On Friday night I attended a wine tasting with a difference at QEGS. I’ve attended wine tastings before and even bought wine as a result. I’m no connoisseur and I realise I have no memory for what I’ve tasted. I do know whether I like or don’t like the wine but so much good wine is meant to be eaten with food which makes it difficult to judge properly.
I’m certainly no fan of the snobbishness around wine. I’ve been to a French supermarkets and been bewildered by the varieties on offer. I normally go by colour, strength and price. I can just about swirl a sample in a glass with enough vigour to aerate but not too much vigour to distribute the contents more widely. I’ve learnt the art of tipping the wine and letting the ‘legs’ form on the sides of the glass – I can do it but I’m not really sure why. I can dip my nose into the glass and breathe in and even pick out the odd notes but they seldom match the notes on the label. If it’s not anything I am likely to have encountered in a yoghurt I am very unlikely to identify it.
Certainly appreciating the colour comes naturally to me – again I can identify it but I am not fully aware of the significance. And then comes the interesting bit. Under no circumstances do I ever intend to spit away a perfectly good glug of wine. At some tastings I’ve tried a sample that I would happily not finish but even then; waste not, want not. I draw the line at the swooshing and gurgling in the mouth. I just find it really odd and, quite frankly, the wine should work a little harder on its own to make me be able to taste its loveliness. In summary, I think I am a drinker not a taster and Friday’s event was perfect in that respect.
The FPTA had used the Main Hall at QEGS and around 80 turned up for a wine drinking evening. There was a broad range of wines on trial and the format was informal. Each wine was introduced by a speaker from the FPTA. Now it is probably a tribute to the evening that I can’t remember all the wines, some of the speakers and the order they were in.
I do know we had a Chardonnay. It’s a whole since I’ve had Chardonnay. It used to be all the fashion to have unoaked Australian with just about anything. In this occasion it went perfectly well with some crisps and peanuts. Very quaffable.
The second was a trip down memory lane. Andrew Walker took us back to the 80s with Mateus Rose in its very distinctive bottle. We were reminded of the time before Britain really drank wine in any volume when Blue Nun, Leibfraumilch, and Bulls Blood were the staple for any dinner party. I was actually pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as sweet as I was expecting and the chilled bottles were perfectly fine.
There was a Hardys Cabernet Sauvignon in there somewhere I think. I always consider Cab Sav as a bit of a brutal red wine that definitely needs some roast meet with it rather than as a gentle sipping drink. Hunters are made of stringer stuff though and we were regaled with tales of hunting in the chilly Norfolk Marshes followed by long evenings in the warm sipping away at this.
‘Jose’ Martin Farr gave an excellent PowerPoint which began with more hunting, this time wild boar in the South East of France. The presentation was only loosely linked to Côte de Roussillon by way of a travelogue and advertisement for his holiday home near Perpignan. Apparently you can buy it by the litre in plastic containers at the local cooperatives but unfortunately it doesn’t travel well. The bottles he was offering on the night were jolly decent though. I’m not sure whether he got any bookings during the evening but it was a strong pitch.
Hereward Tressidder promoted the virtues of Chilean Carmenere which made its way by accident across the Atlantic from Bordeaux. He even provided an inferior version for comparison.
The evening ended with a dab of Madeira.
Alongside the ample supplies of the featured wines there was plenty more for sale and a raffle too. The evening raised £400 which will go towards a 3D printer.
Alongside the alcoholic attractions, Governor Simon Griffiths gave a tantalising hint that the next OFSTED report will be a very good one which is excellent news for QEGS and Ashbourne. The school under its new leadership team has clearly put in a huge amount of work over the last couple of years and this seems to have paid off in a very short period of time. It was nice to see staff and Governors supporting the FPTA event. I had the pleasure of speaking to Sue Farr, Assistant Headteacher, and she exudes the passion for excellence which any successful organisation needs.
All in all, a fun evening, some great raconteurs, some valuable funds for the school and the hints of some even better news to come.