BCAE Instructor Spotlight: Marianne Staniunas

Posted by Marie Scarfo on Mon, Mar 20, 2017


Our Instructor Spotlight Series continues! The latest instructor, featured in our May/June catalog, is Marianne Staniunas, BCAE Tasting instructor and expert on all things cheese, wine, and honey! Catch the full interview right here, and stay tuned for more awesome details about our even more awesome instructors.

BCAE: First off, welcome to the BCAE! Tell us a little about yourself.
MARIANNE: I am an attorney who decided to seek out a different quality of life, almost four years ago, when I left private practice for the cheese and wine world - which had always fascinated me - beginning work with Formaggio Kitchen South End.  I still use my legal training to do pro bono legal work and volunteer work on the side and feel that I have achieved more of the balance in life I was looking for.

BCAE: What do you love most about teaching?
MARIANNE: My favorite thing about teaching, is being able to share information, flavors, experiences about and with things that I love with others.

InstructorSpotlight_MarianneStaniunas-1.jpgBCAE: So, you’re a cheesemonger, wine buyer, honey expert & beekeeper. How did you get into these trades?
MARIANNE: As I mentioned, I started out as an attorney with an interest in wine and cheese and food generally.  I had become an attorney because I wanted to help people, but after working in several different roles over more than eight years, I realized that I wasn't using my degree to help people in the ways that I had hoped.  I became disillusioned with the whole attorney life and lifestyle, and decided to make an abrupt shift on my career path. 

Working at Formaggio opened up so many opportunities for me to learn about all kinds of artisanal foods - from wine, to cheese, to honey - and for me to become more knowledgable in all of these areas.  I am the Honey Buyer for the South End Shop (as well as a buyer of several other products), a cheesemonger, and assistant to the Wine Buyer.  Working at Formaggio also has allowed me to pursue other interests, from using my legal degree to do the kind of pro bono legal work that is meaningful to me, to do additional volunteer work, and to pick up some other hobbies. 

I got into beekeeping as a result of my endeavors to learn more about the production side of honey - both in my role as Honey Buyer, and as part of some of the volunteer work I do for a non-profit in Uganda that was starting an apiary.  I was fortunate to get connected with The Best Bees Company here in the South End; I had a beehive last season, and the folks at Best Bees manage several additional hives for both the South End and Cambridge Formaggio shops.  My bees did not make it through the winter, but I am excited to try again this season.

BCAE: What’s your favorite thing about beekeeping? What do you find to be the most challenging?
MARIANNE: I still consider myself a novice beekeeper - I think it takes years and years of practice to move on from that status! - but my favorite thing about beekeeping is the bees.  Bees are incredible and the functioning of the beehive as a super-organism still boggles my mind.  There is so much to learn about how bees work, the challenges they face, and there are so many difficult decisions to make as a beekeeper, regarding when and how to intervene, and when to just observe.  The biggest challenge for me, is trying to figure out that intervention piece.

BCAE: Unfair question, but we have to know: what’s your favorite cheese?
MARIANNE: My favorite cheese??  Cheese is made by living organisms, and so every wheel is a little different - even when you use the exact same recipe, and provide the same aging conditions.  For me, that means that various cheeses move in and out of my "top five," depending on the flavors, textures, etc. of a given wheel.  That being said, one cheese that I always come back to as a standby is Colston-Bassett Stilton - a rich, earthy, musty, mouth-wateringly delicious cow's milk blue from Nottingham in England.  


Take a class with Marianne!

Inside Honey: The Bee's Cheese

Spring Cheese & Wine

Spanish Cheeses & Sherry

Honey Tasting & The Basics of Beekeeping

Artisan Olive Oil & Vinegars: A Tasting Tour



Topics: BCAE classes, wine, spring, things to do in Boston, wine education, Wine classes Boston, Spring activities in Boston, boston things to do, wine class Boston, wine tasting, Boston classes, beekeeping, urban beekeeping, Spring Classes at the BCAE, Wine & Spirits, BCAE Tasting classes, Boston Tastings, Boston Tasting classes, cheese, honey, BCAE Tastings, things to do in Spring in Boston

A Rosé by Any Other Name...By BCAE Wine Sponsor 90+ Cellars

Posted by Kim Wieczner on Mon, Aug 03, 2015



BCAE wine sponsor 90+ Cellars shares some tips on how to drink smart this summer, and save some $$ doing it...

