We went wine tasting this weekend with some good friends. The company was pleasant, and the atmosphere was relaxed in an elegant kind of way. And the wine! The wine was fabulous.
I clearly didn’t belong.
I was born with a tiny piece of brain missing; namely the part that remembers anything about wine. Names, colors, sweet/dry (whatever that means), or labels. They all drop to the floor as soon as they hit my eardrums. If my wife sends me to the store for a bottle, she writes down the name along with additional helper notes like, “It is a white wine.”
So it was with some trepidation that I went on a wine tour, a fear that was confirmed once we hit the first winery because some people in the group were quite versed in wine trivia.
“Is this a savignon merlot? What year? I can tell by the smell of oak that it was a cloudy summer.”
“Oh, the cabernet garcon is fabulous. I find it less fruity than the merlot a deux.”
Wine is complicated.
There is too much to remember with all the varieties and such, and frankly, they all sound the same to me.
So I said nothing. Like the Bible says, “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” (Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.)
There were some who clearly wanted to impress the rest of the group with their discerning and sophisticated tastes. But as I listened to their chatter, I noticed something. Those who “knew their wines” were helping themselves to more than their fair share of samples.
“I am torn between the effervescence of the chardonnay and the mellow aftertaste of the pinot noir. Can I try them again to compare? Hmmm? Both of them.”
The more they talked wine the more they got to drink wine.
So although it may be best to remain silent to give the appearance of being smart, when you are on a wine tour, wagging your tongue pays off with free drinks, which is pretty smart.
Wine is complicated.
I do a lot of wine tasting. I’m working on a certification in French wine. I even sometimes work pouring wine at the tasting bar in a wine shop.
There are honestly only two words that matter in wine-tasting: yummy and yucky. Everything else is really just about figuring out what you liked so that you can know if you’ll like something else the next time you’re buying without having a chance to taste it first. So, feel free to say, “Oh, I like that.” and nod sagely as they explain things. If you want more, you don’t really need to say anything other than “I’d like to try some more of that.” Try everything. Try them without preconceived notions (like, “I don’t like red wine” or “I only like sweet wines”).
All of us started our lives having never tasted wine, so don’t be intimidated by being a beginner. Also, wineries know that you will buy more after a few drinks than you would have stone-cold sober!
Great advice Habap!
Favorite quote at a fancy French wine tasting when the guide asked us what we smelled on our “second nose.”
“Is this a trick question? I smell GRAPES!”