At the University Club of the University of Missouri-Columbia, beverage director Rob Sanders likes to add a hint of mystery to the art of tasting wine.
On the first Thursday night of the month, Sanders puts out about five bottles of wine covered in velvet drawstring bags on separate tables in the Reynolds Alumni Center.
After members of the Wine Club arrive, servers begin pouring them a taste from each bottle as they mill around snacking on hors d’oeuvres and talking about wine. Some take notes, and when they have sampled from all of the bottles, they write down their favorites and put the ballots in a box, with the name of the favorite selection to be revealed later.
Sanders adds another dose of intrigue to the mix by asking members to guess the theme of the wine tasting.
“It’s a lot of fun, and tasting wine is the best way to learn about wine,” said Ilene Rauzi, a sales representative for the beverage distributor Golden Barrel.
Jerry Parker, the associate chief of staff of research for the Veterans’ Hospital and an amateur winemaker, said blind taste testing is more educational than tasting wine when you see the label in front of you.
“It gives you a chance to give some thought to what you are tasting,” he said during a recent Wine Club event. “It makes you reflect more about the characteristics of the wine.”
“I particularly enjoy the wine tastings to study the qualities that I want to bring out in my own wines,” Parker added. (He uses the Norton variety of red grapes for his wines, which have won awards in state and international competitions.)
As the end of the event nears, Sanders puts the five bottles on a table at the front of the room, clinks a glass for attention and asks members if any of them can guess the theme.
“It’s been in the news,” he hints.
After a few wrong answers, someone shouts “Australian!” from the back of the room.
“Correct,” Sanders says, and then explains that the topic was chosen in honor of the tragic death of Australian nature show host Steve Irwin, better known as the Crocodile Hunter
“I also slipped in an Argentinean wine with a crocodile on the label,” he points out.
The winner? A Peter Lehman 2003 Barossa Shiraz.
The kicker? The U-Club puts a bottle of the winning wine in each participating member’s rack in the restaurant’s wine storage bin, to be corked during their next meal.
Columbia Festival of the Arts
All day at Boone County Courthouse Square
Visitors to the festival can watch performances of music, dance, theater and literature; purchase arts and crafts from artists and food from vendors; and even create art themselves. 874-6386.
The Les Bourgeois Crush Festival
1 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Les Bourgeois Vineyards in Rocheport
This harvest celebration will feature children’s activities, a grape stomp and a homemade winemaker’s competition. From 6 to 8 p.m., the Doxies provide live music. 698-2133
29th- Oct. 15th
The Sound of Music
Various showings at Columbia Entertainment Company Community Theatre
Originally Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s hit Broadway stage musical, this story set in World War II Austria follows a woman hired as governess for the seven children of a widowed captain. 474-3699.
Jazz, Wine and Beer Pub Crawl
6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 20 venues throughout downtown
This event kicks off the “We Always Swing” Jazz Series season. At each venue, participants enjoy live jazz and receive two wine or beer samples as well as food samplings. Tickets are $35 each. 800-646-8849
“Pink in the Park”
9 a.m. at Willis Park on the Stephens College campus
Sponsored by Columbia Home & Lifestyle magazine, this 5K roll and silent auction benefits the Mid-Missouri Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Registration and the silent auction begin at 9 a.m. The roll starts at 10:30 a.m. Bring a bike, rollerblades, a stroller or a wheelchair. 499-1830, ext. 1015.