No Frills Wine Tasting.. with a hint of “Top It Up” please

Vintage, tannin, tone, palate, finish, start, tobacco, dry, sweet blaaaaaaaah!!  Too much pressure!

Unless you are THE Winemaster, wine tasting is not rocket science.   The only question is, do you like it or do you not?

It’s important to understand that different wine will taste different to everyone! It all depends on the, yes,  I’m going to say it… palate!!  Interesting term don’t you think? Palate. According to the dictionary is a (noun) – meaning,  a persons ability to distinguish between and appreciate different flavours.  Then we have the “Colour Palette”.  Pronounced the same but with different meaning and different spelling.  Palate is non visual (taste,) and palette is visual (sight).  You are probably wondering, what on earth is she going on about!

Consider a palette of paint.   You have your primary colours.  Red, Blue, Yellow.  They are right there,  in your face. You cannot escape these primary colours, unless of course you are colour blind. You see yellow, and think of the yellow things you are familiar with.  You see red, and you feel the warmth or visualise strawberries.  You see blue,  you think of the sky, water, or coolness.  We relate these colours to the things we already know.

In our early years we only know a few colours.  Then we learn that mixing colours changes the the original colour.  The colour can change completely or it can change just slightly in tone.  The colour becomes more complex, changing your perception of the original colour.   This colour change causes you to think more deeply about it.  You may not like this new colour at first, or even be able to put your finger on the actual colour it has become. Sometimes it will grow on you and sometimes it won’t. After some time, you can finally put a name to this new colour.  You learn which  colours can be mixed to change a colour and compliment another. For example,  orange when mixed with blue, will become brown.  It now looks chocolaty and warm rather cool and peppery.  Well,  At least, it does to me!

Sometimes, though we get in a rut.   We like what we like, we rush through life wearing the colours we always wear.  We eat the same food and drink the same beverages we always have.  Some of us never give ourselves the opportunity to develop (That’s another story)!

The point is, from infancy, we are developing.  We are raw and immature.  We identify firstly with colours and flavours that are familiar to us.  As we mature; experience life, colours, textures, flavours,  our palette/palate matures.

Do we need to be a Vigneron, or Fashion Designer to enjoy/like fashion or wine? No!  We can trust the professionals to make our wine and our clothing.  All that we need to do is try it on, taste that wine, whirl, swirl and decide.  Is it for me?

Your wine palate is as mature as your colour palette at first.   Your (taste) palate will tell you what you like and don’t like in a wine.  Your opinion will be heightened by the conscious thought you put into your tastings.   Wine appreciation requires you to be present.  Your palate will develop and change over time as you continue to try different wines.  Newbies will generally enjoy sweeter tasting wines.  Those that drink wine (any type)  for the hell of it and without really thinking, will not be able to differentiate between wines, except for the fact that they are red, white, sweet or dry.

So, Here are my no frill rules to wine tasting:-

Take your time and be present

Look, smell, swirl,  look, smell swirl. Taste.   Breath in the aroma as you take a sip.  Swish and swallow.   Sit and wait.
Close your eyes.   Take notice of the different sensations that are provoked in your mouth. What memories did it provoke? How long did the flavour linger? What did it make your tongue feel like?  Did the tip of your tongue tingle? Did it dry your mouth out, or did it make your mouth water?

Stay honest to yourself

Did it remind you of caramel, grass, spices, perfume, ash, dirt, chocolate, dirty socks?   Could you imagine eating it with a juicy steak, cheese platter or dark chocolate?  Perhaps it would sit perfectly with your favourite Kransky, hot mustard and cheese.  But in all honesty, did it provoke good thoughts and feelings?

Sum it up

Did you like it? Well, did you?  If not,  don’t give up on tasting wine!  Keep experimenting! The wine varieties will taste different to you all the time. Not only will the year (vintage) play a part, but so will the wine growing climate and the one million other elements that only the Vigneron (winemaker) needs to know. Importantly, your interpretation of the wine will not only depend on your wine tasting journey to date, it will also depend on what you have just eaten or what you are eating with your wine at the time of your tasting and how present you are during the tasting.   This is as normal as learning to identify and relate to your first colours as an infant.

