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Opening a bottle should be a social occasion

By Richard at Great Grog

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The shared experience of tasting wine is an integral part of the process.
The shared experience of tasting wine is an integral part of the process.

I fully realise that this anti-social distancing is going to have profound consequences for all events and gatherings. I’m not sure how some industries will be able to adapt to the changes. I very much wish the best for everyone affected by this nightmare.

One of the pillars of the wine trade is the wine tasting event. They are a vital part of the repertoire for any merchant and certainly one of the most pleasurable experiences of being a huge fan of wine.

The shared experience of tasting wine in a group is just plain, unadulterated good fun. Drinking or eating together is a social glue for humans and it is currently unstuck with little chance of repair any time soon.

There is something very satisfying about tasting the same wine at the same time with other people, and chatting (arguing?) about it. Everyone has a slightly different slant on how they interpret flavours.

Our taste buds are all slightly different, both in type, density and distribution. The sense of taste is incredibly complex and is very heavily interwoven with our sense of smell. These complexities and variations mean that we all taste things slightly differently.

However, when we chat about wines we can metaphorically come together. It is amazing how much common ground we can often find in a wine. You will often have a “lightbulb” moment when someone else mentions a nuance of flavour in a wine.

Pretty much every wine merchant in the UK now has some sort of online tasting going on to try and replicate the social aspect of wine tasting. We at Great Grog are doing a weekly Facebook Live event presenting three wines on a Friday evening. These have proved popular, albeit a poor replacement of the real thing.

Three wines might be too much for one household to consume in one sitting, so, please put any leftover wines in the fridge, this will keep them fresh for days once opened. This even applies to the reds. Pop the cork back in the bottle (or the screwtop back on). This will stop more oxygen getting in and preserve the fruit. A refrigerated wine will last for many days. If it is a red wine, take out the fridge a few hours before drinking to bring back up to ideal drinking temperature, which is generally a coolish room at about 18 degrees.

I look forward to getting together to be physically in the same room as other people and drinking – and tasting – wine with them. The internet tasting isn’t quite the same as the real thing, but it is better than nothing. I also look forward to hugs and handshakes. We are social animals after all.

  • Richard Meadows worked with a national wine chain for 10 years before setting up his own company in Edinburgh in 1999. Richard, usually a regular visitor to the Highlands, now employs 15 people and sells all over the UK via mail order and the internet as Great Grog.

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