Making Friends with Wine…
by Dr. Maenka Arora
Drenched in euphoric excitement of being in my adopted country I began afresh my journey of finding me some mates.
Like Alice in Wonderland, I stumbled onto the tellurian realm of wine snobs, a world where everyone pretends to be an expert on wine. There’s pompous theatrics, brilliant showmanship when opening the bottle, the twirling that rivals a ballerina, the sniffing, and of course the eternal dilemma – to drink or to spit. Like a sweet little lamb, I was completely enamoured by this whole elaborate production. Sitting on the sidelines, I felt honoured to just be a part of it even, if only as an awed spectator.
To give you background, we often celebrate the fact that the world of wine is international and ubiquitous, but from my slightly myopic Indian point of view – the world of wine is still at a nascent stage there. The choice of our tipple is still the hard liquor. A goblet of wine is still an elite drink to be sipped on special gatherings.
Rumor has it, missionary zeal is required to make a quantum change so I dive head on to cultivate and enlighten myself to be crowned a true connoisseur of wine except, the esoteric descriptions I found online had my head spinning. To elucidate, here’s one up for grabs – “this wine might be called liquefied Viagra. An incredibly sexy nose of smoke, black fruits, cappuccino and tasty wood and is followed by an expansive, terrifically concentrated wine with sumptuous texture, no hard edges.” For heaven’s sake, what does this mean … is wine the new Viagra? Nose of smoke?? No hard edges??? Am I still on earth???? I seemed to be experiencing some deep existential crisis. I baulked with a mixture of shock and aggravation at the nonsensical way the character of poor wine was described. Realisation that I was way out of my depth descended like a shadowy cloak and in that long poignant moment I decided to get a crash course straight from horse’s mouth, the spell-binding, the spine-tingling, the ever so mystical, most revered ‘THE WINE TASTING’. With a steely resort of a zealot, armed with all the wine jargon I could cram and a magical cloak of Google, I marched triumphantly towards my goal of being crowned ‘the queen connoisseur of wine’.
I have dined on this story so often that the embarrassment I felt at the time has since thankfully, abated. I went through the whole shebang of wine tasting with twinkly eyes and excessive nodding, I was observant, I was diligent, I studied the label, swirled the glass, sniffed and finally sipped. The lunacy of my plan became apparent when the sommelier asked me: So, what do you taste? Like an eager beaver trying to impress the teacher, I opened my mouth and lo-and-behold, nothing came out. That very instant my memory deserted me, my grey matter turned to mush. In that moment I could relate more to Julius Caesar than to my family. With betrayal so evident, I am sweating by litres, hyperventilating and I stammer, “I….I….I taste WINE”. She laughed, my husband laughed, my friends laughed even the itsy bitsy spider laughed. I was doomed. Well, I guess wine and I suffer from a Shakespearean relationship bordering on Greek tragedy. Then and there an inevitable, monumental decision was made, no spitting only drinking.
On our way back my hubby complained that I stank of wine and I said NO – I smell of cherry with a hint of oak. He laughed.
Wine Slang: Don’t Be A Cork Dork
Good legs – Hopefully the person you’re drinking with. At very worst, a wine with a high alcohol content.
Herbaceous – Best left to the garden. Or a way to describe that attractive “cut grass” quality, usually found in Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc.
Quaffable – if something is acceptable drinking at home from Monday night through to Thursday night.
Puckery – Like sucking on a lemon. Describes highly tannic and very dry wines, like all the moisture is being sucked out.
Donut wine – Wine that’s lacking in structure mid-palate.
Oaky – It’s just ok.
Waiter’s friend – Someone who turns up to a bar, just before closing ready for ‘staffies’. Or a popular type of corkscrew.