Art of wine tasting is knowing to spit it out

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

In fairness we weren’t much older than big boys at the time and the notion of a free night at a wine tasting reception beat the alternative option of watching Coronation Street on a small black and white portable telly.

Less than one year working in the Connacht Tribune and the invite came in for two to sample some of vino newly stocked on Irish shelves, as the nation slowly began to realise there might be more to this wine lark than just Blue Nun and Black Tower.

We’d all tasted wine before of course; two years in college might not have taught us much about journalism but we did learn that there were press receptions all over Dublin that were happy enough for students to turn up as a sort of rent-a-crowd to fill out the room and eat their fill of savoury sandwiches washed down with vino, once you gave a vague impression of being (a) a young journalist and (b) remotely interested in proceedings.

It was also critical not to draw attention to yourself by drinking too much or stuffing free biscuits into your pockets.

So we’d learned how to drink wine and to eat cheese and square pieces of pineapple off a cocktail stick, thus negating the need to fry sausages in a bedsit where the smell of Denny’s would otherwise hang in the air like a nuclear explosion for weeks.

The obvious next step was to embrace this brave new world of wine tasting, whatever that was meant to be.

On foot of an invite that in retrospect our hosts might have reviewed if they’d known it would work its way down to the office junior, off headed myself and an old mate from college who happened to be in town.

Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of that first and only evening of wine tasting, and it remains in part extraordinarily memorable and, equally, a complete and utter blank.

The problem was that nobody explained the concept to us, and we thought it was just about drinking copious amounts of wine.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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