With just less than three months to go before I make my second attempt at the Master of Wine exams, I am focusing on my technical tasting. This is at the suggestion of Natasha Hughes MW, who has been tutoring me on and off for two years.
The goal of all of this is to conquer one of my biggest fears. That fear is of anything brown and sweet. Brown, sweet wines are my nemesis. Sweet sherries, Madeira, Tawny Port, Rutherglen Muscat – the list goes on (and on). During several mock exams (and one real one), I have come dangerously close to panic when faced with such a line up.
The problem is that the more you think you can’t do something, the less you are actually able to do it. The mental block I have around these wines is now worse than any actual tasting problem I may have. So, it’s time for some exposure therapy. I now live in a house full of Sherry. Madeira is everywhere.
I am also working on my technical tasting. Being able to accurately assess the alcohol percentage and level of sugar in these wines can bring you very close to identifying them. In practice, this means lining up four glasses, one dry, one with 50g/l sugar, another 100g/l sugar, and another with 150g/l. Or, in increments of 2% abv. Diligent and thoughtful tasting will help me to create a sensory memory for these wines and hopefully to overcome my fears. At least, that’s the idea!