CHAPTER FIVE: WINE TASTING
You’re never going to learn a damned thing about wine unless you learn how to taste it properly. With your mouth. Advanced students learn to use their tongues, like with kissing, but you’re not there yet. It can be hard to put wine in your mouth and avoid your tongue, so, fine, use your tongue, but don’t expect to learn anything from it. Try to keep it out of the way, as if you were at the dentist’s office and he’s drilling. This is how professional tasters do it. Oh, I’m kidding. I’m just being tongue-in-cheek.
The purpose of this chapter is to keep you from looking like a moron when you’re out in public tasting wine. At home, you can do what you want, for all I care. Pour the crap up your nose, or drink it out of a dog bowl, what does it matter with the cheap shit you drink? But if you’re at the tasting room of a fancy winery, or at an expensive public tasting, try not to look like a dressed-up dildo from the Miley Cyrus Collection. First of all, after the wine has been poured, pick up the wine glass by the stem! That’s what the goddam stem is for—it’s the handle! Don’t pick it up by the bowl like you’re a cast member of “The Real Housewives of Appalachia.” Picking up a wine glass by the bowl is like picking up a steak knife by the blade. The minute you pick up the glass by the bowl, everyone in the room knows you’re the kind of person who thinks Negroamaro is that guy in “Twelve Years a Slave.” What’s worse, though, is holding the wine glass by the base, between your thumb and forefinger. What are you, a circus act? Only pretentious wine pretenders hold their wine glass by the base, and you’re a novice. You only aspire to pretentious.
A QUICK ASIDE ON STEMLESS WINE GLASSES
Stemless wine glasses are stupid. Don’t pick them up. They’re like crotchless panties. It’s a trap to make you put your fingers somewhere you shouldn’t.
Stemless wine glasses are like forks without tines. They’re the chopsticks of glasses.
Once you’ve picked up your glass of wine properly, it’s time to swirl it. There’s no justifiable reason to swirl it, it’s just another idiotic convention that wine demands. Oh, “experts” will tell you, it helps the wine to open up. Yeah, right. If I want the wine to open up, I’ll take it to fucking group therapy. It doesn’t do that. Oh, those pompous “experts” will also say, it helps to volatilize the esters! What the hell does that mean? If I want to volatilize esters I’ll go fart in the Jewish Home for Old Ladies. But, still, to look cool, you have to swirl the wine in your glass. Try to swirl it as fast as possible. And, remember, if it’s wine from Australia or New Zealand, swirl it in the opposite direction or you’ll totally ruin the wine. Many people think the wines from Australia suck when, really, they’re just swirling them in the wrong direction. There, Australia, problem solved.
A QUICK ASIDE ON LEGS
People often ask what the legs in a wine measure. This is simple. They measure the stupidity of the person asking.
Now that you’re finished swirling, and you’ve put Wine Away® on all the stains on your shirt and the shirts of those within your swirling radius, it’s time to take your first sniff. Try to clear your mind, which shouldn’t take long since it’s largely an abandoned warehouse, and let your sensory memory tell you what aromas you’re picking up in the wine. Can you smell flowers, or peaches, or blackberries? Do you smell oak? Does it smell creamy or buttery? Most people will tell you there are no right or wrong answers. Yeah, there are. There totally are. Chances are you’re going to miss most of them, but the people serving the wine know the answers. And you should, too. The answers are right in front of you, in the damned glass. If you don’t know what the wine smells like after sticking your nose in it and smelling it five times, you’re like the goober on “Wheel of Fortune” who gets the answer to the puzzle wrong after Vanna’s turned all the letters around. Sheesh. No right or wrong answers. Since when is life like that? Jerks.
Why does it matter what it smells like, anyway? We don’t buy wine to smell it. Well, for one thing, if it doesn’t smell good, it won’t taste good—think hobos. Also, it’s a proven fact that taste is 70% smell. This sort of seems like God fucked up. So we don’t really have five senses, we have 4 1/3. Taste blind and you’re down to 3 1/3. Think of that the next time you believe wine reviews. That esteemed wine critic judged that $150 wine using only 3 1/3 of his senses. Well, actually, there’s no sound involved, so you’re purchasing wine based on the opinions of somebody using only 2 1/3 of his available senses. That’s less than half! Boy, don’t you feel stupid now. Hey, you have this Guide, just cancel those worthless subscriptions to wine publications. Let’s face it, 2 1/3 of their available senses? They’re not even fucking trying.
