At a recent “Wines of the Mediterranean” class at France 44, tastings included wines from Spain, Greece, Italy, and France. Unlike many wine experiences that center around sometimes subjective terms of flavor like “briney” or “granite-nosed,” the France 44 class took a more historical approach. The class focused on the history of the regions where the grapes are grown, and the context of the varietal and the specific wineries. The inclusion of Greece, an up-and-coming wine-producing country not yet widely known for its product, was a surprising move — and it was one supported by the wines that were chosen.
The classes are run by sommelier Jessica Nielsen, and feature a small tasting of food from France 44’s catering division (with the option to pay for a more extensive platter in advance). The setting — the basement wine tasting room of France 44 — is intimate, and the casual atmosphere means that it’s easy to ask questions of the sommelier and talk about tastes.
Each wine was poured and discussed in sequence — moving from Spain, to Greece and Italy, back to France, and then all over again from lighter white wines to stronger red wines. Nielsen’s knowledge of each varietal was impressive, but not long-winded, and the history of the varietal and the wine maker gave context to each flavor.
Classes occur at France 44 on an ongoing basis; here are two upcoming options.