Saturday, 11 January 2014

The Perks of the Job

I was hesitant about publishing this post because I don't want to encourage the misconception that working in a winery is just a good excuse to drink lots of wine for free.  However, in saying that, I was not complaining when the afternoon of my second day of training involved a wine tasting session!

Apart from the fact that we had the opportunity to taste the entire range of white and red wines currently produced on the premises, the most rewarding aspect of the afternoon was witnessing the passion that the winemakers had for the wines they were personally responsible for producing.  As they poured our tasting glasses, they discussed the source of the grapes, the specific techniques that were used and why they had used these processes.  And you could tell from the care they took in explaining the finer points of each wine, that just as much care and concern would have gone into the making.

Another interesting part of this wine education session was learning about some common wine faults that we will need to be vigilant in detecting.  We had the opportunity to smell (and taste, if you could handle it) three faulty wines:

1. Oxidised wine - this occurs when a wine has had too much exposure to oxygen.  It takes on a stale and 'stewed fruit' smell.

2. Volatile Acidity (VA) - ethyl acetate and acetic acid occur in wine and a small amount  can be part of the wine style, however if there is too much, it will taste like vinegar.

3. Brettanomyces - this is a bacteria that can spoil wine. The taste can be described as medicinal or 'bandaid-like' and some people think it smells 'horsey' or like wet animal.

I couldn't help but mention that we also had the opportunity to taste a fortified white that has been an ongoing experimenting at the winery for a number of years.  The oldest component of grapes (primarily verdelho) in this wine is from 1957!  Immediately when I smelt it, I was reminded of maple syrup, but to taste it was even better, as the acidity of the verdelho grapes cut through the luscious stickiness so that it was not sickly, just rich, creamy goodness.

The Tasting Lineup