“On went my hat of pretension as I cleaned my palate with water, alas no bread or crackers to ensure I started fresh with neutral flavours,” writes wine columnist RICHARD CALVER
ACT 1 Scene 1: A priest, a rabbi and a vicar walk into a grog shop in Manuka. The shop assistant says: ”Is this some kind of joke?” Cut!
Really Act 1 Scene 1: The author walks into Vintage Cellars in Manuka and asks: “Do you have a Canberra district rosé in stock please?”
The shop assistant says: “Yes, it’s a Lerida Estate 2017 pinot noir rosé.” And there was no punchline, although I did mention to the salesman that there is usually so much choice in his shop that I feel as confused as the dyslexic man who walked into a bra. But on this occasion, only one Canberra district rosé.
I purchased the wine for $17. I wanted to pit a Canberra district rosé against one supplied by the Wine Gallery, a wine supplier I’ve recently signed up to. They send three bottles of wine a month for $23 a bottle plus freight costs.
The wines are selected after you take a web-based quiz that asks you questions about your taste preferences.
The mystery selections are made from that initial test and from any ongoing electronic feedback that you give. In the second month’s selection is a rosé; a wine style that I generally choose not to drink, with (wistful sigh) the exception that it became an aperitif of choice at the end of the day when I was working in Geneva three years ago. The rosé chosen by the Wine Gallery is a Bondar 2017 grenache from the McLaren Vale. The blurb that comes in the packaging says that it is “Australian wine at its best”.
Two bottles of wine mean at least four people should be here to taste: I invite four people for dinner. Two come as an item, like the man and woman in the shop wrapped up in a barcode. The other is a dear friend and the fourth my son who is ever keen to learn about wine and getting to know what he likes.
Act 1 Scene 2: Five people standing around awkwardly swirling wine in their glasses on instruction. I tell them that they have to distinguish number 1 (the Bondar) from number 2 (no sniggling, children!) and tell me which one they like and why. Well, says the youngish male guest: “I’m no wine connoisseur, but this is a bit bland.” His companion: “It’s inoffensive.” My son: “I’m getting nothing (I say: “Until I die, ha, ha”). My input: a hint of strawberry with a good clean acidic finish. But pretty anodyne.” The good friend: “Dunno just don’t like the taste.”
Act 1 Scene 3: Five people standing around much less awkwardly. “This has a better smell,” says the son. I say: “Yes the bouquet is fruitier, gives more lusciousness.” “Yeah, whatever…” is the response.
Male guest: “This has more body, a bigger taste.” Me: “Yet the grape variety would point you in the other direction, interesting.” Female guest: “I think I’ll drink this with the duck, it is very pleasant.” The good friend: “I don’t like the taste of this one, either.” “Okay I sigh, let’s drink something else.”
Act I Scene 4: We are eating duck breast with a garlic and Oloroso sauce. The female guest is eating it with the Canberra district rosé. Everyone else has flagged away the rosé because it is just okay whereas the pinot noir and the cabernet I serve are just more suitable. And then comes the even more awkward question: “Did you pay for those rosés?”
“Yes,” I say. “Don’t worry, as Catherine Deneuve said: “I don’t enjoy. I suffer from enjoying.”