Students sample the finer points of pairing wine and cheese

Algonquin College’s AC Hub put on a fun and relaxing event for students on Feb. 12, lead by sommelier and instructor Greg Nyman, which was dedicated to understanding the complexities of wine and cheese pairings. Faculty and students of the sommelier program were more than happy to exhibit their skills and knowledge to the student […]
Photo: Cody Byrne
Interactive media design students Munshat Elias, Emilia Jardim and Ly Le say cheers in celebration of a fun-filled evening.

Algonquin College’s AC Hub put on a fun and relaxing event for students on Feb. 12, lead by sommelier and instructor Greg Nyman, which was dedicated to understanding the complexities of wine and cheese pairings.

Faculty and students of the sommelier program were more than happy to exhibit their skills and knowledge to the student body.

“When my co-coordinator said do you want to do it, I jumped at the chance,” said Nyman.

Gregory Nyman, sommelier instructor at Algonquin College, showcases a bottle offered in the pairing event.
Gregory Nyman, sommelier instructor at Algonquin College, showcases a bottle offered in the pairing event. Photo credit: Cody Byrne

The event was presented as a beginner’s course in understanding the subtleties of the craft. It also aimed to convey to the 30 plus participants the rich history and depth behind each palate-pleasing offering.

“We’re not going to be able to communicate the entire breadth of the program in a two-and-a-half-hour period,” explained Nyman. “There are all sorts of different ways that you can pair wines and cheeses ultimately, but there is a lot of personal preference, so I always encourage people to experiment.”

Nyman presented categorical profiles for cheeses revolving around intensity, moisture, fat, texture, age and flavour; while the wines involved body, acidity, sweetness, tannin, aroma and finish.

Assisted by sommelier students Deborah Hutchinson and Andrea Palmer, Nyman was able to present the materials in a light and amusing fashion, such as remarking that sommeliers don’t collectively drink enough sparkling wine, while students clinked glasses and nibbled on fruits, nuts and cheeses.

A plate setting on offer at AC Hubs wine and cheese pairing event.
A plate setting on offer at AC Hubs wine and cheese pairing event. Photo credit: Cody Byrne

The presentation was guided by a set of rules that helped students decipher the intricacies of aromas, flavours and structures. With the rules in place, he then told them to throw caution to the wind. “There are no rules!” he said jovially. “Taste and experiment. What works for you?”

The team’s dedication shone through with their cheerful demeanour and ease of engagement.

“When I enrolled, I didn’t even really know what kind of wine I liked,” said Palmer. “Now I feel as though I can inform others and present a really positive image of food service and the fine dining industry through my time with the sommelier program.”

Students in attendance were enamoured with the experience and equally engaged in the material. “Overall it was something that was new, and something I can experience more of to get the depth and knowledge behind wine and cheese pairing,” said Joshua Hall, an aboriginal studies student in the General Arts and Sciences program.

Joshua Hall and Allison MacLeod, aboriginal studies students at Algonquin College, enjoy an evening of wine and cheese pairings together.
Joshua Hall and Allison MacLeod, aboriginal studies students at Algonquin College, enjoy an evening of wine and cheese pairings together. Photo credit: Cody Byrne

The Sommelier program is home for individuals from all walks of life. Nyman himself explained that he began as an executive for a medical diagnostics company, and student Deborah Hutchinson also came from a very different career path.

“I am transitioning from my current career as an intelligence analyst with the RCMP and looking at different things that I enjoy doing,” said Hutchinson. “This is something that I’ve always wanted to spend time on.”

Allison MacLeod, an aboriginal studies student summed up the evening best, saying “I thought it was really informative and really delicious.”

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