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Saturday, January 24, 2004
Back to wine tasting

Last year, my palate seemed rather jaded and I felt able to report very little of what I had tasted - it’s so easy to make misjudgements if one’s palate is out of sorts (see 30 December 2002). This year, I seem to be in better fettle. However, I’ve tasted some pretty awful stuff. That’s before I started on the wine.

In the Grampians region of Victoria, I stayed at a Nhill (sic) motel where there was a sign from the local water authority warning that all tap water should be boiled for one minute before drinking it. I used it only for making tea but the tea tasted awful. Not having come across the particular brand of teabag before, I ascribed the ghastly taste to the tea.

Several days later, I came across the brand again so I have to infer that it was the water that was at fault. There is something seriously wrong if boiled water tastes this bad, rather than simply bland.

A week or two later, I stayed in Armidale, a pleasant town in the far north of New South Wales. The water there, although there was no health hazard, tasted earthy: it was as though the stuff had been filtered through woodland earth. Apparently, the water level in the reservoir had fallen so low that minute soil particles had been stirred up. Tea, too, wasn’t very nice but it was greatly preferable to that in Nhill.

Then there was the problem with a bottle of wine. At one winery, I decided to take a good bottle away with me to have with my supper. Not having a corkscrew, I asked them to pull the cork and replace it loosely. This also gave me the opportunity to taste it in case there was something wrong with that particular bottle. And, do you know, there was: the wine tasted and ponged of cork. Of course, the bottle was replaced without demur. Corked (bouchonée) wine is a problem that winemakers have constantly to guard against; cheap corks increase the risk but the growing use of steel screw-tops eliminates the problem. It does, however, introduce others of which more, maybe, anon. Another solution is to use plastic corks.

I hope to post some more details of my wine-tasting before long but there is so much more on which to comment that perhaps it’ll be squeezed out.

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