Many of my more abstaining readers may be shocked to learn that Mother Goose enjoys a glass of wine now and then! Indeed, I do find great joy in the occasional sip — just to dip my beak into a half-filled crystal goblet brings a smile to the feathery face of this old goose. Of course, I imbibe for medicinal purposes only, you understand. As the great apostle of old advised his young friend Timothy, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” (1st Timothy 5:23)
Recognizing my ever-present health concerns, my dear friend, Jane, invited me to her first annual wine tasting party.
Mind you, this was no run o’ the mill drinking party, but a well-organized and well-attended event. Several of Jane’s most intellectual and well-heeled friends were invited to learn more about wine and to taste some very exquisite varietals around the fireplace of Jane’s new home. There was gaiety and spontaneous laughter and much making of merriness as befitting the holiday season.
Jane had brought in a wine expert for this occasion — a young man by the name of Chuck Keller, and he is an actual wine advisor with a unique company called Wines for Humanity. He travels to your home with his case of fine wines. A portion of the profits of wine sales for the evening are funneled into a worthy cause such as support of shelters for homeless families with children, or aid to the wounded warriors in our country.
Chuck poured a bit of wine into each of our glasses and began educating us about the fine art of wine tasting. Our first sample for the evening was a light-bodied Italian white wine. He patiently explained to us how to examine the color of the wine by holding our glass up to the light.
After we ooooh’d and ahhhh’d about the lovely color, Chuck demonstrated how to tip our glasses at nearly a 180 degree angle so as to judge the “legs” of the wine. Mother Goose was somewhat confused at this idea, but apparently we were to watch for how the golden liquid clung to the inside of our goblet as we tilted it back upright.
This was all quite odd to Mother Goose — I had to pause and reflect how the legs of a wine might influence my drinking of the wine… In the end, it didn’t matter to much to me personally, as all the wines we tasted and retasted were all quite excellent to my palate regardless of the thickness or length of their legs.
When we had ogled the legs of the wine for long enough, our wine advisor showed us the proper method for swirling the wine in our glasses so as to release the bouquet of the grapes. This is not as easy as it appears. You must set your glass on a flat surface and then briskly rub the bottom of the goblet around and around in a vicious circle. Then immediately bring the glass up to your nose and using both nostrils, sniff deeply the aromas of the wine.
This was truly glorious to Mother Goose who had never experienced the rush of wine odors before this particular evening. It is in the swirling of the wine that the very complex smells are mixed with air and then sent wildly into your olfactories. We could identify hints of vanilla, tobacco, berries, pears, cranberries, violets, earthiness in the red wines, and even grapes in the bouquets of these various wines.
At this point in the tasting, our lovely and amusing hostess had an interesting question: “Chuck, are these smells and flavors built into the grapes or do they add natural flavorings to make it taste so good?” I was glad that she asked this question because Mother Goose has also wondered at times how these wines made from grapes can taste and smell so differently. Perhaps you have also wondered that same question… Our wine advisor patiently advised us all that these wines have no added ingredients except yeast to hasten the process of fermentation.
And then at last when Mother Goose was becoming so thirsty and her throat so parched that she thought she might faint, we were encouraged to drink our wine. And oh the joy that filled my heart!
And on and on it went throughout the evening. Starting with the Italian white, moving to a New Zealand Savignon Blanc, over to France for a country red, back to Italy for a deeper red, to Argentina for a Malbec and at last we finished with a Golden Cream Tango served in a tiny chocolate cup. We sipped, we tasted, we nibbled on all the tasty foods at the table — cheese, crackers, shrimps, olives, sushi and even some sweet and sour meatballs.
We learned so much about wine and wine-making and wine-growing regions of the world. We learned history and geography and language. We learned some chemistry, and we learned social graces. We learned about sulfites and the difference between twist-on caps vs. natural corks vs. unnatural corks. We learned about wine pairings which is simply discovering which wines compliment which foods. In fact, Mother Goose even heard Chuck say that wine is perhaps a wonderful condiment for the foods we eat, and I liked hearing that!
But, of course, I only drink a bit of wine for the health of my stomach, you understand…
And it was all really fun for Mother Goose. In fact, the evening just got more and more fun by the minute. My stomach never felt better!
Dear reader, I hope that you will find yourself in the presence of some discerning wine tasters this holiday season. Do not be intimidated by the complexity of the wine you sample, but only let your heart soar to new places as you sample wines from around the world. Let your love take flight on the wings of a dove as you enjoy time with your family and friends and the fine fruit of the vine.
And thank you, dear Jane, for including me in your intimate gathering of sippers and tasters. I’m sorry this picture of you is so blurry — I guess that means that your wine tasting party was a wonderful success!
Jane and Allen might have tasted even more wine than Mother Goose…for their health, of course!