A new term begins

It’s been a short while since my last post. I’ve been rather busy on a short holiday, hosting my parents in Oxford, being ill 😦 , sampling new wines (of course) and preparing for the new academic year at Oxford. If you are new to Oxford, new to blind tasting, or new to this blog, then welcome! I hope you find this blog informative and entertaining.

Part of my recent busyness has been in preparation of an introductory course to blind tasting – the Oxford Course in Blind Tasting. This course runs through the Oxford Blind Tasting Society for 8 sessions every Monday evening during the first academic term. Part of the function of this blog is to follow up ideas, themes, tasting tips and the like from that course. It is also intended as a forum of sorts for anyone to post questions, answers, recommended wines and any other wine-related information you might like to contribute.

 

It is important not to have too much wine in the glass when tasting.

 

The first week of the course focused on an introduction to blind tasting technique. I wanted to expose wine-beginners to the huge variety of wines available for tasting in the UK, and how blind tasting plays an important part in assessing a wine for its quality and value for money. I think I succeeded with one of the stand-out wines from that session being the Bricco Rosso Suagnà Langhe Rosso, 2004 vintage (one of my favourite value wines, which I have written about before). People were amazed at the value of the wine when I revealed its cost at only £6.50 per bottle.

We also tasted an excellent Beaujolais (Fleurie Clos de la Roilette, 2008, £10.95), discussed what it was about the Cape Mentelle Cabernet-Merlot 2007 seem particularly ‘Australian’, and compared the vastly different wines yet same grape varietal of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and white Bordeaux. A Rioja, a Riesling and a Verdicchio were thrown in for good measure.

This first session was a ‘taster’ for blind tasting, designed to get people to think more carefully about what they’re drinking. We first covered the basics of approaching the wine – from the tasting sample size, to colour and gradient – see some previous posts here, here and here for more details. Aromas and flavours were discussed – is the wine aromatic? what can you smell/taste? is the aroma/flavour complex? does the flavour last? – along with the structure.

All these points will be covered in more depth – in both the course and this blog – over the coming weeks. One of the things that struck me in presenting this session was how people with little experience in describing and identifying wine can sometimes come up with a perfect description of what it is you’re smelling, or tasting. An example is how it was mentioned the Cape Mentelle Cab-Merlot smelled of olives: a perfect note to my nose! Often in the wine world, it seems, people get locked in to a particular way of describing this wine or that wine, as that is what they expect to find. It is refreshing to get new perspectives, and I think this illustrates nicely how we all have something to teach each other.

If you are in Oxford and would like to come along to either this introductory tasting course, or to one or more of the many other blind tasting events we have throughout the year, please check out our website for more details: www.oxfordblindtasting.com, or send me an email at oxfordblindtasting@gmail.com.

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About James

James Flewellen is a biophysicist at the University of Oxford. He has competed for the University in international blind tasting competitions and won several awards. In addition, James is a wine educator and wine writer, most recently co-authoring "The Concise Guide to Wine and Blind Tasting". He also writes for the international gastronome site "The Rambling Epicure", and can be contacted for wine consultancy and educational courses through the "Oxford Wine Academy".
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