Mindful reflections on wine tasting and judging

Sitting in my own “wine room” at home this morning I started to reflect on the hectic couple of days travelling to and from Manchester as a wine judge for the People’s Choice Wine Awards, when who should appear but Buddha himself.

“Good grief Sid, you shouldn’t just appear like that, it’s a bit more dramatic than walking into our usual wine bar!”
“Sorry Dr B, I thought it was an opportune moment as you seemed deep in thought about your recent wine judging experience” said the Enlightened One.

“That’s OK Sid, but I’m sure you have a purpose in the visit, as usual?”
“Yes, I do …. I’m wondering about how you balanced your mindful/existentialism principles with having to judge something for “others” related to matching a specific food that you weren’t sampling at the same time …. if you know what I mean?”
“Yes Sid, I know exactly what you mean, and it wasn’t easy, especially as in one category we were given about 15 heavy red wines to taste and match/judge for pairing with barbecued food, at a rate of roughly one every 3mins”
“What! Only 3mins to savour, experience, be mindful of …. a single wine before deciding the extent to which it paired with the classic burgers, sausages, steaks as opposed to the lightly grilled shrimp or seared tuna or maybe a chicken goujon in a few herbs?”
“That’s it Sid, you got it in one”
“You know Dr B, I once kept a single grape in my mouth for 8 hours without chewing or swallowing it”
“I read about that Sid, how on earth did you manage it?”
“I wish you hadn’t asked, I fell asleep but nobody ever writes that bit”
“Well that’s enlightened me on something I didn’t know about 5mins ago, but I must admit I did find the leap from describing to passing judgement somewhat hard. As you know I have quite a wide experience of tasting many different varieties of wines around the world, often in situ, but I never actually buy a wine because I think it will match a specific food. I certainly consider acidity, minerality, balance, quality and value for money before I buy, but only after having concentrated really hard on describing the wine itself and then, and only then, considering whether I like it or not.”

“I think that’s very wise and existentialist of you Dr B, Mr Sartre would be proud of you, as am I. Mindfulness should be a skill developed for wine and food tasting, especially given the scale of marketing and selling of wines in supermarkets etc across the world, the sellers have a huge responsibility to use good quality and informative notes from professional wine critics and writers”

“Yes Sid, but also I strongly believe that the critics and writers have a duty to focus on the end consumer too, not only to taste and report on the wines that score 95/100 and cost a fortune, but to seek out the low cost high value wines ….. and also to avoid the Fruit Salad Bingo descriptions because not everyone can detect 1ppm of a specific Ester that reminds them of strawberries or of phenylacetaldehyde that reminds them of ginger.”

“OK, OK, I know you have a PhD in chemistry, how did you ENJOY the experience?”

“Oh I’m very positive about it. The event was very well organised, the organisers themselves were charming people, and my table group were extremely friendly and all with a passionate love of wine. Everyone worked very hard to be objective, to follow the process and keep to schedule. I’ve made some extra friends on the social networks too, a couple are regularly in touch. A pity that the winning wines in each category won’t be known for a few months yet, that’s all.”

“Have patience Grasshopper, there is still much to reflect on and discuss ……… I’m still waiting for Mr Orwell to join us …


Categories: Reviews, Tips, Wine

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4 replies

  1. Doctor thanks for visiting my site.

    Peace ☮️ be the Botendaddy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Manchester seems an odd sort of place for a wine tasting event!


    • As good a place as any to taste several hundred supermarket wines, I was very impressed with the city centre, really clean streets, fantastic tram system, free metro buses around the city, a good mix of food outlets, offices, apartments, open space, gardens …..


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