February 2012: wine tasting
It’s a brave man who is willing to try to control a room full of women drinking wine.
At February’s Spa Sweethearts WI meeting, that man was Peter Maclennan from Yorkshire Vintners. He had drawn up a list of ten wines for us to sample, representing different grapes and countries. A sensible person, knowing they were going to be writing about the experience afterwards, would have brought the list home for reference, but after ten glasses of wine… well, I’ll just start by apologising for any inaccuracies.
We started with a sparkling wine and Peter explained the difference between Champagne, cava and what we were drinking.
Next up were the white wines – two sauvignon blancs from Chile and New Zealand, a chardonnay from South Africa and… another white. I think it was a pinot grigio, but that could be completely wrong – either way, I quite liked it, but not everybody agreed.
After the whites came one rosé before we moved on to three reds which were all completely different. The last sample of the night was a dessert wine, a sweet, syrupy option which our table decided was a bit like cough medicine (although nicer!).
Throughout the evening, Peter told us a bit about each wine and was also happy to answer any questions we could put to him – although he was a bit stumped when someone asked why nobody gets hangovers on holiday. We learned about the different kinds of grapes, how the ‘blush’ of a rosé is achieved and how best to really taste the flavour of a wine. He said all wine was best drunk with food and it was just a question of making a good match between the two (perhaps our nibbles were not quite what he meant).
One of the most interesting aspects of the evening was listening to what everyone thought of each wine. There were some who loved certain wines and hated others, while their friends disagreed completely. Luckily, Peter said there was no right or wrong taste; wine is completely subjective and everyone will enjoy different flavours, even depending on their mood and the weather.
If coming into a room of nearly 60 young women is intimidating, keeping things together for more than two hours of drinking must be terrifying. But Peter kept his sense of humour and made sure we all got something useful out of the evening.