Wine Tasting Strategy

Wine Tasting Strategy
Stewart’s system at tastings is to start with the most expensive wine and work his way down. I met him at in Gringotts Bank’s at an event organised by Wines of Australia. Actually we were in the impressive exhibition hall at Australia House, the Australian Government’s London embassy, which the makers of the first Harry Potter movie had used for the bank’s interior.

Stewart explained that he bought inexpensive wines and this was an opportunity to taste wines outside his experience and to see if he could discover what made them worth so much. But his conclusion was that, if they were superior, his palate wasn’t sophisticated enough to notice. His system has merits. By the time I got around the expensive wines, most had run out.

It’s a good idea to approach a walk around tasting with a plan. Mine at this one was to start with Italian varieties, including Montepulciano and Nebbiolo, not usually exported from Australia. There was no opportunity to buy, so it was a learning experience.

Three week previously I’d been at Independent Vignerons fair in Lille, France. There were more than 650 stands with independent wineries from all over France showing and selling their wines over four days. There was no possibility of tasting every wine so on the afternoon I arrived I concentrated on Champagnes and sparkling wines. For tax reasons fizz is the best bargain when buying wine in France. Though I tasted many excellent ones, none pleased me enough at a price I liked enough to carry home.

It is essential at events selling wine that you know the prices of similar wines back home. When abroad one also needs to keep a close eye on exchange rates and credit card currency conversion fees. It is easy to get carried away and find one has overpaid.

I spent nearly all of my second, and final day of my two days in Lille at the fair, looking for red wines. They had to be ones that my partner and I would enjoy with food. She likes Grenache based wines, as do I, and also Bordeaux reds. I also tasted others that took my fancy.

One wine that I specifically looked for was a Carignan blend I’d bought from a small merchant in France two years before, but I couldn’t find it and there were few other Carignans.

I came away with two cases of red Bordeaux and two cases of southern French Grenache blends.

On the journey home I found the current vintage of wine - Château Etang des Colombes from Corbieres - that I’d been looking for at a bargain price. And it had the logo of the Independent Vignerons.

Independent Vignerons -
Château Etang des Colombes ‘Rouge Tradition -

Talk about wine on our forum.

Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape.

Disclosure: Peter May paid for the tastinga and for all the wines he purchased.

Related Articles
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Previous Features
Site Map

Content copyright © 2023 by Peter F May. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Peter F May. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Peter F May for details.