“Consistency in a world gone mad” is tagline that could be applied to your favourite beer but not to your favourite grape. Picture the scene, it’s Friday evening and after a hard week in the office you’re looking forward to unwinding in front of the fire with a glass of your usual Chardonnay. Much to your consternation, the local wine shop out of stock of your usual tipple. Instead you are recommended another label you haven’t tried before. So it’s a few euros extra, but any port in a storm says you. You land home, uncork the wine and prepare to weld yourself to the couch for the evening. “What fresh hell is this?” you think to yourself after taking the first sip. That elegance and finesse you were expecting has instead been replaced by what feels like liquid Kerrygold butter.
I think this is a scenario many of us have faced before. Attempting to broaden our horizon of wine, we take a risk and the results sometimes fall far short of our expectations.
But fear not, I may have a solution.
Call me biased but I believe it’s fair to say that the intersectionality of art and science reaches its zenith at the wine tasting bar. I’ve seen titans of industry stubborn with reason being humbled into silence by new wines and styles. With one proustian sip anxieties of the future melt away to be replaced by the sensual delights of the here and now.
I have to keep reminding myself that wine is still an intimidating subject for many people. I’m fortunate in that I get to taste the majority of the wines I recommend. I’ve a very good sense of what I do and do not like. This takes a lot of time, curiosity and effort (we all have our crosses to bear). The majority of drinkers are not so lucky. It’s no surprise that once people find a style they like, they stick with it particularly with the seemingly constant meteoric rise in prices everywhere. “To broaden horizons” would be the opening line of my tasting bar manifesto.
I will openly admit that as soon as you sidle up to the tasting bar I am in the business of selling. Not wines, but an experience and I wish to take you on a voyage of discovery. Granted, this is quite a grandiose claim. But there is no better feeling that recommending a new wine to someone that stops them in their tracks (The first give away sign is the eyes opening wide). It is also a shared experience and bottles are built for 2.
The tasting bar is the proverbial safe space. Say, think and drink what you wish, within reason. The only request I have from people is that they are honest in their assessments of the wine.
James Joyce wrote that “In the particular is contained the universal” and the wines people love can sometimes act as mirrors and always as gateways. So if you want to discuss your last Spanish holiday while sipping a Rioja, maybe you’ve fallen out of love with Sauvignon Blanc or that time you inadvertently paired your steak with a Beaujolais? Well then, lets chat.
You know where to find me.
- Shane Golden