This past week has been a crazy week of wine tastings- I loved it! I love to do wine tastings. To help people enjoy and understand it a little better wine, while at the same time just having a good time! French wine, after all, is about the community you drink it with… I have been doing wine tastings for almost 5 years now and every time it is a different group, different dynamic, different wine, but always a great time!
Wine, especially French wine, can come across as perplexing, pretentious and intimidating- especially if you taste with someone who calls himself or herself a ‘sommelier’. Now, while I am technically allowed to use the word sommelier and have passed exams to earn that title- I often don’t. I enjoy making wine something accessible to everyone. I enjoy breaking down the barriers of ‘correct’ and ‘right and wrong’ techniques when tasting. It should be about what each person finds within the glass. The glass, by all measures, is constantly changing. From the time the grapes in the vines are picked, to the fermentation process, to the bottle, to the continued changing in the glass, the wine is constantly changing. Wine for each person will present itself differently, and in that same idea, every person is different. We cannot all claim to smell and taste the same thing.
I, as a sommelier, will guide you- but I choose not give you the answers.
After all these tastings, I am constantly surprised at how people find different smells and tastes. This past week someone described the smell of a wine as ‘like a carrot being pulled from the ground’. I loved that! I will often say that a wine smells like Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, Washington because I worked there for a year and remember smelling the fresh flowers at the beginning of the day and then the stomped on flowers at the end of the day. For me there are some wines that remind me of that smell. To each person, wine will change and bring about different memories. I can’t teach someone what a fresh pulled carrot smells like, nor can I explain Pikes Market at the end of the day.
It is my memory.
French wine is perplexing, but if we start with our own palate and our memories we can begin to discover French wines in a new way. We can begin to discover what specific tastes about wine we like and how they might differ from other people’s palate. I love to start with the palate. With the basic question- do you like the wine? Yes or no. After this we start the tasting by trying to answer the very basic, yet much more complex to answer, questions of – why or why not?
This past week I have had the joy to do three large group wine tastings- a total of about 60 people. All different palates, all different smells, all different dynamics. It was great! I hope to get a small post of each of the wines tastings this weekend… until then Happy Easter!