Originally uploaded by SEngstrom.
If you give me a glass of wine and ask me what I smell, I will duly stick my nose in the glass, breathe in, and blink at you.
It's not because I don't know the fruit smell; no, I know it well. It's just that I can't put my finger on it. I can't identify pear, or blackcurrants, or green apples, until you remind me that's what I should be sensing and then I will nod sagely in your direction, slap my thigh, and say "egads, man, good job - that's precisely what it is!".
So to redress this, K and me went along tonight to NoMi at the Park Hyatt Chicago for a client wine tasting. Led by the hotel's master sommelier, we first tasted 3 glasses of water, to which something 'extra' had been added (first sugar, then salt, then vodka) just so we could appreciate the way to smell/taste the wines later on. Would you believe that I was about to suggest the 3rd water had some sort of spirit added to it? My taste buds just knew.
And when we finally DID move on to the wines, we started with whites. Trying to trick us (I guess), the sommelier gave us two different chardonnay - one from France and one from the US, and the latter was also oaked, adding yet another layer of complexity. We talked about how to determine the age of the wine and he shared tips to help you identify old world vs new world wines. Very cool.
And I didn't know this, but apparently it helps when trying to identify the fruit aromas to narrow the type of fruit you're smelling down to citrus (lemons/limes), stone fruits (peaches/apricots), orchard fruits (apples), or ground fruits (melons). Naturally I can't really remember which wines fall into which categories of fruits, but at least I remembered something people. In this day and age of early-onset dementia, let's just be grateful for that.
My buddy L from the Hyatt then took me on a walking tour through NoMi's restaurant and private dining rooms and I got to meet all the staff, including the uber talented French head chef, oh la la. The NoMi cocktail lounge far exceeds Disneyland (in my estimations anyway) as the Happiest Place on Earth. [And second place goes to Tiffany's on 5th Avenue in New York, in case you're wondering.]
I feel pretty proud of myself for heading to tonight's wine tasting,. And I'm particularly grateful that it wasn't a threatening, only-one-answer-is-possible affair. Our sommelier was young, handsome, knowledgeable and friendly. And in such beautiful surrounds, I would say that my new-found appreciation for the dos and donts of wine tasting, means that this Aussie Eliza Doolittle (or Eliza Do-Alot as it sometimes feels) is doing pretty well, all things considered.