Happiness as Anarchy #69: Wine Tasting

For anyone who knows even a little, this is really a no-brainer – wine tasting makes me very happy. Where to start with all the things I love about it?  First there’s the sensory pleasure, lighting up my flavour, aroma and texture receptors. Then there’s the joy of learning new things, both sensory and intellectually (I love wine stories so much I did a PhD on it). And there’s also the social aspect of tasting with other people and talking to wine producers. I would be lying if I didn’t mention the alcohol – wine tasting means it gets absorbed at a very measured pace, enough to make me happy but not drunk. Cheers!

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Happiness as Anarchy #39: Red Wine with Chocolate

Some flavour combinations appear more like a novelty match than a treat for the tastebuds, but looks can be deceiving. Red wine with chocolate falls squarely into this category – it seems like a gimmick (and some of the advertised tasting events are certainly pitched that way) but it is actually a great combination. It was pure chance that led me here tonight – I had a splash of wine in my glass as I walked past pantry and was lured by the sirenesque song of the dark chocolate. Before I knew it the two were dancing in my mouth and I was reminded what an excellent flavour match they are. Go on – try it for yourself! The good news is both red wine and chocolate rejuvenate aging cells, according to research at the University of Exeter.

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Prescription #2: De Bortoli Noble One, Botrytis Semillon 2003

A few weeks ago I had a serious tidy of the ‘keeping’ section of my cellar. It’s the part where you can’t stand up properly, need a torch to see anything and definitely cannot negotiate after too many drinks. My faithful drinking companion was there to assist me in the record keeping department and to hear my excited noises when I rediscovered old bottles I’d forgotten. It’s a bit like bumping into old friends, there’s a whole lot of love there but you’re not sure if you should leave them be to age gracefully or grab them by the hand and go out partying.

Most of the bottles stayed put, but we opened the 2003 Noble One, based on it’s colour. For a wine that’s only 15 years old, it is extraordinarily dark, which raised a red flag for how the wine would taste. I’m pleased to say it’s still drinking very well. Aromas of caramel and apricots, with just a smidge of kero, like the perfume of someone who has just left the room. On the palate prunes and walnuts. It’s smooth, not overly sweet or cloying like some stickies can be, and a good line of acid to balance. But the best thing is that a sticky will last in fridge for quite a while, so I’m still enjoying it a few weeks later. In fact, I’m having a little sip as I type!

Noble One

Prescription #1: Innocent Bystander 2011 Pinot Noir

I went hunting in the cellar last night for a bottle of Pinot Noir and discovered a box of Innocent Bystander 2011 Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley.

As you would expect from a wine that is seven years old, it is brick coloured, but still quite bright. On the nose there are smoky tones and red berries, and some delicate spices. It’s very smooth in the mouth, with a pleasing amount of acid and lingering tannins, and savoury, dark fruit flavours.

Dosage: 1-2 glasses with friend(s)
Take with food: baked figs stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in prosciutto and sprinkled with thyme.

wine bottle and glass