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Learn about wines with Fox Chapel Area Adult Education

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Deb Mortillar, owner of Dreadnought Wines Palate Partners School of Wine and Spirits, pours the first wine of the night to adult students at the Sept. 24 class.

Adam Knoerzer, course instructor for a new program by Fox Chapel Area Adult Education, goes by the unique title, Dean of Drinking.

The class, centered around wines of Italy, is offered in conjunction with Dreadnought Wines Palate Partners School of Wine & Spirits.

“Adult education is what I feel to be an underserved segment of the population,” Knoerzer said. “On our end, people feel this pressure to already know something about wine in order to enjoy it, and we’re trying to say ‘Don’t worry about that. Just drink and we’ll tell you really cool things about it.”

FCAAE Executive Director Sue Goodwin said this course is the first of its kind in the program’s 55 years. The first session wraps Oct. 1 but anyone interested can sign up for a second session which begins Oct. 15. Classes are 6 to 8 p.m. Mondays for students 21 and older.

Three regions of Italy — Tuscany, Tre Venezie, Sicily/Puglia — will be discussed over the course of three weeks.

“We were so excited to try this new offering because our adult students have so many different interests and we are always looking to offer classes on a variety of topics,” Goodwin said. “Also, how could you not be excited to take a class from someone who has the title Dean of Drinking?”

Cost is $45 for residents and $50 for non-residents of the Fox Chapel Area School District. There is a separate $30 materials fee that is paid to Dreadnought Wines.

The company’s Palate Partners School of Wine & Spirits was created more than 20 years ago to promote wine and create an outlet for people to learn more about it. Owner of Palate Partners and Knoerzers’s co-instructor, Deb Mortillaro, wanted a space for people to feel comfortable learning. Her personal goal is to teach people a systematic way of learning.

“This isn’t brain surgery,” she said. “It’s a beverage, and it can be a truly humbling experience.”

Mortillaro said wine tells the story of a country: its history, regions, climate, geography, people and language.

Each class features four wines, structured in a way that students start with the lightest wine and end with the heaviest. A variety of cheeses and breads are also given to compliment each wine.

“We try to showcase a variety of styles as well as different grapes to give people a good indication of what they can expect from that region if they go there,” Knoerzer said.

During the initial session, many adult students like Fox Chapel resident Heather Myers, said the history of the grapes and how they grew intrigued her most.

“I love Italian food, so being able to pair the two together will be great,” she said. “I’m just enjoying learning the older I get.”

The history behind what’s in the bottle is what excites Knoerzer the most, and is exactly what he wants his students to get out of the classes, as well.

“For me anyway, wine is above all a story of place, and it truly has everything to do with what ends up in that bottle,” Knoerzer said.

For more, visit fcaae.org

Christine Manganas

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