So, wine class is really hard. The memorization of facts is pretty easy, actually – all the history, characteristics of specific types of grapes, general vocabulary, etc. But the tasting part I can tell is going to take a lot of practice. I’m pretty good at the actual taste aspect of it: acidity, sweetness, alcohol level, body, finish. Less so on the fruit character, aroma, bouquet parts. So my teacher’s advice was to give yourself a lot of reference points. While it’s fairly easy to pin down, after a few tastings, things like red fruit, black fruit, berries, tropical fruit, tree fruit, I usually have trouble getting more specific, because when it comes right down it, I just can’t recognize “plum” or “passionfruit” in a purely aromatic sense. So the solution isn’t to drink more wine (although that’s never a bad idea, really), it’s to eat more plums and passionfruits.
So I’ve been doing that. My new default treat to grab myself when shopping is a little piece of fruit that I don’t normally eat, rather than a chocolate bar at the checkout. Red and black plums have been my main go-to, as I feel like I’m still struggling with gaining that instant-recognition familiarity with their flavours, and also because they’re juicy and nice to eat. Apricots are a good one too, as are berries, but they’re usually sold in clamshells so you can’t just grab one or two (free samples at the farmer’s market are awesome for that, though). Pictured above is the single lychee I purchased at Safeway today to remind myself what they tasted like (pretty distinctive and hard to forget, honestly). Next time I’m going to have to start moving on to tropical fruits, I think. It’s a fun little game, trying to taste all the produce at the store.
Another common flavour reference is sour and sweet cherries, so I bought some of one and grew some of the other:
The one on the left is a sweet BC cherry from the farmer’s market, and the one on the right is a sour cherry from my tree. I ate a great deal of both (just to be sure I got it, obviously) and I really like the sour cherry more. I tend to like very acidic things, though. I found the other cherries sort of bland in comparison. Not at all an unpleasant experiment, all around.
Here’s pretty much the entirety of my cherry crop this year. Allan and I made short work of it.