Every year of living in France we’ve visited nearby Peissy, in the Genevois basin, to taste the wines as part of the St Martin’s Day celebration of new wines. It’s a fun day – the people are friendly, the wines (especially the whites) are excellent and there is some good food, too. I’m certainly no connoisseur, just an enthusiastic amateur but it’s a great chance to find out what the local Swiss wines are like.
It occurred to me while we were there that the tongue is at the root of wine tasting. Not only does it taste the wines, of course – but you get to talk about them. After a couple of ‘tastes’ (I drink, not pour) it gives you the confidence to speak freely about the flavours you find in the wines – I think it frees the palette, too.
This freedom of the tongue stops short of declaring that the wines taste like ‘sweaty gym shoes on hot tarmac’ but it does mean you get to think about what you drink, which has to be a good thing. You might even find yourself saying things like ‘high tones’ or ‘long oaky finish’ if you’ve tasted enough. That said, no one appears to be drunk, of course – and young adults drink them, too. What an education. It helps understand why people are said to have a healthier attitude to drinking.
A wine tasting event like this – which is informal, and run by the people who make the wines, so it’s an enthusiastic encounter, is perfect for tasting different wines all together, one after the other, so you get to compare. This is invaluable, I think – when you taste several together you can really understand some of the differences between them.
Another pleasure is to take the camera. It’s autumn and despite some high temperatures for this time of year, the leaves have begun to fall and vines change colour. So, there’s some good opportunities to capture that my camera. Something for the eye and the tongue, then.