some sort of pseudo-bank of wines (Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon).

The problem I have with the lab is that the TAs are so annoyingly blithely unaware of whatever the fuck they’re talking about. The prof provides them with the “correct answers” for things like acidity, sweetness, bitterness, and so on. And better yet – if you answer with something that’s not on the sheet, you’re automatically wrong. I’ve heard of two separate instances (the first a co-worker and the other a wine club exec) where they both mentioned that they detected petrol notes in their Riesling. Nope. Wrong. Because it didn’t say so on the sheet.

This is very much unlike (good) WSET instructors, who at least understand where you’re coming from and can explain it well: at least there exists some sort of understandable leeway space and standards written up by several MWs in WSET, and not some single quasi-random professor. Similarly, in the wine “seminars” I’ve held, I’ve explained to students that what you’re probably smelling isn’t “wrong” per se, but can be in some broad category like “red fruits”. Unlike in lab, where it’s like “nope, you’re not smelling cherries”.

Bitch, I am smelling cherries.

So we’re trying this Chilean Cab Sauv, and the TA writes up all the info up on the projector, including ABV, producer, vintage, and what have you. Then we all begin sniffing, and the TA shoots down this one novice student who swears that he detects eucalyptus in his Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by a rude laugh by some straight-up jerk in the front row (“sorry, I don’t smell that at all“), followed by me giving a judging look, followed by further rejected guesses by the class. After the class was over I looked at the bottle. It was Australian (where eucalyptus notes in Cabs find themselves as benchmarks), not Chilean.

coverdrivecab

So I basically said “what the fuck just happened?” on the online discussion board. The professor said he blended the Chilean wine (“too oaky and lacking some fruit”) with the Australian wine (“too fruity and lacking some oak”) to find a “near perfect balance”. Apparently the TAs were supposed to mention that but did not, but why would they, because it probably wasn’t in their scripts which they get paid to read. It was completely ignorant to shoot down a student who was correct, especially in a subject that’s largely subjective in nature. Not that it was the TA’s fault.

I find the whole blending deal understandable but ridiculous – if you’ve been teaching this course for however long you were bragging about it plus purported lengthy external wine experience and knowledge, wouldn’t you know what countries and producers to rely on? Chile is a relatively consistent wine region with little vintage variation compared to other regions. And who the fuck blends the distinctive Oz Cab and not make that clear? The bottle boasts an award sticker on the front – obviously because it reflected typical character.

Apparently he’s mentioning it next class. This is the equivalent of a modern-day biblical public shaming or the most boring instance of The Scarlet Letter. I’ve decided not to bring rocks/corks to throw at him because no one else probably gives a shit.

The blending explains why the TA mentioned that the Pinot we had was a “2006-2008 vintage”; was “20-35 dollars”; was “12-13% ABV”; and was simultaneously from the Similkameen Valley, Vancouver Island, and the Okanagan Valley. I was so confused when I saw that the bottle was a 2006 CedarCreek Pinot Noir. Further confusion when the TA stated that it had “low+” acidity (“Pinot Noir is typically more acidic than other grapes” = low+?) and a “med+” body (are you kidding me?). I also think the wine was slightly corked. I wanted to flip tables, but again: no one probably gave a shit.

cedarcreekpinot

I also heard the TA say something like “no wine will ever be orange-[coloured]” and also mentioned to a student how all sparkling wines get their sparkle from secondary fermentation. I found my TA cute, but now I am temporarily conditioned to hate backward caps and lip rings. Next week is (un)oaked Chardonnay and I’m looking forward to everyone hating it; I will be eating buttered popcorn in the background (symbolism!) and watching shit fly.

I feel bad for hating on the TA because it’s probably just sloppy prof work. TA, you are forgiven. Ish.

Actually, nah. Let’s promote that to full forgiveness. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be nice or some shit. If I get coal for Christmas again I can at least throw it at people or do some artsy hipster drawings. Or cook steaks.

Summary:
TA – I hate you. Just kidding.
Prof – GTFO

I predict that I will have to deal with more shit tomorrow at the wine tasting I’m helping to lead. People have anonymously been trolling the RSVP list with names like “Oz Clarke”, “James May”, “Deandra”, and “Jubal Early”. While I’m simultaneously impressed and annoyed by the choice of fake names, the two big wine happenings this week plus this whole thing clearly show the weird and varying magnetisms between me, awesome wine people who aren’t my age, and students my age who don’t give a shit about wine.

I am a weird backwards anomaly who will become one of those cringe-worthy 35 year-olds that try to relive their youth by clubbing on Friday nights.

Josh

DipWSET, Certified Sommelier, garbage person.

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