Italian wine tasting course at Laughing Lemon
As a wedding gift, my co-workers had bought us a gift card for cooking and wine tasting courses at Laughing Lemon in Zurich (they know me and Warren well!). The first class we signed up for was "La Cucina Toscana", where we learned how to make traditional Italian food from the Tuscany region (homemade pasta, wild boar ragu, tiramisu). Of course it was amazing and making pasta from scratch was super fun. Then we enrolled in the Introducing Swiss Wine course, where we tasted 10 different wines from around Switzerland (the Cornalin from Maitre de Chais was by far my favorite) and then were served an authentic Swiss meal (think schnitzel and rösti).
So obvioulsy when we saw the Introducing Italian Wine course available we had to sign up! And we convinced two of our other friends (Hi Libby, Hi Bryan!) to join us. Italian wine is by far my favorite and who doesn't love Italian food!
Of course we were not disappointed. Laughing Lemon is owned by an American/Swiss couple and the English-language courses are small groups (no more than 10) held in their kitchen loft outside Zurich. The classes are incredibly educational (which I love), starting with learning the geography and climate of the various regions, the history, the grape varieties and then what to look for when tasting each wine.
Over three hours we sampled 10 wines from all across Italy (usually I never seem to veer outside the Tuscany or Piedmont regions) and learned the classifications (IGT, DOC, DOCG). The crowd favorite seemed to be the Melis "Nabji" Rosso Terralba from Sardinia, followed closely by the Baglio del Cristo di Campobello Lu Patri, a Nero d'Avola from Sicily.
After tasting all the wines, we were treated to Italian meats, cheeses and quiche while we waited for the main course - home-made pasta with a fresh vegetable sauce and freshly-grated Parmesan cheese. Naturally we each poured another glass of our favorite wine to enjoy with the food. The whole environment is very social, with the guests mingling and hovering around the kitchen island to watch the food being prepared. It feels like you're in the kitchen of good friends or family. The feeling is also heightened after consuming 10+ glasses of wine.
Overall, I highly recommend the classes - both for wine education and cooking techniques. The only downside is that when the course is on a Thursday night and you don't get home until midnight, Friday morning is a bit rough. Choose a weekend class if possible. :-)