On tasting wine when you have a head cold

Blocked sinuses. Muted sense of taste and smell. My body dosed with those ‘all in one’ cold and flu tablets from Boots.

Not the building blocks of a successful competitive wine tasting event. This became apparent on the first wine of the evening, when what I thought was a sauvignon blanc of some persuasion was actually a riesling – from New Zealand. Through the art of blagging we gained points by getting the country, vintage and price correct.

However, the thought going through my mind at this moment was this: oh crap.

I say ‘oh crap’ because I was on the same team as the head honcho of the company hosting the event. Didn’t want to let him down. Didn’t want to look like…a failure.

Next wine. Something white, oaky, elegant and wonderful. Surely it’s a chardonnay, I thought. Surely this is…Burgundy? Someone said viura. I pretended not to hear. Don’t be daft, I thought.

Burgundy it was – a Domain Christophe Buisson Saint-Romain. Maximum points. Hurrah.

Third wine – another white – and I found myself being torn in two directions. First sniff and a taste – I’m thinking this is another chardonnay. Burgundy again? Couldn’t be. Someone said the compère described it as quirky, out of the ordinary. Well that ruled out our option for a premier cru.

By the process of elimination we took at stab at calling it a viognier. But it didn’t *smell* of viognier, I said. Another person tried to call it an albarino. An albarino? Oh dear. Consider all the oak and hint of butter in there, I snapped back. This *must* be a chardonnay, I said. But the team voted for a viognier, so we went with it – and failed.

Chardonnay it was. A Cloudy Bay chardonnay. Oh dear. Victory is slipping away…

Next, the reds. Mild success was had in correctly identifying a Domaine Coche Dury Bourgogne Pinot Noir, then a Stephen Aviron Morgon Cote de Py Beaujolais. And then there was the Peter Franus cabnernet sauvignon, correctly identified after very nearly thinking it might have been Australian, but for the lack of a eucalyptus aroma.

Nostrils letting me down again. Strategic questions posed to the experts on hand keeping us afloat.

Victory was nearly ours but slipped from our hands in the final round. We correctly identified the Chateau Cantermerle, but our guess for the vintage was off by four years. We settled for joint-second and a half-bottle of white Burgundy to take home.

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