January 26, 2006

First off, don't call it Plonk

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I went to my first ever major wine tasting event on Tuesday. I'd originally planned to go with the DS, but as he's still fighting off the effects of last week's flu he had no taste buds, no sense of smell, and generally felt like a bag of cat crap.

He generously suggested I take someone else to the event, as he wasn't up to it.

So promptly at 7 I met my friend T just outside the Hyatt Regency and set out to enjoy what was on offer. With at least 20 different wineries involved, I was sure I'd find something that would make my heart sing.

While there, I did a fair bit of people watching, which gave me a mini crash-course in Wine Tasting Etiquette. Here's what I learned...

1. Yes, I know that in most wineries there is a spit bucket. Fine. But if the venue offers buckets and pitchers of water, play follow the leader and do what everyone else does; pour water into your wine glass, swirl to rinse, and carefully pour it into the bucket so you don't splash. DO NOT spit your wine out into the bucket from ANY height. You will splash the folks around you, thus grossing them out beyond belief, tick off whoever will be spot cleaning the tableclothes later, and irrevocably label yourself as the rude guy. Trust me on this.

2. If you don't like a wine, find a nice way to say it if asked. One lady's comment of "It seems a touch young" hit the right balance of honesty and politesse. It also allowed space to discuss the wine further, and to glean some history on the winery in question and their plans for the future.

3. You aren't there to wow people with your wine knowledge. Really. No one cares, unless they happen to be your date and are still at that point in the relationship when they find everything you say fascinating, no matter how inane. The rest of us don't care to be given a chance to hear you soliloquize on the nuances of that lovely little fruity reisling you just tried. We want to try it too. Which brings me to...

4. Don't plant yourself in front of a table and act as though you're the last outpost between civilization and chaos. It messes with the flow of wine and people. At one point in the evening, 3 heavily done up ladies took up a post in front of one table, and proceeded to create a huge backlog by refusing to allow anyone in to try the wines. While the folks serving were not visibly distressed, I did note they all made a point of making eye contact with the persons behind these ladies and inviting them to the table so they could try a wine. T and I wandered off, tried 5 or 6 other wines and came back for another go and these ladies were still standing at the table discussing the wine (see #3).

5. Finally, be nice to the volunteers. In this particular case many of the people working the event were volunteers who'd put in countless hours in order to make the evening run smoothly. Just because you aren't getting paid doesn't mean you aren't working...

Surprisingly, my favourite drink of the night was Hardy's Whisker's Blake Tawny Port. Since I'm a geek that way, I had to find out a little more about port in general, and this port in particular. After trolling the net a bit, I found some general information on the wiki, and the following review from Wine Spectator:

"Succulent and smooth, this tremendous complex tawny is layered with caramel, walnut, coffee, almond and orange-peel flavors, long, elegant, and spicy in the mouth. All this and wow, what a price - this could double as a best buy." -- May 31, 1997.

They gave it 94 out of 100 and a general rating of "highly recommended".

Listed as Whisker's Blake under Fortifieds and Brandy on the Hardy's website, it's the sort of drink I'd probably indulge in after dinner if I had it around. And yes, I did find myself wishing I had a bottle last night!

The other one that I greatly enjoyed (but which won't be available for a while yet, was the Four Emus Sauvignon Blanc Semillon. Has anyone else tried this wine?

8 comments:

Zoë (Tanya's friend) said...

love port, and especially that one. I often get it after a nice dinner. so with all my wine and port knowledge (which might fill half that spit bucket) i say you done good :o) was there a specific focus to the event? a region? a specific owner showing off his vineyards? what were the people like?

deputyswife said...

Hello! Here via Michele's.

Sounds like a nice evening. Even with the gaggle of wine guzzlers at one table.

margalit said...

I love wine, but know absolutely nothing about it. I'd like to learn more though.

Here via michele.

Electric Short said...

was anyone drunk,roudy, or rude? Thats why I dont go to wine tasting events anymore....

srp said...

I know nothing about wine and don't drink it but it sounds like you had an interesting time at the event.

Here from Michele.

Cin said...

Zoë - This was an event for the heart & stroke foundation, and there were many different regions represented, although there was a concentration on Australian.

ES - With a couple of exceptions, the folks attending were nice, relaxed and just enjoying themselves, and I can't recall a single drunk & rowdy!

It did highlight how much I'd like to learn about wine though...

Pearl said...

What an interesting event. I've never been to anything like it CIn.

aka_monty said...

I would fail miserably at a wine-tasting...I like the $4 Arbor Mist. :)

Hello, Michele sent me! First time visitor, so I'll be poking around for a bit, if that's okay.