Wednesday, 20 March 2013

A matter of taste

One night last week I had 7 glasses of wine and still drove home safely.  Perhaps I should add that each glass was less than 1cm full -  I was at a ‘beginners guide to wine tasting’ evening.

Friends that know me will be laughing already as I am no ‘beginner’ at wine tasting!  I started drinking it in the late 70s when pubs & bars in the UK finally caught up with the fact that it could be offered by the glass rather than just a bottle with a meal.  My grandparents even bought a bottle of Blue Nun for me to drink rather than the usual glass of sherry but being kept at room temperature in their drinks cabinet did nothing to improve the flavour.  (After they died we also found several bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau which they were storing in their cellar)! 

The French look on the British as stereotypical wine drinkers in that we drink too much of it, go for quantity rather than quality, and drink it at strange times – some French friends were quite surprised when we offered them wine at Apero time and insisted that they only drank wine with meals (some rules are just crying out to be broken ‘though!).  I’m afraid that I conform to this stereotype and purchase my wine from the Co-operative outlet in the village where 5 litres costs under 10 euros – you can even have your plastic bottles filled with wine via what looks like petrol pump.  However, my eyes were opened recently when we went out for dinner with our neighbours and J-C spent more time perusing the wine list than the main menu.  After much discussion a bottle was ordered and  I’m ashamed to say that my first thought was ‘that’s not going to go very far between four of us’ but for some reason, the fact that it was so delicious & complemented the meal perfectly made me sip and taste it rather than swig it down in large gulps. 

Having finally realised that perhaps there is more to wine than price but not really knowing how to find out more, I was really pleased to see an invitation on Facebook from a couple who run a Domaine in the neighbouring village offering a one-off ‘class’ called ‘How to Taste Better’.  This really was a ‘back to basics’ class where we learnt about the five main ‘tastes’ and were invited to smell and taste glasses containing water with added sugar, water with pure alcohol added and also glasses containing acid – I hasten to add that this was heavily diluted as I’m sure it would be very bad for business to poison potential customers.  Now that we knew what we were looking for, when it came to the wine itself it became easier to recognise the different tastes and as we swirled, sniffed and tasted we began to sound like real wine snobs as we discussed tannin levels, acidity and oak flavours.  We all agreed that the last glass we tasted was our favourite – which was lucky as it just happened to be produced by the Domaine itself! 

Many many thanks to Jon (for the talk) and Rachel (for the nibbles) and I look forward to the next lesson.      

1 comment:

  1. Glad you found the tasting exercise interesting and that it will help you appreciate better wines and WHY you like what you like.

    By the way, wine snobs don't discuss tannins and acidity, wine snobs just discuss the labels and like to drop names of famous estates.

    It's wine lovers that discuss what they taste :)