Acid Tongue - Grape Expectations
Author: Darryn King
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
It was, in short, a classy way to get grotesquely trashed in beautiful surrounds.
The other people on the tour seemed to know what they were talking about. They swirled their glasses before they sipped, and went on and on about aftertastes and acidity and some people they called 'the Tannins', while the two of us were just trying to keep upright and resist the urge to sing sea shanties.
If I was confused about wine beforehand - and I was - well, I'm confused on a much grander scale now. I still don't know the difference between an 'aroma', a 'bouquet' and a 'nose'; I haven't the slightest idea which wines go with which kinds of meat; and the most I can tell you about 'pinot noir' is that, apparently, the T is silent. And I haven't seen Sideways.
The guide explained that all wines have 'a window', a point at which the taste of the wine will be at its absolute best. I just wish he'd told us which window exactly. I've perched myself on the edge of every window in the house and can't taste the difference between the bedroom and the garage.
I was also astounded to learn that you can detect the Australian drought in wines from 2002. I still find it amazing that anyone can detect real world phenomena in a wine, although to be honest I have always thought my 2003 riesling tasted vaguely of SARS.
As for the vocabulary of wine, particularly the unlimited arsenal of elaborate adjectives, I can't even begin to imagine what makes one wine 'smooth' and makes another 'silky', or 'supple'- or any other word better employed to describe women's breasts. And let's just say I was uncomfortable having my back to the tour guide when he started talking about 'browning' and being 'woody'.
But, you have to understand, I love wine. I may not be able to articulate the precise details of every minor incident during its journey across my palate, but I really do love it. Lots of it too, to wash down a hearty meal. Is it vulgar and philistine for one to say he's 'washing down' a meal with wine- Probably.
But you know what- I don't mind being ignorant about wine. I like treating my taste buds to a little bit of mystery every now and then. You can refine your senses all your like, but I prefer to develop my sense of discovery. All you sommeliers and connoisseurs with your fancy words- well- you can put a cork in it.