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Sip, Slurp, Gargle and Spit! Wine Tasting for Amateurs.

Sip, Slurp, Gargle and Spit! Wine Tasting for Amateurs.

So you’re toying with the idea of going to a wine tasting. The imagined room filled with wine, a chance of canapés and the possibility that you’ll meet the winemaker equivalent of Jon Bon Jovi or Michelle Pfeiffer (OK so I’m going for a certain age group here!) is becoming a recurring thought.

Are you worried that the reality could be this: A room filled with old men, shuffling round making appreciative noises whilst managing to fit their entire noses inside a bulbous glass. A winemaker tutting at your ignorance of MLF (malolactic fermentation) while tightening his cravat or (god forbid) your first attempt at spitting out the sample failing miserably and resulting in red wine stains becoming part of your outfit for the night!

Don’t worry! The wine trade is slowly realising that they need to ‘get with it’. Red trousers are no longer the norm, women are regularly attending wine tastings; not just as a support act for their husbands and asking questions is encouraged!

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for the average wine tasting:

  • DO seek out the styles you like to start with, this eases you into the tasting, giving you confidence by starting with something you know.
  • DON’T try every single wine at larger tastings, by wine number 35 your palate will be exhausted and you’ll be bored (or legless – dependent on whether you’re spitting or not).
  • DO have a game plan before you get there. Perhaps find a Sauvignon Blanc from a new region, try some white wines with new oak, look for a new country that you’ve never tried wines from before.
  • BE adventurous.
  • DO ask questions. Winemakers have travelled there to tell you all about their wines, they don’t mind what you ask. They are passionate (hopefully). This becomes contagious (beware!).
  • DON’T worry about gargling, slurping and spitting. This is quite normal at a wine tasting and you may find you are quite adept at getting the wine into a spittoon from a distance!! (It’s recommended to practice that manoeuvre in the shower first).
  • DO nibble on bread, cheese and charcuterie at the tasting. Wine and food are like Ireland and rain; they just go together!
  • And finally DON’T get carried away and think that the spittoon is a big glass….

If after all of this you feel ready to go ‘wine tasting’ you’re in luck!

We have our annual Portfolio tasting at The Marker Hotel THIS MONDAY.

Between 6 and 8pm you have the opportunity to wander the room, taste up to 120 wines and meet 30 odd wine producers.

There’ll be charcuterie from Eoin’s Irish pigs (The Wooded Pig), cheeses from Sheridans and some bread to soak it all up with. We can’t promise there won’t be someone there with red trousers on, but you can look knowingly over your glass at them like a bird watcher looks at a bird close to extinction.* Thought for the day? Point of this piece? That we’re all different, wine is different, produced in so many places, by so many people, using a myriad of grapes and a ridiculous amount of methods. Go with the flow (quite literally), enjoy your adventure, build the memories through the wines. It really is a great way to live!

15euros a head for all that wine… what are you waiting for?!

*For all red trouser wearers (of whom my father is one), please don’t take offence, you are merely being used as imagery to illustrate a point – that of tradition and restraint. Tongue in cheek, in jest…. we do actually salute you.

Previous article Educated Experimentation in Australian Wine.
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