BCAE Blog

BCAE Instructor Spotlight: Marianne Staniunas

Posted by Marie Scarfo on Mon, Mar 20, 2017

 InstructorSpotlight_MarianneStaniunas.jpg

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.  

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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

BROWSE ALL OF OUR TASTING CLASSES HERE!

 

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

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.

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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