Nasal gazing

Max Crus
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Autumn mist over the vineyard

Autumn mist over the vineyard

The Chinese are disgusted that Westerners use hankies. Ms L. isn’t all that fond of the practice either, and well, it is pretty revolting.

Yet many Australians are appalled at the Asian and European habit of spitting in the street or, just as bad, blowing your nose straight onto the street.

The middle ground, emptying your schnoz into something disposable like a tissue, seems wasteful, and we should be eternally grateful that Indians and Chinese generally don’t use them, or toilet paper, or the planet would be tree-less within three weeks.

This may seem like a disgusting start to a wine column, and it is, so I will stop there.

But the nasal nuance issue arose recently when I found myself olfactorily challenged after tasting a few wines and I am indebted to my dog, Gruntley, for pointing out a valuable lesson with regard to this serious workplace issue.

You can imagine the proboscis problems facing wine judges at shows and serious tastings etc, so how do they approach it?

Mostly they just have water and a rest, but Barossan wine hero, Peter Lehmann, apparently used to pop outside for a smoke between tastings.

In days of old, cheese, despite its flavour dulling properties, has been a staple of wine accompaniment, with the same supposed purpose.

Fancy dips have taken over cheese’s role, while people such as The Big Ant would merely say if your sense of smell is slipping, have a beer.

But Gruntley has shown me a new way.

Dogs sniff everything, yet don’t seem to suffer fatigue. However, every now and then they do give a little snort somewhere between breathing and sneezing.

Blow me down, it works. Your hooter is revitalised, and if you haven’t got a cold, is harmless and almost socially acceptable.

Try it out on these:

Grant Burge Zerk Semillon 2004, $17. Knew a girl called Zerk once, who rightfully kept her name when she got married. Thus she couldn’t be accused of a nee-Zerk reaction. Wonder if she’d like this? 8.3/10.

Rymill Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, $28. What an inspired decision to pick lamb back straps for the barbie at Bangers when we just happened to have this lovely lamb friendly wine on hand. Very Coonawarra, very ‘noice’. 8.9/10.

Green Point Yarra Valley Reserve Shiraz, 2003, $47. He who imbibes just one drop will immediately vote Green and sympathise with their plight, hopefully. If not, it tastes bloody flash anyway. 9.2/10.

Neagles Rock Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004, $22. Amazingly the groovy artwork on the label didn’t attract comment from the assembled arty types. The wine did. 8/10.

Tollana Bin TR16 Shiraz 2004, $20. Old faithful. The first vintage I reviewed was 1991 when it was called Hermitage. Still great stuff even at the tough end of a barbecue. 8.5/10.

Miceli Mornington Iolanda Mornington Peninsula Pinot Grigio, 2004, $20ish? Don’t you hate it when the meat arrives before you get into the white properly? The first glass made me wish I’d ordered fish. 8.2/10.

Wines reviewed:
Miceli Mornington Iolanda Mornington Peninsula Pinot Grigio
Tollana Bin TR16 Shiraz 2004
Neagles Rock Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004
Green Point Yarra Valley Reserve Shiraz, 2003
Rymill Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
Grant Burge Zerk Semillon 2004

© Max Crus

Column on the tactics used to improve olfactory sense when tasting wine published week beginning May 28th 2006.

Published in Cairns Post/Rockhampton Morning Bulletin/Northern Star Lismore)/Daily Examiner (Grafton)/Wagga Daily Advertiser/Geelong Advertiser.

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