Sunday, 30 October 2011


How often do we stand perplexed trying to discern some smell or taste or both when tasting Champagne that some other person commented on in his/hers books about wine and Champagne?

How many of us have wondered about 'Am I any good at this if I can't smell what I am supposed to be smelling (or that everyone else says they smell)?

Personally, I try and avoid describing anything I taste in great detail. I do describe it to people to offer guidance in understanding the differences between various Champagnes but ultimately my approach to tasting is somewhat reactive. I rarely skim through books to have an understanding of what a Champagne that I have not tasted should be like. I do admit that when stripped for cash I revisit other peoples' notes on some Champagne to psychologically relive the wine and strangely, I often reminisce in such detail that it seems as though I am drinking the Champagne. What a bloody cheat! And believe it or not, often my memories of the Champagne and the notes in the books could not be more different.

My point however has always been to allow people to explore Champagne in their own way. I wish I had the wisdom of the world of Champagne, but fortunately I don't so I am still left with desiring more and desiring new discoveries. The truth is that with my excessive consumption the rate of major discoveries has diminished and that is why I am always slightly envious of those who with great interest immerse themselves in learning about Champagne and more importantly the discoveries they will make. There is a tax of disappointment in that but with time that diminishes yet even I take a risk of being disappointed. My risk taking is now much dependant on my budget which is not as overflowing as it was some 6 months ago but it is truth undisputed that the higher the price the higher the expectation.

The reasons behind my being very limited in speaking about Champagne is manifold. I often feel that my experience of it is not so adequate nor as pristine as it used to be, but in the days when it was I thought it was inadequate because it was not objective and hardly ever consonant with what the big names of wine world said about any specific wine. From innocence to prostitution I realised, what Jung worded in following, that 'any form of formal training inhibits freedom of expression' (Amen!). So as much as I was interested in taking on formal training, I reconsidered and thus sabotaged my career as a sommelier, but at least I preserved at least some form of innocence and desire to learn and in fact more so, to experience an unadulterated pleasure of drinking Champagne. Differing tastes of fruits of the same sort are just as confusing.

Some might despair in that 'Oh I wish I could taste this and that that someone has written about'. Wish for it and it might just happen, but as the old gypsy curse goes 'be careful what you wish for as you might just get it and then you ll have to pay for it'.

Red apples, green apples, strawberries, cherries, white flowers, honey, acacia flower, acacia wood, raspberries, blood oranges, limes etc etc. Ever wondered how differently they taste? or smell? When they write about all the fruits, has it ever occurred to them that when you buy strawberries they often hardly taste of anything. Or when green apples are mentioned is there any specific reference to golden deliscious or granny smith or some forgotten summer variety? In fact I really would like to meet the person that knows what acacia wood smells like! It is a childhood smell of my grand mother's barn in which she stored all the wood for winter from the near by forests plagued by acacia trees and killed all the local and original habitat. Still the scent is unmistable! And if I were to describe it my words would not correctly convey the experience in such a fashion that as such I would be able to evoke the exact or at least some convincing proximation of the image I perceive.

And the last sentence of the paragraph is exactly what happens when you read what the connoisseur is trying to say to so many yet without a shadow of doubt he fails, but succeeds in impressing. Because drinking a lot is impressive! and have tasted a lot is equally impressive!

There are invariably differences just as there are difference in experiences and in life experiences so I would never dare assume that my life experience would indicate what others ought to experience. If however, someone says a politically correct diffuser 'All Depends On Personal Taste'  (A.D.O.P.T.) well quite frankly, it does not depend on the choice but the experience so, smile and drink on your own!