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Wine Sampling Techniques


Eric Young – Staff Writer

Wine tasting is one of the best ways to spend a Saturday; it permits the appearance of sophistication. Over the summer I spent a lovely weekend culturing myself on the intricacies of wine tasting and I have become a veritable expert on the subject (drinking wine, not tasting it). Of the wine tasting opportunities in the region abound, I have most enjoyed the offerings in the Charlottesville area: Barboursville, Kluge, King Family, Prince Michel, Blenheim and Company are all top quality choices and close enough together that hitting them all in a day is possible. And trust me, you will want to.

The first step in wine tasting is appointing your roommate’s girlfriend or whoever as your DD and making the trek to any one (or, in my case, eight, maybe nine, I can’t remember) of the region’s fine wineries. Plan to make a day of it. Do your research because if you are paying more than $5 and did not get a complimentary souvenir glass (some tastings are even free), you got screwed. Next, don your blazer and grab yourself a date (wine tastings afford you the appearance of being cultured without actually having to be – this is a good thing, especially on a date, see?) or, if you are desperate, your girlfriend will suffice. So, onward to the vineyard.

The number one rule of wine tasting is that under no circumstances are you to ever spit the wine out. This is a ridiculous practice. I do not hand my allowance back to my Dad, why would I spit out a mouth-full of free booze?

Once you are actually there, the winery employee will begin to discuss the finer points of the wine you just tasted five times (“because I cannot grasp the full bouquet all at once”). The goal here is to feign interest in the oakiness or nuttiness or cork smell or whatever they are talking about without actually saying anything about the wine. If they think you care, they will get a little more heavy-handed on the next sampling. Yes, true, “nice legs,” “fleshy,” and “supple” are words more appropriate for describing Megan Fox than a 1996 Petite Sirah, but roll with me here, because “so, this is, like, 23%, right?” is uncouth. If you are lucky, your date will be into wine and happily educate you as you go; I heard girls like doing stuff like that.

After you have sampled the 20th wine, insist on visiting another vineyard and leave without purchasing anything at all. Continue this pattern until your date decides she likes one particular flavor (?) of wine and buys it. This ultimately leads to you drinking at least half of said bottle later that night, blindly validating her certainly exquisite choice before you head down to Bob’s for a scotch tasting.