On Monday nights at 5 p.m., students in the Wine Professional program at Kendall College gather for their weekly class with Instructor and Sommelier John Laloganes. They come from many walks of life—managing restaurants, office jobs and culinary industry posts. Regardless, these students are attracted to the programs because of a desire to advance themselves in their field or simply because of a love for wine.
Set on a large table in a fifth floor room of Kendall College’s Goose Island campus are close to 10 settings of five empty wine glasses, along with water, coffee and crackers, which are often good for clearing one’s palate after a tasting. As class begins, Laloganes discusses recent wine tastings in the city that some of his students have attended, and their various impressions of the wines they may have tried. The students in this night’s five-hour class have moved from being Wine Apprentices (Level I of the Wine Professional program) to Wine Stewards (Level II), and have now logged over 50 hours of class time, tasting and learning about wines from all over the world.
Tonight, the focus of the class is on reviewing last week’s lesson on the Alsace region and introducing the Bordeaux region, both French wine-growing areas famous for some of the most well-known grapes in the world. Students learn details about these grapes down to the types of soils they favor, varying climates that affect their development and ultimate personality in the glass. Attention to detail is definitely a staple of Laloganes’s classes.
As wines are poured in the waiting glasses, students swish and whiff their contents, only lifting them to their lips after their instructor has asked them first to build an aromatic profile of the wine solely based on smell. Words like “earthy,” “floral,” and “fruity” are used here, and then they take a sip. This is not a normal sip, but a tasting one, involving a sort of chewing motion as the liquid sits in the mouth, letting it reach all the tasting regions of the mouth before it hits the back of the throat. And then the second taste for accuracy. Students are lost in their concentration on the ritual, constructing the judgments they will report to Laloganes when he asks them for the flavor profile of the wine.
As the class wraps up, students are considering the next course in the Wine Professional program’s series, which would certify them as a highly-regarded sommelier. For many, this class is a break from their daily grind, and perhaps most importantly, a chance to learn about and enjoy wine.
The Wine Professional (WP) is a TASTE of Kendall beverage program that educates both industry professionals and wine enthusiasts alike on wine history, grape varieties, New and Old world wine producing countries, and food pairings. This accelerated program provides a pathway to a three-tiered sommelier certification.