Rhianna Shaw | Oct 16, 2011
Not being much of a wine connoisseur I had never really had cause to think about how one goes about a serious wine tasting. In my mind one simply took a sip of this followed by a sip of that and compared. What a Neanderthal I was. Now I have seen the error of my ways. I know all about the art of wine tasting. The rules. No, you must not wear such an overpowering perfume. Don’t tell me you’re actually cupping the wine glass instead of holding the stem? Goodness me, did you just take a sip without even smelling it? Heavens, did you just smell it without swirling it around to release the fragrances? Surely you didn’t just swirl it without first gazing into the hidden depths of its beauteous being to establish the opulence of its colour? Yes, there are rules. Gaze, swirl, sniff, sip, gargle, then… what? Spit? Or swallow? (To backtrack for a moment, when I say gargle, I mean the process by which one pretends the wine is mouthwash and sucks it around one’s tongue to “detect the flavours”, or to phrase it more delicately “rolls the wine around one’s mouth”… can you imagine though, if you did actually gargle it? Now there’s something I’d pay money to see at a fancy wine fair.)
Having been educated in the ways of tastural procedure I took to the floor to find out the answer to that age-old debate: spit or swallow? “I never swallow,” one visitor told me. A restaurateur by profession he was apparently quite the seasoned wine taster. “It spoils the palette. And of course, rather limits the number you can try.” He had brought up an excellent point, also made by the server at the dessert wine table, who told me wryly that should you display the slightest hint of crapulence you will be swiftly ejected from the premises. Or, as Executive VIP Airport Shuttle phrased it so quaintly in their article How To Make The Most Of Your Wine Tasting Experience: “swallowing numerous wines may begin to cloud your judgment.”
“I only swallow white, never red,” another visitor told me. Upon probing further it seemed that this was pretty much entirely due to the fact that she did not like red. I was informed by a third party that actually you can swallow them all so long as you do not try more than eight, because at that point your palette “gets confused.” In my opinion that’s the whole crapulence thing again, but what do I know? In fact it seemed there was no general consensus. Like any other art wine tasting is a personal endeavour, each artist has their own technique.
So what did I do? Oh don’t pretend you haven’t already guessed it. I swallowed of course.
About the Author: Rhianna Shaw, Conference Hound’s UK correspondent is a 2011 graduate of Brown University with a B.A. in Literary Arts and a course focus on Business. At Brown, Rhianna was the Public Relations and Event Coordinator for the Brown Class Board, responsible for organizing class and campus-wide events. She spent her final semester developing an online start-up with a small team of her Brown classmates. Rhianna hails from sunny England, where she has returned to work in the event industry in London. She has spent a large portion of her life dedicated to music as a member of several bands and orchestras and she also enjoys acting and playing competitive sports!