We spent a perfect Friday
afternoon in the Award-Winning Crystal Springs Wine Cellar
taking a Wine Tasting class with Wine Director and
Sommelier Suzanne Wagner. As the Wine Director and Sommelier Suzanne Wagner
is responsible for the Wine Spectator Grand Award-Winning Wine Cellar
which houses an impressive collection of 45,000 bottles of wine with a value of
approximately $10 million USD.
Sommelier Suzanne Wagner
Wine lovers take notice, every
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 4:00 pm Suzanne Wagner is
the host of a Wine Tasting that takes place in the Wine Cellar located in the
Crystal Springs Clubhouse. We had the pleasure of attending the class on
Friday, March 4, 2022, where Suzanne engaged and educated attendees while
stimulating our palates and our minds.
The class was designed to provide
information in a fun yet educational way discussing wine components (tannin,
acidity, alcohol, sugar, aromas & flavors, oak, and minerality). Suzanne
began the tasting with a glass of Ciodet Sansèr Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra
Dry with 11% alcohol. She told us to swirl the glass to get air into the glass to
release the aromas, then stick our nose deep into the glass to get the full
nuances of the wine. The next step was to take a sip, which Suzanne noted was a
palate cleanser, then to take a second sip, because that is the one that
The level of sweetness varies in
sparkling wines, and Suzanne prepared a chart showing the various categories
that range from the least amount of sugar, Nature/Sauvage with less than 3
grams of sugar per liter, to Brut with less than 15 grams of sugar per liter,
to the sweetest, Doux with more than 50 grams of sugar. The complete list of
sparkling wine categories are Nature/Sauvage, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Sec,
Demi-Sec, and Doux. Interesting to note is that Brut is not bone dry, yet it is
not sweet, and is the most popular type of sparkling wine. With our palates
educated, we moved on to training our olfactory senses to isolate individual
nuances and aromas first by smell and then by taste.
Our palates thoroughly cleansed
with the prosecco, we were ready to taste the first of the wines, a Chardonnay
from Carmel Road, Monterey, 2018, 13% alcohol from California. This was an
unoaked Chardonnay aged in stainless steel tanks, with lots of minerality which
would pair well with seafood dishes.
Suzanne discussed the distinctive
styles of wine, Old World vs New World. For example, if there is more
earthiness to the wine then it is Old World style, whereas New World has less
acid, more fruit, more oak, and more alcohol. By looking for those signals, we
learned how to distinguish the origin the way sommeliers do, in a blind
For the next wine we sampled,
Suzanne had covered the bottle for us to do a blind tasting. The wine was an old-world
wine from Armenia which is the oldest wine producer in the world dating to
6,000 BC. Due to the high elevation, very dry desert like conditions with a
cool climate, and the indigenous Areni grape variety used, it was very much
like a pinot noir. Cool climate and volcanic soil produce lots of acidity,
making the wine very compatible with "fatty" foods like cheese. She had us sample
the wine with a goat milk gouda and a pecorino Romano, which helped to balance
the wine. It was also light enough to enjoy as a sipping wine. When Suzanne
removed the bottle sleeve, we learned that we had tasted Zulal Areni Vayots
Our last blind tasting took our
palates to a new world wine from South America, to Chile, with the sampling of
Vinedos Marchigüe Santa Marta Gran Reserva, Cabernet Sauvignon, DO Valle
de Colchagua, Chile, 2019, 13.5% alcohol, which had bold rich flavors of vanilla,
tobacco, and mint. This dark red wine was classic new world with chocolate
followed by herbaceous notes and was awarded 90 points.
Key takeaways from the class
included how to distinguish old world from new world wines using our olfactory
senses, when pairing wine with food the wine should not overpower the food,
wines 96 - 100 points are considered outstanding wines, and when you see 90 -
94 points for bottles of wine under $20 she highly recommends buying them.
After the tasting we took a tour
of the impressive wine cellar collection of 45,000 bottles and includes a bottle
of 1888 Chateau La Tour de Bordeaux. The cellar houses the collections in
separate rooms, Champagne, Bordeaux, California, White Wine Room, Burgundy
Room, International, Australian, and Italian.
In addition to the Wine Tastings,
they also hold private dinners in the Cellar, and there is a special wine shop
called The Curator Wine & Spirits Shop that is open Wednesday through
Sunday from 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm.
Our Wine Tasting with Wine
Director and Sommelier Suzanne Wagner was fun, educational, and most
importantly, very tasty. Cheers!
Read more about Crystal Springs
Resort in the Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs'
Recipes, and Adventures sections.
See you at a future Wine Tasting!
For more information or to make
a reservation at Crystal Springs Resort, please visit their website: or call
them at: +1-973-862-4351.
Crystal Springs Resort
Wild Turkey Way
Hamburg, New Jersey 07419
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