When you drink a glass of wine, how much do you know about it? Do you know why the elevations, soils, and grape varietals matter? Do you how we arrived at our modern winemaking practices, and how much experience and effort influenced the liquid you’re enjoying?
If you do, then you know that learning more about what’s in your glass enriches the sipping experience. The stories and histories behind our favorite beverages are captivating, and that’s why the Inland Northwest Food Network launched the Drink This! program.
Once-monthly Drink This! classes focus on specific beverages like tea, coffee, beer, or wine. For $25 for Network members, and $30 for non-members, attendees will get to taste different styles of the featured beverage (often paired with food), and learn more about the history behind those drinks and how they are made today. Local drink makers, servers, and experts will instruct each class and lead the tastings, often in the locations where those beverages are made.
Inland Northwest Food Network founder Teri McKenzie started Drink This! for many of the same reasons she started the Network. She wants to connect local food and beverage producers with consumers who want to enjoy their products, and the Network does this in many ways. They offer cooking classes through The Seasonal Kitchen, presentations through Chew on This!, and other programs in hopes of creating a vibrant, valuable, and delicious local food system.
“That’s our mission—connecting people, place, food, and farm through education and outreach,” says McKenzie.
By learning more about food and drink from our neighbors who make it, McKenzie says we get more enjoyment from what’s on our plates and in our cups. “When I eat certain foods now, because I’ve learned about them I have a different appreciation for them,” she says. “I’m really interested in the cultural aspect of the drinks and the history. What’s the story behind these drinks? How did they get here? Who made them and how did they make them? How is tea grown, for example, or coffee, and where is it grown in the world, and what’s that process look like?”
Drink This! classes help attendees understand how drinks evolved into their current form. People will leave with a better idea of why those drinks taste the way they do, and remember the stories with each sip, connecting farm to glass and past to present.
Class pre-registration is required and seating is limited, so don’t wait too long to sign up. January’s tea class was taught by certified tea specialist and tea grower Josephie Dean Jackson, who shared her extensive expertise at the Gaiwan Tea House in Coeur d’Alene. This month, DOMA Coffee Roasting Company in Post Falls will discuss how coffee makes it from producers to consumers and what challenges the process presents. They will also talk about how roasting methods affect flavor.
Our region is brimming with quality beverages, and these classes will help you enjoy them even more by filling your glass with stories.
“Part of the goal of this program is that when people are enjoying a drink, not only will they enjoy the flavor of it but they will be an informed drinker,” McKenzie explains. “They’ll have a new respect for it in a way that somebody who just buys a drink and doesn’t know anything about it can’t have.”