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When Is It A Wine's Time?

Aug 18, 2007
Who knew wines in screw-top bottles would become acceptable to knowledgeable wine drinkers? These are the same people who had to adjust to plastic corks. No wonder they drink.

My husband is a knowledgeable wine drinker. He knows what years produced good grapes and what wineries are best for which wines. I don't. If I like a like a wine, I'll buy it again. If I can't remember its name, I look for the same picture on the label.

When John took me to my first wine tasting, I was the "con" in connoisseur. All I knew about a formal tasting was that I had to judge each wine by what I call the "Four S System" - stare, swirl, smell and swallow.

In the stare stage you describe the wine's color - but you can't use the word white or red. In the swirl stage a wine has "legs" if it leaves vertical lines on the sides of the glass - as opposed to the spots on our glasses at home.

A wine's smell is referred to as bouquet because tasters use flowery words like cinnamon, honey and a touch of vanilla to describe it. Trying to add something to the discussion, I commented on the fruitiness of a wine. Unfortunately, I was smelling the waiter's aftershave.

Wearing any scent at a tasting causes major dissent. The waiter, who was as red in the face as a Zinfandel - or maybe a burgundy, was banished; and we proceeded with the swallow stage - the only stage I'm good at.

Because wine has "body" if it leaves a full feeling in one's mouth, I commented that a wine would have both legs and body if it had a fly in it. No one laughed, John gave me one of "those" looks and the tasting continued.

Although the tasters used words like earthy and oak to describe the wine's taste, I use more mundane words, like good or bad; but I didn't use them that night.

I like white wines better than red wines. They're ... fruitier - plus they remove red wine stains caused by tasters who swirl too enthusiastically.

During the general conversation after the tasting, I mentioned to a fellow taster that I often put an ice cube in my wine to lighten its taste. Immediately there were groans of dismay from the entire table. Poor John, I caused the "grapes of wrath".
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KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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