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Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Wine tasting

For the last few days, I have had a cold. It wasn't serious but it stopped me from covering any serious distances. I have been staying in the Clare Valley, arguably the most picturesque of Australia's wine regions. It is very English/Welsh in appearance and, to complete the illusion, it has been absolutely pissing down with rain. I have been trying to do some wine tasting but the after effects of my cold have affected my judgements so I won't be publishing any of my comments until my palate is 'back to normal'.

This gives me the opportunity to write about when not to taste wine. The wine books aren't very helpful on this, so I thought I would bore you with two experiences, both from my time touring in Australia.

One very hot day, I arrived at a well-known winery in the Barossa Valley, one of the areas I have researched quite well. I started tasting, as is normal, with the drier whites. I should have realised that something was wrong when I found the first two wines quite bitter. My notes are pretty rude about the wines that followed, too. It wasn't until I got back to the car that I discovered the problem.

It is normal to drink large quantities of water while travelling round in the heat but, on that particular day, I had bought a large bottle of grape juice and I had been drinking that in copious quantities. Of course, the sweetness of the juice affected my palate: everything would, of course, taste (comparatively) bitter. So rule number one is do not taste wine when you have drunk or eaten anything sweet in the several hours before you start tasting. Personally, I do not taste any sweet wines unless they are the last slurps of the day.

As to the promised further story about wine tasting, it will have to wait. The sun is out and I want to get out to enjoy it. It is the last day of 2002 and I think I deserve/need some sunshine, don't you?

A Happy New Year, peeps.

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