In this Class Spotlight, we visit with Art Reckler who is teaching a class this session called “What is Wine All About?” This is Art’s first time as a facilitator and the class is located on the Prescott Valley Campus, Building 40 Room 100 on Friday from 1-3PM. Alex Finnarn, an Americorps VISTA Member, recently sat down with Art to discuss his class.
Alex Finnarn: Can you give me an overview of your class and tell me a little of what it’s about?
Art Reckler: Basically, I’m going to introduce wines to people. This course is designed really to have wine tasting, but we’re not going to do wine tasting. It’s more cerebral than it is hands on wine tasting. The DVD we are watching has lectures from a master of wine. There are only 26 in the United States and 200 in the world. She spent 10 years getting her wine master’s degree. Nobody’s even close to knowing what she knows about wine, so I don’t pretend to know anything along those lines.
My background, in terms of wine, took me into owning a retail operation, big wine store, and so I know a little bit about some wines, or basically regions in the country. Then I sold equipment to make and produce the wine, and I was able to sell stemmers and crushers and so forth to the wine industry.
I will center the class on French, Spanish/Portugal, Italian, German, and a little about American wines. Basically, I’m going to tell you about certain things you might want to know like the type of glass you should serve wine in, what kind of equipment is used to produce and service the wine, and details about the regions wines are in.
AF: What was the best wine you’ve ever tasted?
AR: I tasted a wine back in 1975, which was a ’66 Clos Du Bois, a burgundy. It’s the greatest wine I’ve ever tasted, and I have tasted many of the great wines that cost in excess of $100 a bottle and what have you. What makes that wine so great? Well, when you take a slug of the wine, first you sniff it, then you smell it, you swirl it, and all that. When you taste it, you wind up with a 10 minute flavor on your tongue. I can taste it today, even though it was 35 years ago. The taste changed in your mouth from nutmeg to cinnamon to peach. There’s a whole bunch of tastes that you don’t get with an ordinary wine.
AF: In terms of price, what is the sweet spot for a good bottle of wine?
AR: Now, I’m not suggesting to this class that everyone goes out and buys a $100 bottle of wine because that’s the only wine you can drink. If you’re drinking two-buck chuck and think that you’re drinking wine, then you got a new experience ahead. You’re drinking flavored water that’s not good or bad, and you might as well be drinking tap water.
If you want to drink something that’s credible and good, you don’t have to spend $100 a bottle, but you do have to spend something between $10 and $20 in order to pick up a bottle of wine that’s really decent. If you think you’re going to buy a bottle for $5, it’s extraordinary if you can ever find a bottle that’s wonderful for that price range.
AF: What brought you to OLLI?
AR: I’ve been a student all of my life. I was an engineering graduate student at Ohio State. Then, I went to law school, and I’ve been studying continually over the years in all kinds of courses. When I moved out here, I wanted to see what was going on and Yavapai College had the OLLI program, which seemed to make some sense. The courses I’ve been taking are primarily geo-politics, which is an interest of mine, and economics.
Now, how did I get to the point of wanting to teach a wine class? Turk Kangal, a friend of mine, said, “Hey why don’t you teach a wine course?” At first, I said no. I just didn’t want to get involved. He asked me again, I said okay, and that was that.
AF: Are you going to teach any classes in the future?
AR: I don’t know. We’ll see how this goes. Preparation for this class has taken an enormous amount of time for me, which I didn’t mind doing. It was a lot of fun. If I get to the spurt that I want to teach another class again, I’ll do it…I might teach again.
AF: What is your favorite part of being an OLLI member?
AR: If you’re in the right class, I find that in our discussion groups most of the people that are around me are smart. Now, they come from various backgrounds, but everyone seems to be smart. So, the discussions are pretty lively and energetic, and I like that. I may take an entirely different point of view, but I got to be allowed to speak easily. The discussion classes I’ve been in have offered me that freedom, and that is why I like being a part of OLLI.