A Rosé by Any Other Name

Shakespeare was probably not thinking about branding and AOC regulations when he penned one of most frequently referenced quotes in literature, but Juliet’s words have relevance in today’s wine industry. Once a wine finds its way into a glass, does the name on the label change the way it smells? When it hits your palette, does the appellation on the bottle change the way it tastes? For any of us who have sat through a blind tasting, we know all too well that the preconceived notions created by a label just distract us from the true enjoyment of a wine... and usually cost us a pretty penny. But f you are like me and care more about what is in your glass, not what’s written on the bottle, then you will share my excitement about enjoying elegant “Sancerre” and high quality “Chianti” for around $15 a bottle.


Let’s start with the concept of Sancerre. Marlborough, New Zealand may be the trendiest place to find quality Sauvignon Blanc, but Sancerre is where serious oenophiles look for more mineral-driven examples of this expressive grape. Not only is the Sancerre region famous for its soils and climate, but it’s also fun to say. Sadly, its limestone and flinty soils, along with that whimsical name, come with a steep price tag. A short trip north, down (yes, technically down) the Loire River to the villages surrounding the town of Gien lands you in the Coteaux du Giennois. The area shares the same soil composition, microclimate, and many of the same producers, without the added notoriety. Sauvignon Blanc from this region is essentially Sancerre for those who want to drink a glass as opposed to serve a glass -- at a fraction of the price.

Now let’s talk Chianti. Even if you’re too young to remember candlelit dinners with bottles in straw baskets, you probably still knew the name before your first sip of wine. In Tuscany, Sangiovese has as many historical names as it has regulations regarding the wines produced by it. Fortunately, Italians enjoy breaking the rules as much as they delight in making them. Many famous ‘Super Tuscans’, such as Sassicaia, have exemplified what can be achieved when a rebel has a cause. Although most of these ‘declassified’ Tuscan wines have focused on creating fruit forward, modern style blends, some producers have used to the opportunity to create higher quality, traditional ‘Chiantis’ by sourcing the best grapes from different areas in the region. These are wines out there that, under current law, could technically be labeled a “Chianti”. Thankfully, their producers sometimes feel it necessary to look outside the borders of the region to find the best grapes to make an exceptional, modern-style wine that still expresses its food friendly side.


I’m not trying to sell you on the fact that Atlantic City is the same as Las Vegas, but a ten will get you to black jack just as well as any face card. If you’re looking for a Sancerre or Chianti to enjoy with dinner or share with friends, try losing the labels!


Stay tuned for opportunities to taste 90+ Cellars wines at upcoming BCAE events!

Topics: wine, wine advice, 90+ Cellars

It's OK to Drink Rosé By BCAE Wine Sponsor 90+ Cellars

Posted by Kim Wieczner on Fri, May 22, 2015

90  guest post narrow header

It's Rosé season! BCAE Celebrity Chef Class wine sponsor 90+ Cellars shares some reasons why you should hop on board the pink wine train:

It's OK to Drink Rosé

Let’s face it, many Americans have a dysfunctional relationship with pink wine. Generally, the pink wine we find in stores is too sweet or too bubbly. To be frank, pink wine needs a makeover.

The same attitudes about pink wine aren’t shared by our European friends. A great many French and Spanish wineries make rosé for casual consumption, which is sipped enthusiastically and with great regularity.  In France, vin rosé outsells white wine! Summers along the Mediterranean coastline are filled with café tables upon which rest bottles of deliciously crisp rosé enticing patrons to pop the cork. That’s not all, rosé is presented as the ultimate food wine, the perfect thing to wash down everything from oysters to aioli.

Many fortunate Americans traveling abroad get to see, smell and taste for themselves a bottle of Bandol rosé and bouillabaisse, or a Spanish Rosado with fried potatoes. These globe-trotting imbibers of pink liquid have perhaps been partly responsible for the rise of traditional, dry Rosé consumption in the United States.  In recent years, rosé sales above $12 per 750ml bottle (we can assume this is not the sweet pink stuff) have experienced double digit growth. But, let’s face it, only 10% of all wine consumption in America is rosé, and most of that IS the sweet pink stuff. Rosé has a long way to go before gaining mass appeal.

