Wine has always been a mystery to me. How do people get all these different flavours and smells? How do they remember and are able to tell the difference between a grape variety, detect the location and even the year?
My relationship with wine so far has been quite simplistic. Wine has always been accompanying a meal or a cheese plater so my focus has never really been on the wine itself. I'm also really bad at identifying smells and flavours which is really embarrassing. When other people say they can smell 'pear, smoke or vanilla' I go 'plastic chair, old book or cake'. And I feel really bad because I honestly cannot smell any pear or vanilla as if I have some kind of wine disability.
So one day I tried three different wines with some cheese and bread and that made such a huge difference. I could suddenly feel the difference between the way they smelled and tasted and I could actually compare them (in my own definitely incompetent way but still). And when I added food to the equation that changed the way each wine tasted so there was even more ground to explore.
I'm not a big drinker though and buying three of four wines just for yourself that you probably won't be able to drink in the next five to ten days is an expensive sport. So that's how the idea about the wine tasting group came up. It's quite simple: everyone brings a bottle of wine, we taste each wine, write our notes (what it smells and what it tastes like), then compare with the official description and have a chat abut it.
Last week we had our first meeting and here are the wines that we tasted:
Alvarinho - Vila Nova 2017, Portugal
Sauvignon Blanc - Brancott Estate 2017, New Zealand
Dão Rotulo 2015, Portugal
Kotsifali, Syrah, Mandilari - Okto 2015, Greece
Zinfandel - Grande Alberone 2016, Italy
We also brought some (a lot of) cheese to the table: a garlic and herb Roule, goat's cheese that was baked with figs and walnuts, baked Camembert , a cave aged Yarg, Brie, Comté and Bath Blue. We also had some mushroom pâté, celeriac purée (that goes really well with goat's cheese), garlic and herb butter, freshly baked bread, crackers and a caesar salad (because what we were really missing from our cheese collection was some Parmesan).
I found it incredibly interesting as an experience even though we didn't have an expert to talk us through the wines, regions, smells, flavours etc. I can definitely still remember the impression each wine made to me which probably sounds very amateur but it's still progress!
I also loved the fact that it was very casual and unpretentious; we didn't try to impress each other and we just freely said whatever came to our minds. There is obviously room for improvement if we really want to focus on learning more about wine. For example having a specific theme: wine of a certain type but from different locations, different types of wine from the same location, only whites, only reds, the classics, vertical variations etc.
There's such a huge amount of information online even for beginners (special thanks to Wine Folly!) so hopefully with a bit more organisation we can make it better every time!
If you're interested in joining this group please message me. Looking forward to our second wine tasting meeting in October!