A non-drinker walks into a winery tasting … It sounds like a bad version of the ‘a man walked into a bar’ gag but it’s not a joke.
I was given a winery tour and tasting experience as a Christmas present in 2019 and, before I could book into the experience, COVID-19 hit and events like this were postponed.
Between Christmas 2019 and now, I have chosen to go alcohol free, partly because the pandemic led me to drink more and really shone a light on how I was using alcohol in an unhealthy way.
So almost nine months into being alcohol free my partner and I joined my brother and his wife, who had given me the present, at a nearby winery for a tour, tasting and lunch experience.
I had mixed feelings about it. It was a great opportunity to spend time with my brother and his wife, have a lovely lunch and be in the beautiful natural environment.
The only thing that raised concerns for me was the wine tasting portion of the day.
Surely that would be like a person who is on a diet going to a chocolate tasting event or a celiac doing a bread-making course.
However, instead of discretely slipping away for that part, I decided to stay and to view it as an interesting experiment. It was almost like I was an anthropologist studying the behaviour of wine connoisseurs.
The tasting involved six wines with the attributes of each one described using phrases such as ‘hint of berries’ and ‘fragrance of petrichor’ (rain-dampened earth for those, like me, who are not familiar with the vernacular).
Then there were the descriptions that made us question whether they were doing a parody of pretentious wine culture or were simply being pretentious.
One of the wines – an organic wine no less – was described as ‘a peacock’s fantail of cranberry’ and ‘seducing the endorphins of the mind’. I don’t even know what that means!
And don’t get me started on the organic aspect.
The winery we visited had just released a range of organic, vegan wines presumably for the health conscious. The irony was not lost on me although I’m sure my scepticism and incredulity were not shared by the others in the room or those who are buying these ‘healthy’ wines by the case.
I found the whole thing quite entertaining and informative and was more than happy to offload my samples to the others in my group while I stuck with the water.
It actually was a great day – the lunch was fantastic, the winery setting was beautiful and it was great to spend quality time with my brother, his wife and my partner.
Despite my apprehension about how odd it would be for a non-drinker to go on a winery tour, I had a great time.
And the best bit – I woke up fresh and clear headed the next morning.
I’ll raise a glass (of sparkling water) to that.