An Evening of Wine Tasting

Over the past several weeks, a number of my friends have been asking me when this year’s Rendezvous Rotary Club’s Wine and Fine Food event will take place. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a member of the Rendezvous Rotary Club and love working on the event each year.)

This year, the event will be held on Thursday evening, Oct. 22, at the High Country Inn’s Yukon Convention Centre. It runs from 7 to 9:20 p.m. and the tickets can be purchased at Arts Underground; Coffee, Tea & Spice and from M & M Meats or at the front desk of the High Country Inn.

Tickets continue to be $50 and include a free tasting glass, the opportunity to taste 150-plus wines from 18 importers, sample tasty treats and bid on silent auction items, all in a music-filled and very pleasant evening.

Funds raised support local and international projects such as Yukon Literacy, Ramesh Ferris’ Cycle to Walk effort, improvements to Bert Law Park walking paths and the Outreach Van. As well, funds support international Rotary efforts to eradicate polio, fund clean-water projects, promote literacy and education and support disaster relief.

But all that aside, what I wanted to touch on in this article was how to enjoy a wine tasting and help other people to enjoy it as well.

Some of us are a little nervous about putting ourselves in situations where we don’t feel we know as much as other people, or we are afraid of looking silly. Unfortunately, movies and TV shows always seem to show wines being tasted by self-assured-looking people making comments in flowery language about the taste being “precocious, with notes of leather and a hint of cat’s pee,” or some other such baloney. Don’t let the image psych you out.

People who enjoy wines, even if they are very knowledgeable, are always looking to learn more and enjoy sharing the experience with others. Plus, remember that there is no “right” answer in wine: each person who tastes will have a different experience and preferences. What I love about wines, in terms of taste or bouquet, may not work for you, and vice versa.

Here are some hints to enjoying an evening of wine tasting:

1. Leave the perfume or cologne at home. Some of us tend to add a little scent when we dress up for a social occasion, but this is one time where you and fellow attendees are going specifically to taste and smell wines.

You and they have paid to enjoy the taste and bouquet of the wines, not of you. You’ll taste and smell more in the wines and so will others. Forgo your signature scent for one evening.

2. Go with friends. Half the fun of tasting a wine is asking someone that you like what they think about the wine. It’s fun to compare impressions and listen to what they take.

Quite often, I struggle for the taste I am sensing, and then someone else will say, “It tastes just like green apples to me,” and suddenly I realize that’s just the flavour I was trying to identify.

3. Taste slowly. Swirl the wine around in the glass so that it mixes with the air. Look at the sides of the glass to see how the swirled wine slides down the glass. The streaks are called “legs”, and the more pronounced they are, generally the higher the alcoholic content.

Bury your nose in the bowl of the glass and take a deep sniff … and then do it once more. Now take a good mouthful of wine. Roll it around in your mouth. With some on your tongue, try to draw some air through your lips so that the wine tumbles a little in your mouth. Swallow, and pay attention to the taste in your mouth after you swallow. Ask your friends what they thought. Tell them what you tasted. Enjoy. Repeat!

4. Talk to the pourer. Hopefully they will be somewhat knowledgeable about the wines they are pouring. I know the Rotary events: the pourers will be mostly wine merchants and, in several cases, the vineyard owners.

You’ll learn some great things about wines. And when you serve them to friends, later, you’ll be able to share what you learned (and impress your friends with your wine knowledge).

5. Taste wines you haven’t tried before. If all you drink is what you normally drink at home, the whole objective of going to a wine tasting is lost. Explore. You may go “Yuck!” to one or two, but you’ll find some “Yums!” too.

I hope you’ll attend this years Rendezvous Rotary Club Wine and Fine Food event, or take advantage of other opportunities to try new wines and learn more about the vineyards of the world. Stop by and say hello to me … I’ll be pouring at one of the tables.


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