How not to go to a wine-tasting

Bubble Brothers held its much-anticipated Big Wine Event in the Clarion Hotel in Cork last night. Unsurprisingly, as Cork’s best and friendliest wine people, they did a great job. There were 93 wines available for tasting along with one beer, for some odd reason.

They might have done a great job but, as an attendee, I could definitely have done better.

How not to get the most out of a wine-tasting

1. Drive to it, knowing that you have to drop your husband to the airport at the crack of dawn so you can’t leave the car in town and get a cab home.

2. Go on your own. What sort of oddball goes to wine-tastings on their own? Me, that’s what sort. The thought flitted across my mind more than once in the past week to invite someone to come with me. Of course, I forgot all about it and ended up being the only solitary attendee in a room full of people chatting.

3. Forget to practice elegant spitting beforehand. The last time I attended a wine-tasting was on a work night out at least five years ago. Spitting any of it out never even crossed my mind. But with the car parked around the corner last night and not wanting to look like I was a friendless alcoholic, I didn’t want to swig everything down.
Went to spit the first time and was beaten to the bin by a man in his forties, who spat an elegant arc of wine into the bin from a good 18 inches away. I swallowed hard and emptied the dregs from my glass into the bin instead.

4. Be the sort of person who gets horribly tongue-tied when they feel inadequate, thereby not asking any questions for fear of looking stupid, thereby not really learning very much.

For all that, I did try some lovely wines and made an effort to taste a few that I would not normally buy. My tasting notes follow below. Read ’em and weep, Tom Doorley.

PIERRE CHAINIER, 2004 Sauvignon Sélection PC, Touraine AOC, €11.90
NOTE: Dry, more than worth price
That was all I managed to jot down at the time. I should add that it was a classic Sauvignon, clean and very easy to drink.

AGRO DE BAZAN, 2005 Albariño Contrapunto, DO Rias Baixas, €15.90
NOTE: Sweeter, fruitier, could take stronger-tasting food (than the Sauvignon)
Chap wielding the Albariño said Bubble Brothers had a Spanish staff member who complained of being underworked. He was given the job of getting a sample bottle of every Albariño possible. After tasting them all, they selected this one to stock. Not one for a Friday night in front of the telly but great to match with some feisty food if you’ve people round for dinner.

DOMAINE RIMBERT, 2003 Le Mas au Schiste, St Chinian AOC, €18.50
NOTE: Tannic. Maybe not. (As in maybe I shouldn’t buy any).
This actually gets some pretty good reviews online. I didn’t like it but someone more into their reds could find lots to like about it.

CHATEAU JOUCLARY, 2003 ‘Elevé en Fut’, Cabardes AOC, €13.90
NOTE: Full-bodied. Sharp at back of throat.

CHATEAU DE FLORE, 2001 Cahors AOC, €12.90
NOTE: Smells (illegible). Icecream? Difficult.
I wonder is that the point at which I should have gone home…

ERIK BANTI, 2004 I PIANETTI Morellino di Scansano DOC, €13.50
NOTE: V. enjoyable. Easy drinking. Smooth.

LITTLE YERING, 2005 Shiraz-Viognier, Yarra Valley, €11.90
NOTE: (No note, oops)
I did like this one, actually. I’m a big fan of Viognier but hadn’t tried it blended with a red.

So that was me done. I deposited my wine glass on a bar at the side of the room and slipped out, going just slowly enough to see the big sign on the crate by the door: ‘Glasses. Please return clean.’

Some men in suits were playing giant Jenga in the lobby. Next time, I will definitely bring a friend. All the wine you want to taste for a tenner AND giant Jenga. A girl couldn’t ask for much more.

And fingers crossed there will be a next time. Well done Bubble Brothers.


14 responses to “How not to go to a wine-tasting

  1. Have just noticed on the Bubble Brothers blog that they describe the Rimbert Mas Au Schiste as “an overwhelming experience”, “a cult wine”, one they have no hesitation in recommending and a wine “where the cost is identifiably worth it”.

    I will stick by my comment that I didn’t like it much but you might want to take their word on this one.

  2. Randomgrub – I’m sorry you didn’t take the plunge and introduce yourself. I told the albariño saga to about a dozen people, so can’t narrow it down that way. And I have to confess to being a bit starry-eyed about M. Rimbert generally, so my comments on the blog are my own and reflect a colourful variety of Mas au Schiste-ing sessions over the years and vintages. And our differing tastes is what makes the whole enterprise worth the whistle in the first place. I like agreeing to disagree. And to agree, too: I fully expect we’ll be giving everyone another chance to sample before too long. Next spring, maybe. Thank you for coming along, and for the post!

  3. You’re welcome, Julian & thanks for swinging by here. I guess I will have to invest in a bottle of the Mas au Schiste for a more considered evaluation 🙂

    And now I know what you look like, I will certainly introduce myself next time I’m in the store!


  4. I concur with number 1. I had fully intended to have one taste and drive later, but I decided to leave the car in town.

    No 2 wouldn’t be a problem if No 1 was overcome but I wasn’t there alone. What time were you there? I might have a picture of you.

    No 3 was overcome by the fact that no 1 was no longer an issue. Although there were some elegant spitters indeed, I decided not to practice and drank each glass.

    No 4, well everybody feels inadequate at some stage but I know very little about wine which was fairly evident to some of the pourers. Instead of looking blankly at the indepth explanations of the wine, I was able to ask if I could take a photo. I wish I knew more, another thing for the to-do list.

    On another note, I tried the Iki beer. Very tasty. I must keep an eye out for that. And the Erik Banti wines were excellent.

  5. Well, I guess the more wine tastings we go to, the more we’ll learn!

    Was there after 9…didn’t see anyone with a camera, mind you.

    Great pix of Roaring Forties on your site, btw…must try to see them over the weekend.

  6. Thanks RG. The Roaring Forties are well worth seeing live.

    I had left by 730 or so, so you won’t be featuring on the Bubble Brothers website!

  7. Iki beer is new to the market, and although it takes its name from the Japanese word (iki- to be alive) it is actually brewed by a Dutch company and has green tea as one of its ingredients. I notice that Saba, the new Vietnamese restuarant in Dublin, has it on their menu.

  8. I’m a bit worried that I’m the man in his forties…for the first time thus described in print…

  9. Actually Iki is a clever name for a beer – it could be a pun on the homophone Ikki in Japanese, which means “down the hatch / down in one”.

  10. Oh dear John didn’t mean to upset you or anyone else! “Man in his forties” was just descriptive shorthand really…was too transfixed by the elegant spitting to take too many notes on the spitter 🙂

    And Niamh, you could well be right. It’s more likely than Iki being a pun on the English word ‘icky’, which would just be silly…

  11. I got the bus in so avoided No.1 (by getting the No.2 ha ha ha )but I agree regarding No.2 which is why I have some notes – seeing as I didn’t have anyone to talk to about the wines I decided to scribble it down instead.

    With respect to No.3 I feel that with all the drought in the world spitting out wine is tantamount to a sin. So after the first few tatstes I tried smaller and smaller amounts.

    I didn’t do much questioning either but the few times I did I received useful and beneficial replies.

  12. I too was on my own and did feel a little sad:( but hell; ya can’t let a little thing like No.2 to hold ya go girl!
    As for that iki beer; well as I was sobering up with copious amounts of water and coffee at the bodega (I failed No.1) I noticed that they sold it there!
    As for John If you have grey hair well youmay just be that elegabt spitter:)

  13. I mean elegant spitter

  14. Elegant spitting…never thought I’d hear that!

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