Back to (wine) school

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - Break­ing news at calgaryher­ald.com SHEL­LEY

I love back-to-school sea­son. Fresh mark­ers. Boxes of pen­cils. New pink erasers and that new eraser smell.

And, of course, the op­por­tu­nity to learn. This year, I’m go­ing back to school — sort of. In a cou­ple of weeks, I’ll start the next level of my som­me­lier cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Fif­teen weeks of hard study­ing and, hope­fully, some good wines along the way.

If you’re also in­ter­ested in pur­su­ing pro­fes­sional wine ed­u­ca­tion, check out the Wine and Spirit Ed­u­ca­tion Trust (WSET) pro­gram. The in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized pro­gram is based in Lon­don, Eng­land, but a range of in­tro­duc­tory and ad­vanced cour­ses is of­fered in Cal­gary through Van­cou­ver’s Fine Vin­tage Ltd. Go to finev­in­tageltd.com for more in­for­ma­tion, or call 1-866-379-4915. And if you end up in my class, say hi.

Un­til then, here are some new wines to try.

Lo­cated in the “toe” of Italy’s boot, Cal­abria isn’t ex­actly the No. 1 place in Italy peo­ple think of when they think about Ital­ian wine. But this juicy red just may change your mind.

About 90 per cent of the wines pro­duced in Cal­abria are red. Like Solen­ero (a word that lit­er­ally trans­lates as “black sun”): a com­bi­na­tion of Magliocco (an in­dige­nous Ital­ian grape) and Mer­lot, it’s dark pur­ple, with soft tan­nins and earthy notes of cherry and cran­berry — a quaf­fa­ble, yet in­ter­est­ing red to share with good friends.

It’s a great deal, and one to stump the wine snobs with at your next din­ner party. Don’t let them see the la­bel, and make them guess what they’re drink­ing.

Price: About $20 at Aspen Wine & Spir­its, se­lect Crow­foot Liquor lo­ca­tions, Wine Inc., and Wil­low Park Wines & Spir­its.

Drink: Now, with pizza, spicy tomato-based pasta dishes, lasagna, Ital­ian sausages, gourmet burg­ers or steak. Cork clo­sure.

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