As Putin said to his top advisor, Now it’s time to put it in your mouth. Take a sip of the wine and leave it in your mouth for several seconds. The most important quality of fine wine is the texture. There are many acceptable textures for wine depending on the wine’s provenance. It might be rich and sumptuous. It might be lean and delicate. It might be like the inside of your lover’s thigh, or, perhaps, the corns on your grandmother’s feet (which, by the way, is where the name “Cornas” comes from). Any texture might be acceptable, except corduroy. There are wines with the texture of corduroy, but when you swirl them, you know not to put them in your mouth—they make that creepy “swishy” sound.
Once you’ve taken note of the flavors and texture, it’s time to spit. Or swallow. I’m sure you’ve made this choice before. Once the wine has evacuated your mouth, make sure to notice how long the flavor of the wine lingers on your palate. This is called the finish.
I hear a Ho in there somewhere.
Ronny, where to begin? This was one of you greatest hits.
"Stemless wine glasses are stupid. Don’t pick them up. They’re like crotchless panties. It’s a trap to make you put your fingers somewhere you shouldn’t."
And my fave, "If I want to volatilize esters I’ll go fart in the Jewish Home for Old Ladies. But, still, to look cool, you have to swirl the wine in your glass." How did you know that my aunt Est(h)er was there?"
I love you!
How did that L become an H? Lo.
Fun stuff Ron.. but I think ya got the order wrong.. I like some of those alcohol bomb Shirazes from OZ but then I'm perverse.. it's those insipid wines from NZ that I have no problem spitting..
Kinda glad I kept the receipt on those panties....
I don't think they take returns on those things.
Oh no, my friend, not a drop of Lo Hai Qu in here. It's sort of Lenny Bruce meets Professor Irwin Corey--well, actually, it's just stupid. And meant to echo the vapidness of all the Wine for Dummies/Idiots/Biblethumpers/Beliebers/WSET Clowns books.
I won't tell Lo you called her Ho.
Oh, well, thank you. I do love to educate the public. As for my greatest hits, that's a Lo bar to get over. Or is that a Ho bar to get over? I'm confused.
I love you, too!
Well, as we say at HoseMaster of Wine™, "I know what I like." Which is what pyromaniacs and pederasts say.
I used to love those Australian Shiraz bombs, but I realize now I was swirling them the wrong direction. Dammit. Now they're too much, and I use the ones left in my cellar for curing leather. Of what, I don't know, but all my shoes are healed.
My Gorgeous Samantha,
Oh, sorry. Well, tell you what, it's my fault, so I'll split those panties.
Smooch. I love you!
Yeah, returning them just doesn't pass the sniff test.
Regarding this statement . . .
"It can be hard to put wine in your mouth and avoid your tongue, so, fine, use your tongue, but don’t expect to learn anything from it. Try to keep it out of the way, as if you were at the dentist’s office and he’s drilling. This is how professional tasters do it."
. . . I always thought that's why wine-guzzling critics and writers "taste" via the gavage force-feeding method:
"Over the lips and past the tongue/
Look out stomach here it comes!"
And this statement . . .
". . . remember, if it’s wine from Australia or New Zealand, swirl it in the opposite direction or you’ll totally ruin the wine. Many people think the wines from Australia suck when, really, they’re just swirling them in the wrong direction. There, Australia, problem solved."
. . . this unnatural swirling technique leads to debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome -- which no amount of high-octane Shiraz guzzling can mask the pain.
I'm sooooo going to use this one;
"People often ask what the legs in a wine measure. This is simple. They measure the stupidity of the person asking."
You sure your shoes aren't drunk? Is that why you walk funny??
Hey, you're getting the hang of this common tater thing.
I love the idea of tasting via the gavage technique. Maybe the French Laundry will one day serve Fish foie gras.
And you only get carpal tunnel from eating Goldfish underground. Yeah, I know, stupid.
Just make sure and give credit. Maybe give it to Jon Bonne.
Good question! They must absorb a lot of alcohol through their tongues. And I walk funny because my crotchless panties chafe.
This should be laminated and placed in tasting rooms everywhere.
It took me a second on "This is called the finish" but I think that is my favorite joke in the whole thing.
Though not my favorite joke on the hole thing.
It wouldn't help, but thank you, and thanks for chiming in.
Yes, "This is called the finish." is referred to as a "time bomb" joke. Though the key word is "bomb."
Brilliant! As always.
You make me giggle Ron! Thank you for bringing the levity.
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