Unfortunately there are a few big issues with rosé in the minds of many Americans. The first one is that the color pink can be a problem for some people, as it can often signify something other than a tasteful drink choice for imbibers of any type. The second barrier is that Americans are used to rosé as sweet wine. Until recently (Moscato anyone?) sweet wine has been a wine pariah. Despite an immense tolerance and propensity to enjoy all things sweet, this hasn’t applied to table wine. I’ve heard some people complain that a wine is too sweet while simultaneously slurping a super-sized Big Gulp of Mountain Dew. This is the case even when the wine is completely dry! For some reason just the thought of pink wine gives people the impression of sweetness, and therefore makes it unfashionable.

But, these negative impressions can be reversed. Rosé just needs a makeover.

90+ Cellars Rose
For one, perceptions of color are not fixed. Culture can change. With the right touch, the color pink can be transformed into something that’s bold, confident, and adventurous. Marketers of dry rosé should promote rosé as a complement to any meal. Americans need to be shown ways that rosé fits into their current lifestyle and melds with the things they already adore, from tailgates to cheesesteaks. Additionally, the consumption of sweet and cheap white zinfandels is in decline. Wine sippers with a sweet tooth have focused their gaze on Moscato. This gives producers of the dry style the opportunity to seize the spotlight and redefine rosé. Maybe all rosé needs is a new celebrity image to generate mass appeal. Someone should probably call Justin Timberlake.

Those of us who are smitten by rosé and want to share it are heartbroken when someone refuses to take a sip. This spring and summer we plan to proudly pour our Rosé every chance we get in an attempt to convert all of you to drinking pink. We hope you join us in spreading the word.


Learn more & taste 90+ Cellars wine in any of our Celebrity Chef classes!

Topics: BCAE, wine, rosé, 90+ Cellars

Billions of Bubbles By BCAE Wine Sponsor 90+ Cellars

Posted by Kim Wieczner on Thu, Mar 26, 2015

90+ Cellars
Celebrity Chef Class wine sponsor 90+ Cellars shares some tips to help you keep your "bubbly"s straight:

Billions of Bubbles: How to Choose

Oh, bubbles. They're perfect for parties. They're sensational at celebrations. They're tasty for toasts. But they're also numerous (maybe not billions, but you get the idea), and selecting the right bottle of bubbly can be difficult -especially with so many varietals and brands out there to choose from! So we're here today to help you decide which variety of bubbles is perfect for you (or for your party guests) so that you can please your crowd but most importantly, your palate.

Champagne: As many know by now, Champagne can only be called as such if it is made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. But another requirement also exists: the carbonation must be created by secondary fermentation. The texture of this sparkling wine is delicate and a glass is extremely refreshing. Sweetness can range from none at all (Brut Zero) to fairly sweet (Doux), but the most common level of sweetness in champagne is the Brut offering. There are even more sub-varieties, but that's for another blog post altogether!

someecard champagne
Prosecco: This sparkly wine hails from Italy and brings to the table both froth and fizz, and the tasting notes tend to be floral, fruit, and/or dessert-like (think lilac, peaches, or almond). Prosecco is more frothy than champagne and therefore easier for sipping. The flavors are simpler, but no less enjoyable, than those of Champagne. It also makes a great addition to a cocktail! As for a recommendation...well, we think our 90+ Cellars Lot 50 Prosecco from Veneto, Italy is pretty tasty! (In fact, BCAE students get 20% off their purchase of 3 bottles or more in our online store – just enter code BCAEWINE at checkout.)

90 plus cellars prosecco
Moscato: There's some pretty tasty Moscato out there...you just have to know where to find it. This sparkling wine is experiencing a resurgence especially as spring (hopefully) rolls in. With a lower alcohol content than other sparklers, the wine can be best described as "spritzy". Its body is very light and the flavors very fruity. Folks who love something sweet, bubbly, and refreshing are going to love Moscato! It's also an excellent wine to pair with your party desserts.

Sparkling Rosé: Sparkling Champagne Rosé is actually most commonly created by adding some Pinot Noir to the sparkling cuvée. Sparkling Rosé in general (not Champagne) is often made by letting red grapes remain in contact with their skins - the traditional way. Again the sweetness of sparkling rose can vary - you can have mostly dry varieties and mostly fruity varieties, but "Brut" is a good indication of flavor on the drier side.

