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OffbeatThe man who gets through 200 glasses of wine a day

14:17  03 may  2019
14:17  03 may  2019 Source:   inews.co.uk

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The man who gets through 200 glasses of wine a day© Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

It’s not long after lunch and the room is busy, filled with people sitting at tables laden with glasses of wine. But there’s no bawdy chat, no laughter or clinking of glasses – almost everyone is silent, tapping away at their tablets after every swig.

These people aren’t here for a cheeky afternoon tipple. They are among the most distinguished wine experts in the world and they are judging the best of the best in their specific region of expertise.

Most wine drinkers will be familiar with the shiny gold, silver or bronze labels that are sprinkled throughout a selection of bottles in the supermarket or wine shop. They may even seek them out, safe in the knowledge that it signifies a decent wine. But how is it decided?

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After one glass of wine I’m starting to think about things like “ who put the alphabet in alphabetical Also, some alcoholics, after passing through a stage where they can seemingly “hold their liquor” After three glasses of wine , I’m browsing online to order a horse because I always enjoyed riding and

or check out the 200 most active subreddits, categorized by content and the full If you go through the system for 4 felonies and still end up committing a crime after release, no matter how The technical definition of alcoholics includes everyone from people who have two glasses of wine every night to

The man who gets through 200 glasses of wine a day© Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Where the magic happens

The man who gets through 200 glasses of wine a day© Getty I had imagined the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) judging process would resemble either a hangar-like space brimming with bottles, or a gorgeous oak-panelled room thick with cigar smoke where experts are swilling, swirling and loudly extolling the virtues of bouquets and minerality and the like.

The reality is perhaps somewhere in between: at London’s ExCel centre, meeting room after meeting room is filled with white-clothed tables representing different regions of the world, where the 270 regional experts are quietly blind tasting.

There are no silver spittoons, just red “beer pong” cups. Heavy perfumes are verboten, as is, of course, cigar smoke.

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There's a science to judging wine, but it's also an art

The man who gets through 200 glasses of wine a day© Getty Wine tasting event. White, rose and red wines in glasses on outdoor patio table. Various wine bottles in background including white, red, and rose selections. Rustic wooden table with vineyard grounds in background. No people. The judges will then debate their ratings among themselves, often calling on one of the co-chairs to settle any discrepancies.

And there are plenty of arguments, one would imagine. As the wines are rated out of 100, for criteria including palate, colour, clarity, condition, and aroma, there’s often not much in it between, say, a gold medal (95 to 96) points, or silver (90 to 94 points).

The judges are also looking for that slightly less scientific, intangible quality in a really special wine, “the almost Zen-like, holistic quality – like trying to put a score on a piece of music”, says Michael Hill Smith, co-chairman of the DWWA.

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The gold-rated wines go on to the next round the following week to compete for platinum rating and the coveted “Best in Show” slots. About 50 wines out of the 16,903 submitted from 61 countries will achieve that accolade.

Last year's best supermarket wines

At the 2018 awards, many supermarket wines won praise – these were among the best:

Morrisons Ruby Port, Douro Valley, Portugal, £7 (Platinum)

The Party Malbec, Uco Valley, Mendoza, 2017, £14, Marks & Spencer (Gold)

Workshop Wine Co, Mastercraft Sauvignon Blanc, Wairau Valley, 2017, £10, Morrisons (Platinum)

Viñalba, Reservado De La Familia Malbec, Uco Valley, 2017, £10, Morrisons (Gold)

Stellenrust, Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, 2017, £8.50, Sainsbury’s (Gold)

Grüner Veltliner, Niederösterreich, Austria, 2017, £7.99, Waitrose (Gold)

Bodega Santa Julia, Reserve Malbec-Cabernet Franc, Uco, £10, Sainsbury’s (Gold)

Stellenrust, Stellenbosch Manor Cinsault, 2017, £7.49, Waitrose (Gold)

“I think there’s this thought that you just kind of wander in and it’s like some big party and you’re just having a couple of glasses of wine and you know, a bit of a chat,” says Hill Smith.

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I got to know the winegrower there personally. That's the way to know what you're drinking." De Gruse leaned forwards, took another sip of wine , and dabbed his lips with the corner of his napkin. Then, one day , a telegram came from France. Pierre's parents and his only brother had been killed in

“You’d be surprised at how professional it actually is. We’re trying to make something which is fairly subjective as objective as we possibly can. We’re trying to find the gems in the gravel.”

Hill Smith is a wine producer and consultant who became Australia’s first Master of Wine in 1988. He is part of the international tasting panel that selects Singapore Airlines’ wines, and is a passionate advocate for Australian fine wine.

He has been part of the DWWA judging process since 2004, when the awards first began.

Tasting a bit of everything

The man who gets through 200 glasses of wine a day© Getty “It’s fun for me because I get to taste a bit of everything,” says Hill Smith. “And the debating is the really fun part of the whole process.” When he says a bit of everything, he means it – he could be tasting 200 different wines a day – or a couple of thousand by the time his fortnight is up.

Tens of thousands of wines later, it doesn’t seem like anything could surprise a Master of Wine, but the judging process always throws in a few pleasant curveballs. “Greek wine is exciting,” Hill Smith says. “I like the idea that it’s so important historically: a lot of the grapes that went to Italy came from Greece.

And then a lot of French grapes came from Italy. If you go somewhere like Santorini, for example, where you’ve got this extraordinary deep volcanic soil, they’ve been growing grapes there for millennia. There’s something very cool about that.”

China is another region that is piquing the interest of wine experts. “China is now one of the most important commercial places to sell wine. It’s also very important in terms of wine production. Over the past four or five years to watch the improving quality of somewhere like China is just fascinating.”

How to have a go yourself

And what about the average person who wants to learn how to taste wine? “First of all, slow down enough to actually look at it. Observe. Smell it. Taste it. Is it sweet? Is it dry? Is the flavour short, medium, or long? What’s the aftertaste? What’s that flavour?”

After a fortnight of tasting, he must never want to see a glass of wine again, I suggest. “People normally have a cleansing ale after they’ve finished,” Hill Smith says, laughing. “But I would never get tired of really great wine.”


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