Sunday, March 12, 2017


In "Taste" the most brilliant and wonderful short story by Roald Dahl, a man tries to identify a wine in a blind tasting. The following extract describes the logic of his thinking. But please read the whole story to get the full taste - you are in for a real treat!

'First, then, which district in Bordeaux does this wine come from? That's not too difficult to guess. It is far too light in the body to be from either St Emilion or Graves. It is obviously a Médoc. There's no doubt about that. 'Now - from which commune in Médoc does it come? That also, by elimination, should not be too difficult to decide. Margaux? No. It cannot be Margaux. It has not the violent bouquet of a Margaux. Pauillac? It cannot be Pauillac, either. It is too tender, too gentle and wistful for Pauillac. The wine of Pauillac has a character that is almost imperious in its taste, And also, to me, a Pauillac contains just a little pith, a curious dusty, pithy flavour that the grape acquires from the soil of the district. No, no. This - this is a very gentle wine, demure and bashful in the first taste, emerging shyly but quite graciously in the second. A little arch, perhaps, in the second taste, and a little naughty also, teasing the tongue with a trace, just a trace of tannin. Then, in the after-taste, delightful consoling and feminine, with a certain blithely generous quality that one associates only with the wines of the commune of St Julien. Unmistakably this is a St Julien.' ……... 'Ah, yes. This wine is from Bordeaux, from the commune of St Julien, in the district of Médoc. So far, so good. But now we come to the more difficult part - the name of the vineyard itself. For in St Julien there are many vineyards, and as our host so rightly remarked earlier on, there is often not much difference between the wine of one and the wine of another. ….. This wine is obviously not from a first growth vineyard - nor even a second. It is not a great wine! The quality, the- the - what do you call it? - the radiance, the power, is lacking. But a third growth - that it could be; And yet I doubt it. We know it is a good year - our host has said so - and this is probably flattering it a little bit. I must be careful. I must be very careful here.' He picked up his glass and took another small sip. 'Yes,' he said, sucking his lips, 'I was right. It is a fourth growth. Now I am sure of it. A fourth growth from a very good year - from a great year, in fact. And that's what made it taste for a moment like a third - or even a second growth wine. Good! That's better! Now we are closing in! What are the fourth-growth vineyards in the commune of St Julien?' …. 'There it is again! ' he cried. 'Tannin in the middle taste, and the quick astringent squeeze upon the tongue. Yes, yes, of course! Now I have it! The wine comes from one of those small vineyards around Beychevelle. I remember now. The Beychevelle district, and the river and the little harbour that has silted up so the wine ships can no longer use it. Beychevelle . . . . could it actually be a Beychevelle itself? No, I don't think so. Not quite. But it is somewhere very close. Château Talbot? Could it be Talbot? Yes, it could. Wait one moment.' …. 'No. I was wrong. It is not a Talbot. A Talbot comes forward to you just a little quicker than this one; the fruit is nearer the surface. So it is a '34, which I believe it is, then it couldn't be Talbot. We, we. Let me think. It is not a Beychevelle and it is not a Talbot, and yet - yet it is so close to both of them, so close, that the vineyard must be almost in between. Now, which could that be?' …... 'Ah!' he cried. 'I have it! Yes, I think I have it!' …. 'You know what this is? This is the little Château Branaire-Ducru,' 

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