So, as you can see now, there is no right or wrong. You have no need to feel under qualified, inadequate, or stupid when you go on your next winery tour, or tasting.  Wine appreciation is a journey.  It is about you, your style and taste.  Take your time though, as this is the first step in wine appreciation.  In the end, If you want to describe your tasting as “fairies dancing on your tongue, with a hint of zesty lemon crumbs and a horse hair”  you are quite right!  For you, that is the truth.

God Bless Winemakers everywhere!
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So we are clear, (unlike the chicken and the egg),  the B&B did come before the Motel.  B&B’s have been around since the 1800’s, and Motels the 1900’s.  That is another story.
I have been in the Motel Industry for many years.  I have also stayed in many motels. As an operator for over 10 years,  it’s quite simple.   Simple in that, the customer arrives, money is exchanged, a key is handed over, and, if ordered, breakfast is delivered the following morning.  Sure, there may be some stand out services and facilities that motels may provide, such as, a pool/spa, gymnasium, tour booking service, and others.   A friendly welcome and good service is hoped for, and good operators will provide this,  however, most of us have experienced the “Basil” operator.  Lets be honest, everyone has bad days.! A shout out to motel operators everywhere, as it is a tough gig at times!
Prior to  becoming a B&B fan,  I perceived a B&B to be somewhere a couple might stay on a special occasion.  To this day, this is still so,  but further, and since the birth of the B&B in the 1800’s there is a B&B out there to suit everyone.  There is a B&B to suit your budget, style, interests, and overall personality.
There is one constant with the B&B, and that is the “personality” they bring to the table that a motel may not.  When I say personality, I refer to personal style, relaxed atmosphere, and personal touches. I also refer to to the level of guest/host interaction.
My partner, Neil and I have only been travelling using B&B’s for a couple of years.  Despite the varying prices and B&B styles, there has not been a time where that “personality” was  not present.
 The stand out of B&B’s to me as opposed to a Motel is:-
  • The noise factor.  B&B’s are generally really quiet.  Motels however, have this constant buzzing in the background (listen out next time). At motels, cars come and go, people in neighbouring rooms can become noisy,  and well, you have the early rising children next door (that aren’t your own).
  • B&B hosts have time for you!  Motel operators generally do not have quality one on one time to spend with you. The phones are ringing, there’s staff to deal with and customer’s checking in or out.  This is just the reality of a motel business with multiple rooms. The beauty of B&B’s is that the Hosts have time. The Hosts have physically put themselves off the radar to welcome you, and only you.  Ok, so this may not always be the case, as  there are reasons why sometimes this can’t happen.  Let’s say, it’s the general rule.
  • Another stand out quality of a B&B is the interesting hosts you come across!  I’m not at all saying that motel operators aren’t interesting or don’t have a story to tell, but, they usually don’t have the time to tell it!  If a B&B guest or host is up for a chat (which they usually are), it’s amazing who you come across.
  • Generally, B&B operators don’t have the overheads that a motel has.  A little extra service from the B&B Host, free of charge is not uncommon. For example, free breakfast, airport pick up and drop off,  free WiFi,  parking, a welcome beverage and or cheese platter.  Complimetary town shuttle, or discounted/free wine tours could also be offered. The list goes on.
  • B&B’s may have more modern and/or quality facilities, as the B&B owners don’t have the expense of having to fit out 20 or more rooms.
More to the point though, at a B&B you are a guest, and treated as such.  You are treated as a VIP due to the fact that there is only a small group to deal with.  At a motel, you are considered a guest, but treated as customer, due to the limited time and resources operators have to spread over large groups. In my opinion, this is just the way it is.
B&B?  Motel?  It’s a personal choice. For me, I love to stay at a B&B. I love  the “personality” a B&B offers.   I enjoy the host/guest interaction, the personal touches and the one on one service.
As a host, I find peace in the relaxed atmosphere that a B&B exudes.  I love the fact that I have time to tweak the B&B experience on a guest by guest basis.  I enjoy the host/guest interaction, and the wonderful people I am fortunate enough to get to know during the short stay.
What do you like about the B&B experience?
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