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Posted: April 29, 2009

Strange fruit: Wine in weird places

Drink (and learn about) wine at cooking school

Cathie Beck—The Wine Wench

As previously mentioned in this-here column, I’ve drunk wine in a variety of places and from a plethora of vehicles: a tin cup in Rocky Mountain National Park, a flute-like thingy in Lithuania, a man’s shoe once at a (forget the band) concert in 1972.

More recently I find myself drinking wine — the kind not snuck in but actually purchased — in even less traditional venues: at a baseball park (Coors Field), at a college basketball game and at a cooking school – where I thought I’d gone simply to learn how to elegantly prepare and present a whole fish.

Kitchen Table Cooking School — with a distinctive wine instruction curriculum — is one such place ( One of a number of culinary institutions springing up in Colorado, Kitchen Table takes it instruction way beyond any Julia-Child-inspired techniques for proper chicken de-boning. The culinary school — housed in some pretty glamorous settings — introduces students to world-class wines and dedicates classes designed to help students understand how and when certain wines pair with beautifully prepared victuals.

The place is in Greenwood Village and set in a 1,100 sq. ft. facility with a kitchen nestled up against a Tuscan-like tasting room. There’s an espresso café, glorious kitchen appointments everywhere and world-renowned chefs present and invent unbelievable foodstuffs, from pastry to flambé. Moreover, the school takes its mission up a notch, championing causes like stopping animal abuse.

However, the piece of the culinary pie that is a stand-out is their amalgamation of wine instruction into their overall culinary curriculum.  Jim Ulrey is the new master sommelier and plans upcoming classes that feature wines from nearly every wine region across the globe. He’s forming classes now that pair wines with foods from India, Pakistan and Mexico, to name few exotic options.

Of course, Kitchen Table isn’t only the game in town. Cook Street School of Fine Cooking, the Culinary School of the Rockies (both in Denver) and Food & Fine Wine Cooking School in Aspen are just a few examples.

It’s true that this line-up of so-called off-beat places to imbibe vino are mostly middle-class, often middle-aged venues. And it’s also quite true that most don’t carry with them the intrigue or sexiness of drinking snuck-in wine at a Mothers of Invention concert you weren’t suppose to be at in the first place.

But then again, it’s a nice step-up, sipping a Barolo from a feather-light, graceful piece o’ Riedel stemware. It’s a step up, in my book, from that nasty Birkenstock slipper thing that bearded guy from Carbondale, Ill. filled up — and from which I so willingly slurped.

One winning wine tasting

The Lupus Foundation of Colorado will host the First Annual Vines of Hope — Toast to Finding a Cure and Living Well with Lupus! The event takes place May 4 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Vines Wine Bar in Denver.

Tickets include gourmet tapas and desserts, paired with fine wines selected by certified sommeliers. Silent and live auction items include a hotel getaway in NYC, several gift certificates, art pieces, a signed baseball and more. Funds raised go to the Lupus Foundation of Colorado to continue research and assisting individuals living with Lupus. To learn more about the event or the Lupus Foundation, visit or call 303.597.4050. Tickets are discounted when bought in pairs. 

Word o’ the week

Flambé (flam BAY) is a flashy thing my sister does to Bananas Foster at Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s also, more specifically ( tells me), a cooking procedure in which alcohol is added to a hot pan to create a burst of flame. The flame, as far as I can tell, is worthless except that it makes everyone at the table gasp — and if you’re in an expensive restaurant, makes you feel a little better about the $198.67 tab for two.

Coming May 8

Aussie reds and the egos that go with ‘em

What is it about Aussie reds?! — the people who drink them are fanatics, almost livid in their insistence that there’s nothing like Australian wine, especially Australian red wine (but I wouldn’t cross them when it came to an Aussie Chardonnay, either).

At any rate, on May 8, we’re finally going to put the Aussie arguments to bed, in a manner of speaking, and break-down the bulk and the boast behind this country’s wine making and drinking culture.

Frankly, so they’ll leave me the you-know-what alone about it all. It’s as good a reason as any.

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Cathie Beck, a/k/a The Wine Wench, can be reached at: Please forward any and all wine events, wine-related news items directly to her.

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Readers Respond

Thanks for another enjoyable and informative article. We've been looking for a good cooking school in this area, and the Kitchen Table looks like a great place to start. Sounds like they can also enhance our wine acumen. By Pam Burrell on 2009 05 18

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