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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Don't let the buggers (wine waiters) get you down!

Wine tasting at home.
It is sometimes difficult for an amateur to go to a wine tasting event with so many professionals using such flowery language. It can be daunting to be able to label the tastes in your mouth with the proper nouns, adjectives and verbs.
However, if you find this very difficult, as I do sometimes, there is another way.
When you taste wine and you feel you haven't the ability to smell the nose or taste the wine in such an expert way, don't worry about it.
There is another wayl This is to use numbers. Let me explain!

Test your wine using a score of 3-7-10, and total your score out of twenty. When you look at the wine in the glass give it a score out of 3. When you swill the wine around in the glass and take a good sniff, mark the odour out of 7. Then when you taste it, mark the taste out of 10. Then enter the name of the wine, the grape, the year and the country, and your score, in the form of 2-5-9-16 if you have given 2 for sight, 5 for nose and 9 for taste thus giving an overall score of 16.
As you get used to your wines and return to the same wine, score again and compare with your original score, and upgrade, but bear in mind that the difference may be because one of the tests were with slightly corked wine and you haven't spotted this.
Wine in a restaurant.
When the wine waiter pours a sample for you to taste there should be enough in the glass to sip a couple of mouthfuls. Otherwise you cannot swill the wine around the glass to get a decent nose of the wine. A waiter without the experience may give you a quarter of an inch in the glass, don't be afraid to say to them, I need at least three centimetres to be able to test the wine to see if it is corked.
First of all look at the colour of the wine over a white light or a white table cloth. Look for cloud or foreign objects in the wine. Then swill the wine around the glass and sniff - you will soon know if there is something funny there! If all seems fine, take a decent mouthful and swirl the wine around the mouth before you swallow. This will give you the final judgement to see whether it is corked or not. One bottle in ten is corked but that isn't quite as bad as it seems. Don't let the wine waiter intimidate you. I find I often have to deflate their enormous egos. But I do it with a laugh by coughing and spluttering when I get to the tasting part, and wheeze with a hoarse, strangled voice “excellent, pour it out” It normally gets a laugh from the other customers but not always with the wine waiter!
If you take corked wine in levels between level one (minutely corked), to level 10, (very corked), different people's palettes can decide whether it is corked or not. Rather than the person at the head of the family testing, it is best to allow the person with the most experience of wine to make this important test. This way if the wine is corked and he can taste it, it can be exchanged. If someone who doesn't know tests it and accepts it, then your experienced guest will be saddled with a bad wine and his evening will be ruined.
If you want to test the difference between an old wine and a fresh wine at home, then buy a new wine and then also buy the exact wine, but a few years older. Then when you taste at home, open both bottles and taste the fresh wine first, followed by the old wine. This way you will learn how age with the right wines improves the wine magnificently,
A word of warning though, If you are happy with the low priced wines you are drinking, and for any reason, you are not prepared to pay any more for the nectar of the gods, do not go to wine tastings at all. There is no point whatsoever in educating your palette if you are not willing to pay more.
I did, and am forever crippling myself buying wines which I find hard to afford on my pension!
(Photo from Majestic Wines where I buy most of my wines from.)

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