Updated: Mar 18
('Essays From the Crypt' is an anthology of articles which, for one reason or another, never made it to print. Saved from the grave, they live once again!)
Essays From the Crypt: How to Bullshit Wine-Tasting
Wine-tasting is the purest form of bullshitting. The sort of people that take wine-tasting seriously are the same sort of people that fart under the covers, so none of it escapes and they can smell it in its purest form. ‘Ah yes,’ they say, ‘a ripe decant from three nights ago. I’m detecting hints of coconut. Tandoori oven. The subtleties of the okra meld beautifully with the stronger cumin and garam masala notes. Altogether, a wonderfully fragrant sample.’ Then they get out of bed and go about their day of talking to other fart-smellers about how many weeks of holiday they’ll get this year. Pity them, dear reader, for they know not what it means to truly drink.
For the rest of us, those who stop listening past the word ‘wine’, I’ve decided to help you out a bit. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but if you can get these points down, you’ll be a bullshit connoisseur after the first bottle. Even if you’re not, you’ll be a bottle of wine deep by then and won’t care much anyway.
Before you even get to the wine-tasting, you must be prepared for what’s to come. Dust off that perfume, iron out that shirt, and for god’s sake have some self-respect! When you arrive, smile for the people. Superficiality is the word of the day, and you don’t need to be anything else tonight. So, insert yourself into a conversation about diverse types of grapes and barrels, pass yourself off as a part-time scrabble-player, and get ready for the rest of the evening.
Presentation is a defining factor of wine-tasting. If the hand gripping the wine glass is muddy and covered in flies, people will wonder why a grave-robber’s drinking Château de Chasselas. A standard tuxedo should do the trick, but if you want to put in the extra effort, a carnation in the jacket pocket never fails to catch their eye. If you look the part, people won’t suspect you’d never considered tasting wine before drinking it before.
As with life, the confidence to bullshit is not innate, but tempered in the fires of experience. In wine-tasting, confidence takes the form of the first hand on a glass, and direct eye contact with the waiter. Stare him down. Make sure he knows you want that glass of wine. If he doesn’t break eye contact first, you’ve probably pulled, and can end the night there anyway. Congrats!
Wine-tasting is a performance, and you are a principal part. Faux pas are mistakes for the overzealous, but not for you. Cradle the glass with your thumb, index, and middle fingers. Bring your nose to the rim and explore the aroma. Take a small sip and swirl it around in your mouth. Use this time to think of bullshit to say when everyone gives feedback. A good ice-breaker is to say, ‘of all the wine I’ve tried, this is certainly one of them.’ Polite chuckles and golf claps should ensue, and you’ll be in their good books regardless of what you say next. Don’t make the mistake of playing ‘God Save the Queen’ with the spittoon.
Once the evening is over, assuming you’ve followed this advice, you should have succeeded in bullshitting your way through a wine-tasting. Feel free to celebrate by buying a box of it on the way home and getting smashed. Victory tastes better than wine any day.