Fraussie, with whom I have been staying in Blois at Closerie Falaiseau, suggested that we do a wine dégustation at Vinomania in Blois. Knowing that my wine knowledge was very poor, I was only too happy to agree. Friday evenings whilst the locals were making their way to bars to watch the latest football match we headed to the wine bar come restaurant. Virginie, our effervescent, knowledgeable sommelier, tailored a three hour comprehensive session for us in English that covered information about the various production areas in the Loire Valley, history of the winemaking in the area and the methodology of wine tasting.
Being an absolute novice about wine there was so much that was new to me. I was comforted to know that I am not the only one who tends to panic when wine tasting feeling pressured to identify 'correctly' the smells and tastes. Most reassuring and liberating to be told that it really comes down to perception and what I think or taste is not necessarily right or wrong.
I didn't know that the very first sense when tasting wine is not sight, but in fact hearing. As the wine is poured we are already making judgements about the density and whether it is sparkling or flat. We then looked at the visual clues the wine provides and then progressed through first, second and third nose. Finally we got to taste, first time spitting out and the second time swallowing. It was particularly interesting to talk about how we first detect the smell and then afterwards our brain works at recognising the smell based on our memories and experiences. Fraussie most impressively could pick the wines. I however was just content to recognise that there was something amiss with one of the wines. It appears that I need to do a lot of homework to establish reference points for tasting wines. What better place to do it than in France?
If you are looking to develop or enhance your wine tasting knowledge then I highly recommend Virginie at Vinomania in Blois, although the private sessions at 120 € for two people are not cheap.
Vinomania12, rue du Poids du Roi
Tel: +33 2 54 90 17 66