Probus Enjoys Wine Tasting

“Different Worlds” was the subject of a wine tasting evening enjoyed by a full house of members, their wives /partners, family and friends held at Christ Church in Chineham.

Helen Malcolm, the Customer Tastings Manager of Laithwaite’s Wines, was the guest presenter. Full of enthusiasm for her subject she has worked for Laithwaite’s for four years since graduating in Hospitality Management from Portsmouth University. Part of her course involved taking the intermediate certificate of the Wine & Educational Trust and her employer has since put her through the advanced course.

She set about educating her audience, who probably had ample experience of wine drinking over the years, that the same grape demonstrates different characteristics when made into wine in either the old or new world. The old world rules and regulations held dear in France are not followed in the new world of Australia and New Zealand. The new world uses large stainless steel vats instead of the expensive small wooden barrels which the French producers consider gives an additional flavour. Not to be outdone the new world wineries today are adding oak chips into the stainless steel vats to see if they can match their European counterparts.

It was the new world that set the precedence for having descriptive labels on the reverse of bottles to aid the purchaser when making their selection. Interestingly this is now being followed in some, but not all instances, in the old world where they have recognised the necessity to help customers make the right choice.

But, of course, it was the actual tasting of the wines during the evening which demonstrated the differences that the presenter had been keen to impart. A Sancerre 2012 from France was compared to a Sauvignon Blanc 2013 from New Zealand. Made from the same grape the French wine did not identify the name to the uninitiated whereas the New Zealand wine made no apology for saying clearly that it was made from the Sauvignon grape. The red Australian Shiraz 2011 (the grape is known as Syrah in France) was then compared to the top Chateauneuf-du-Pape which retails at over twice the price of the Shiraz.

The presenter had previously advised what range of nibbles should accompany each wine to enhance the flavours, which had been made by wives and family of members. It all contributed to a very enjoyable experience.