Recently I received an invitation to speak at a service club on the topic of French wines; I was particularly interested in doing this presentation because it came from the New Kingston Rotaract Club. Rotaract is a Rotary-sponsored service club for young men and women ages 18 to 30.
I wanted to understand what level of wine appreciation existed in this age group and also to hear what type of questions they had around the topic of wine.
The evening was billed as "Connexion Française" and in essence it was a simulated "flight" from Jamaica to France complete with flight attendants conducting the required safety demonstrations, in-flight movie and in-flight food and beverage service. Each attendee received a tiny beginner's French dictionary and the officers in the club went about their way conducting the meeting with attempts here and there to say a few words in French.
Just under half of the approximately 50 persons present acknowledged that they drank wine; of those that drank wine, most did not know more than simply asking for red or white when ordering the drink.
With 10 minutes allotted to speak on the topic, I managed to present the absolutely basic details on French wine. We mentioned the French wine laws -- the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée System -- that provides much of the framework for the European wine laws. The wines produced within the European Union (EU) are divided into two quality categories, Table wines and Quality Wines Produced in Specified Regions -- this category is the higher category. This is similar to how Jamaica has to protect our coffee: high mountain and Blue Mountain coffee are two different products, grown in different places, taste different and are sold at different prices.
With French map in hand, I was able to show and very briefly describe the style of all the major wine regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence and the Rhône.
The Rotaractors had a lot of questions and the discussions included all the usual introductory information including wine storage, where to get good wine, wine quality, serving temperature. So many questions that Club President Travis Graham had to put a stop to the Q&A session as it was getting too long.
French wines were on sale to help support their many service and community needs projects. The team conducted a very good meeting and it seems that a really great time was had by all.
Chris Reckord — Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on twitter: @DeVineWines @Reckord.