Educated Tastes: Food, Drink, and Connoisseur Culture

By Jeremy Strong | Go to book overview

Chapter Five
Teaching Wine Tasting

JOHN DUCKER

Much of my professional time these days is spent teaching others about wine and its pleasures. I am careful always to put this civilizing drink in the context of food, where I believe it belongs. I was first introduced to the pleasures of wine drinking in the 1960s, when no one in Britain could have anticipated the welter of bright New World flavors now crowding our supermarket shelves. Today at least 50 percent of the UK off-license wine market is from the “New World,” which is providing an ongoing wake-up call in various “Old World” wine areas, particularly France. The 1960s and ’70s were the heady days of “Cape Brandy,” “British Wine,” sweet Cyprus “Sherry,” and the more affordable so-called London-bottled clarets, which although accurately bearing the name of their Bordeaux provenance were shipped to Britain in cask and bottled in unromantic-sounding places west of London like Basingstoke. My own earliest wine memories, apart from the surreptitious sips of El Rei Madeira I stole as a child from my father’s wine cabinet— and which I found quite shockingly strong—were of the semisweet Liebfraumilch variety. One could safely pour out a glass of this silvery, totally anonymous “off-dry” libation when taking one’s girlfriend out to dinner—and the chances were that neither she

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