That wraps up your bubbles education today – but if you want more wine education, be sure to check out the BCAE’s wine classes! Best wishes for all your learning – and celebrating - to come!

Which of these bubbles do you think you'd prefer? Let us know in the comments!


Learn more & taste 90+ Cellars wine in any of our Celebrity Chef classes!

Topics: BCAE, wine, sparkling wine, champagne, 90+ Cellars, BCAE sponsor, bubbly, prosecco

The Low Down on The Slow Down by BCAE Wine Sponsor 90+ Cellars

Posted by Kim Wieczner on Mon, Jan 12, 2015

90+ Cellars wine sponsor

Celebrity Chef Class wine sponsor 90+ Cellars is sharing some more of their wine knowledge to help you start your New Year off right!

The Low Down on the Slow Down

As we embrace the start of the New Year, we are all thinking of ways to lead happier, healthier lives.

We love a great glass of wine as much as anybody, and we started 90+ Cellars as a way to share great wine with all of you. For us, wine brings people together, makes food taste better, and simply makes life more enjoyable. Moderate consumption of wine by adults can also have health benefits. Did you know that red wine contains resveratrol, a powerful anti-oxidant that can reduce heart disease? However, as with anything we put in our bodies, alcohol or not, all of us need to be aware of the risks of overdoing it.   

Here a few tips on ways to drink moderately and make wine part of your healthy lifestyle this New Year.

1. Think While you Drink

To be sure, there is a definite difference between drinking and tasting. Drinking seems to come naturally. Pausing to taste seems slower to catch on.  Given the sheer amount of sub-par tasting food and beverages available for purchase, it appears many folks would benefit by stopping to think about what they just put in their mouths. Slowing down to taste not only makes you appreciate better food and drink, but it lengthens the experience without you having to consume more. Try prolonging the enjoyment of every sip, and you’ll be surprised the hidden flavors and textures you’ll discover.

2. Share

Wine comes in a larger bottle for a reason. You’re supposed to share it.  Invite your friend, neighbor, or spouse to share a glass combined with a little conversation.  The act of talking will naturally slow down the amount your drink. Furthermore, conversing leads to better relationships and studies have shown the more relationships we have the happier we are.

3. Enjoy with Food

Think of wine as a part of your meal and treat it like an ingredient, the goal of which is to enhance one’s dining pleasure. Consuming alcohol by itself results in us drinking more, or at least relatively more. When we pair it with food, we can alternate between food and wine consumption slowing the rate of each.  Plus, we have the added benefit of experiencing new flavor combinations and added levels of enjoyment.

90+ cellars wine


4. Save Some for Later

You don’t have to finish a bottle of wine the same day that it is opened.  Most wine, especially red wines with texture (i.e. tannins) will keep for more than one evening.  In fact, some will even improve overnight.  Red Bordeaux, Piedmont reds like Nebbiolo & Barbera, and heavy duty California Cabernets will even improve on the second day. We’ve enjoyed our 90+ Cellars Barolos better after the bottle was open for 3 or 4 days. Don’t feel pressure to drain the bottle—save some for the next day.

Take this all into account when you open your next bottle of wine, and you’re on the road to a healthy and happy 2015.  I’ll drink (a glass) to that!



Keep an eye out for the 90+ Cellars team pouring their wines at celebrity chef classes and the BCAE annual fundraiser Chew on This! Kicked Up Classics on March 12th!

DON'T FORGET! Get 20% off 3 or more bottles of wine in the 90+ Cellars online store! Just enter BCAEWINE at checkout.* Click here to read more about our partnership with 90+ Cellars.

*Restrictions: Only valid for purchases within 90+ Cellars online store. Discount will be applied to product only. Tax and shipping is not discounted. Shipping is $9 flat rate, or free with purchase of 2 or more cases. Discount excludes Wine Club and special gift packs. Cannot be combined with case or Wine Club member discounts - this coupon overrides them. Other restrictions may apply.  Discount expires 9/2/15.

