So when you first start to drink wine, its really just a case of smiling and nodding along with the other tasters… however, the longer you spend wine tasting- the more uncontrollable the urge is to say something… maybe its to do with the amount of alcohol you’ve drank, maybe you just have a natural sommelier inside you just bursting to get out! But whatever it is, when you’ve got a nice wine in your glass it certainly warrants comment!

So your there with some red wine in your glass. You sniff it- and smell something interesting, but you can’t quite put your finger on it…. Well how do you let everyone else know you’ve spotted this without actually saying what it is? Its a tricky one… But the best way I found was to pull a shocked/confused face, look to the person next to you, say in your most convincing tone of voice “there’s something on the nose”, now this next bit is crucial! You pause like your trying to think really hard what it is (tilting your head and staring off into space with a pensive look on your face usually conveys this pretty well!) Then you sniff again, and again look pensive! Now you may actually put your finger on what that extra little smell is- but don’t worry if you don’t because this will have bought you enough time for somebody else to intervene and say what they think it is. Now this is then where you swoop in, nod in agreement, and then change what they said slightly! For example your pulling you pensive face, staring off into space, and somebody finally pipes up and says “its got a bit of blackcurrant”- you then lean in nodding and say “yes, like a nice bit of cassis” then lean back in your seat with a smug look on your face! Now if your with people and nobody knows what it is in the wine (best way to spot this is look around and if everyone is staring off into space then its safe to assume nobody knows) then nobody is going to venture a guess- do not panic! this is your moment to shine, because everyone is too afraid to be wrong, they’re probably a little impressed at you for spotting that extra little bit in the first place, so you just pipe up and say something vague but succinct enough to make it sound like you know what you’re talking about like… “oh this has such classic malbec flavours!” Now this won’t make you look like an expert straight away- but what it will do is give you practice in getting the actions down for when you do spot something in the wine that nobody else can put their finger on! Essentially when you’re wine tasting your training your palate- so the more you do it the more you’ll recognise certain characteristics, like peppery notes in shiraz or vanilla in oaked chardonnay.
So at this stage you’ve been to a few wine tastings- your palate is developing nicely, and you know what you’re smelling in the glass! Well you are about to enjoy a pretty gratifying experience in wine tasting! Now they rarely happen (to me at least…) but when they do it is imperative ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE! that you milk them for everything they’re worth. Now this doesn’t actually differ all that much from faking like you know what you’re talking about- you smell it, look confused, say the line, and stare off into space, but when you go back for your second sniff you pull the glass away from your nose and with a face that looks like you’re saying EUREKA (careful not to actually say eureka) you let them all in on what it is- probably something difficult to spot like tobacco, or leather! At this stage now you’ve come so far- you’ve earned the respect of all those around you, and confirmed to yourself that these wine tastings are actually working, so it would be a real shame to fall at the last hurtle… So as nonchalantly as possible you sit back with the most intellectually smug face you can muster and let everyone else basque in the glory of you expert palate!
Its no surprise that there are certain recurring smells and tastes with different grape varieties, but through training your palate you can spot not only these but the ones that are unusual- it just takes time that’s all. But while your bidding your time, there is absolutely no harm in faking it a little bit! One final point we are slowly but surely getting our act together on organising wine tasting evenings- its just debating on the format of them. We’re not sure if we should focus on one grape variety (like cabernet) and try them from all over the world to see how different they can be, or we might just do it region by region… So if ye have any suggestions or any particular preference don’t be afraid to let us know- either below as a comment, or telling us in store, or even if it suits you can e mail us at woodberrywines@eircom.net

Anyways look forward to hearing from ye, and hope ye enjoy your next wine tasting where you can stare off into space looking like an expert!