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The Black Stuff..
Your mention of Irish origins reminded me of a leisurely afternoon in that Irish pub near the Beijing
Central train station... a few pints of Guinness went down a treat with a steak and kidney pie, and chips...
and a few games of pool...bliss.
Every person's palate (ie their taste preferences) is different, so they need to experiment and try
different wines to 'discover' their favourite wines - few programs of education are as enjoyable as this
process of tasting many different wines! The best, and cheapest, way to do this is at wine-tastings
where you can taste a number of wines and compare them. Some of the wine merchants and hotels
in Beijing host these tastings. Do keep an eye out for them.
One mistake many wine drinkers make is to let someone else tell them what they should like. I often
see people in wine shops clutching an excerpt from a newspaper which contains an article from a
wine writer recommending a certain wine and giving it a high score. There are two problems with
this. Firstly, the wine writer may well have been paid to say good things about that wine. Secondly,
even if the writer is genuine in their praise, their preferences in wine may be very different from the
person buying the wine they have recommended.
To really get the most pleasure out of wine we have to develop our palates by tasting different
wines. At fine wine tastings around the world, two main conclusions are made about a particular
wine: Is it well made; however, even if it is, this does not mean that we have to like it. I have often
been less than pleased by wines that have been the subject of serious hype.
Genuine wine tastings should also be done 'blind'; this is where where the bottle is wrapped up so
that details of the wine, such as its country of origin, winemaker, grape etc.,, are unkown to the
drinker. On this basis, the drinker can only judge the wine on its merits and not be unduly
influenced by the reputation of that wine, or its price.
Unfortunately, there are many people in the wine business who are less than honest about
the wines they are promoting. In the UK, for instance, I've encountered fellow wine educators
and writers hosting wine tastings on behalf of supermarkets. The wines they are promoting are
usually the cheap, bland wines that the supermarket wants to sell in great numbers. I know
that my wine friends would never dream of actually buying, or drinking, such low-quality wine;
but there they are, praising it to the skies in return for a fat fee.
There is a famous wine phrase, in Latin - vino veritas - which means "in wine there is truth". But the
person who has to discover that truth is the individual wine drinker.