Topics: BCAE, BCAE classes, wine, wine advice, wine education, 90+ Cellars, 2015

5 Ways to Learn More About Wine By BCAE Sponsor 90+ Cellars

Posted by Kim Wieczner on Mon, Nov 17, 2014

90 + Cellars

If you've taken a celebrity chef class with us recently, you probably have met the 90+ Cellars folks, and tasted their delicious wines. Well, we've invited them to share some more of their wine knowledge right here on the blog! Here it is folks...from the experts right to your glass:

5 Ways to Learn More About Wine

“Well, I know I like Malbec and Cabernet, but I’m no connoisseur.” This might be the most common response we hear when we ask people at a wine tasting what they normally like to drink. It’s a perfectly valid answer, but we think people oftentimes don’t give themselves enough credit. And it’s easy to see why: there are thousands of different brands, styles, and regions to choose from in the world of wine. With so much information out there, the average consumer is likely to feel like a novice at best.

Thankfully a little knowledge in the wine world can go a long way. So in the spirit of the BCAE motto “never stop learning”, we’re sharing five simple things you can do to learn more about wine (and no, there will not be a quiz at the end).  

1. Try everything: Yes, we’re serious about this one. In fact, it might be the best thing you can do to learn more about wine (hooray)! The key here is keeping an open mind – sweet wine might not be your thing, but that shouldn’t keep you from at least trying a German Riesling. Sample red wine, white wine, sweet wine, dry wine, rosé, bubbles, port, and everything else there is to offer. Go to tasting events or host them with your friends at home, and make a resolution to at least try everything (it’s ok to spit, too). Chances are you’ll walk away with a few new favorites and an overall better idea of the types of wine you like and dislike.
2. Taste with a purpose: When you do have a chance to taste a variety of different wines, don’t forget to think about what you’re drinking. Take note of the aroma, the color, and how it feels in your mouth. See if you can pick out different fruits or other familiar flavors.  Take notes - if you want. There are no right or wrong answers, but the simple act of being aware of each wine you taste will help you remember your preferences later on.

90+ Wine

3. Ask questions: Have you ever stood in the aisle of a wine shop for far too long debating which of the hundreds of $15 reds you should bring to that dinner party? Yeah, we’ve been there too. But store employees (and servers at restaurants) are there to help. Plus they know more about their wine selection than any customer ever could, so don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation. Let this person know your price range, a general style, or the type of occasion you’re shopping for and he or she will help point you in the right direction.

4. Take a class: If you’re looking for some more in-depth wine knowledge, an introductory class might be right for you. The BCAE offers a variety of classes ranging from the basics (like “Understanding Wine Labels”) to niche interests (like “California Dreaming: California Wines”) to seasonally appropriate (like “Pop, Clink, Fizz: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Tasting” What's a new year without some bubbly?). No matter what your level of knowledge or the type of class you decide to take, the act of sitting in a classroom and talking about wine will help you learn more.

5. Be confident: The fact of the matter is, a lot of people simply don’t know how much they already know about wine. The vast population of people who are “not a connoisseur” feel as though it’s easier to talk themselves down rather than speak up. It’s time to stop being afraid. Ask questions. Start conversations. Try crazy new wine. Don’t be afraid of looking or sounding stupid – remember, most of the wine drinkers of the world are in the same boat as you. Don’t get hung up on what you don’t know (or think you don’t know). After all, what’s the point of drinking wine if you’re not having fun?  

So drink on, fellow wine lovers. And if you have any questions feel free to reach out to us on our Twitter or Facebook pages for some down-to-earth, un-snobby advice. Class dismissed.


DON'T FORGET! Get 20% off 3 or more bottles of wine in the 90+ Cellars online store! Just enter BCAEWINE at checkout.* Click here to read more about our partnership with 90+ Cellars.

*Restrictions: Only valid for purchases within 90+ Cellars online store. Discount will be applied to product only. Tax and shipping is not discounted. Shipping is $9 flat rate, or free with purchase of 2 or more cases. Discount excludes Wine Club and special gift packs. Cannot be combined with case or Wine Club member discounts - this coupon overrides them. Other restrictions may apply.  Discount expires 9/2/15.

Topics: BCAE, BCAE classes, BCAE cooking classes, wine, wine advice, wine education, 90+ Cellars, Boston Center for Adult Education, wine tasting