Wine "qualifications" again…

I always knew the Cape Wine Master general knowledge exam was above my fire-making place when I saw the question “name five Cape Wine Masters.” Why must wine “qualifications” be so circular? Monday’s press release from the Calyon Trophy Bordeaux Blend Challenge lists one of the esteemed judges as a “distinction graduate of the Wine Tasting Academy” which sounds impressive, until you hear that the “show chairman” also runs the TA. This year’s TA has the added frisson of controversy, with at least one student passing then failing and one failure ending up with a pass, after initial results were recalled and then restated.

lt Wine "qualifications" again...

Unlucky participants can always enroll in a Course in Wine Evaluation offered by the University of Stellenbosch which kicks off on 28th March. This course is probably the more credible of the two, even if the TA does claim some loose affiliation with UCT. Would some UCT alumnus (or failing that, an unlucky student) be so kind as to ask the UCT Senate just what this connection is, as some faculties are notoriously prickly about misrepresentation.

In the meantime, some practice for would-be students of taste. Does the following tasting note:

“layers of cedar and raspberry strike a sharp upfront note, while clove and creamy notes add body while contributing an exotic, sumptuous character that conveys luxury in its essence. Might there also be a trace of rubber, though?”

apply to:
a) A cool-climate Shiraz b) a chocolate c) an olive oil d) a perfume

Or how about:

“aroma of under-ripe bananas, and the way the fruitiness opens up on my tongue with a flick of bitterness that quickly fades to reveal lush, grassy tones.”

does it apply to:
a) A warm-climate Pinotage b) a chocolate c) an olive oil d) a perfume

Or does:

“fruity (with a high-profile role for the deliciously garbagey, overripe smell of guava) plus floral (powdery rosy) plus green (neroli and oakmoss).”

apply to:
a) A Little Karroo Chenin Blanc b) a chocolate c) an olive oil d) a perfume

The answers are respectively (b), (c) and (d) and come from John Lanchester’s review of Luca Turin’s new book on smell Perfumes, the Guide (Viking).