This was a signing session for my new book, the Good Web Guide to Wine in the Glasgow branch of Borders bookshop. I had decided that rather than just talk to the audience I’d conduct a little wine tasting, and what’s more, pep it up a bit by making it a fun version of a blind tasting. Scottish fine food and wine chain Peckhams generously provided three cases of wine for the event, plus an extra wine selection as a prize.
More than 150 people crowded into Borders and the event turned out to be enjoyable and a great success. The tasting was conducted in the style of the popular “Options Game” in which even novice wine tasters stand a chance of winning. For each wine tasted a series of simple questions was read out, along with two possible answers: one wrong; one right.
Participants chose their answer for each question, committed it to paper, and we continued until all the wines had been tasted and all the questions answered. The winner in wine options is the person who scores most, but the format of the game makes it less intimidating than a more formal blind tasting and means lucky guesses are an integral part of the format!
The winner on the evening managed to choose eight of the nine options correctly, and in a tie-breaker question, where the price of the final wine had to be guessed, was absolutely spot-on at £8.99 – very impressive!
Nord’Est (Italy, Sardinia) Vermentino 1999 – £3.49
This had a clean lemon-scented nose with little herbal and nut aromatics and a certain oilyness. The palate has quite good fruit and though very crisp, there is sufficient fruit to stand up to the acidity. Those who guess this was Australian, oaked, and cost £7.49 chose the wrong three options.
Torres (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 – £5.99
A lovely wine this, with the fresh, sweet, ripe clarity of the best Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, and a creamy, dense, plum-scented earthiness. In the palate it is balanced and fruity, with a mild tannic structure and acidity that gives a forward style, but very good balance. Delightful, and most people’s favourite on the night. Those who guessed this as a Merlot from Bordeaux at £7.99 got it wrong.
Mount Bold (Australia) Shiraz 1993 – £8.99
Peckhams have acquired a little parcel of this McLaren Vale Shiraz from somewhere, and a delight it is too for fans of a big, powerful and slightly volatile style. Lots of vivid mulberry and Porty notes ont the nose. Thick and still sweet on the palate, there is a lot of dark, powerful fruit and a whack of tannin. Slightly drying in the finish, but a very nice wine of it’s style and a bit of a bargain for a mature Shiraz. The incorrect options here were a Californian Nebbiolo from the 1998 vintage.
An awful lot of books were sold on the night. I’d like to thank everyone who came along to the event, especially those who bought a book or two!
A special mention and thanks goes to Stuart from Peckhams who organised the wines, and to the small army who helped Borders staff pour wines and mark quiz papers – Dawn, Alan, Ali and Sarah.
It was a very enjoyable evening.