Oenophile Alert!

May 19th, 2014Comments Off on Oenophile Alert!

A visitor strolling past the sedate exterior of the Stewartry Museum mid-evening on Friday 16th May might have been puzzled by the sounds of considerable merriment from within. Had the exhibits come to life in some sort of Disney-style fantasy?

The answer was in fact that this was the evening of a most successful wine-tasting event. The museum is presently hosting a Commonwealth Exhibition: linked of course to the fact of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July. The museum came up with the idea of a local evening event linked to the theme of the exhibition: a tasting of wines produced in countries of the Commonwealth.

Thus on the evening of 16th May some 35 of us took our places at bistro-style tables laid out within the museum, and prepared for an evening of stimulation – of mind and of palate.

We were not disappointed. The Museum team knew that the U3A has an established wine appreciation group, and approached us for help. A most interesting variety of Commonwealth wines was selected and sourced by Magnus Johnson, facilitator of the U3A group, and tasting notes and explanatory maps prepared. On arrival we tasted an English white wine, and were informed that no less than 9 Commonwealth countries (Scotland included!) are now wine producers. We progressed to presentations and tasting of excellent and interesting wines -white, red and rose – from the ‘obvious’ producer countries of the Commonwealth (Australia, New Zealand and South Africa); and between these we also tasted wines from India, an emerging producer. There were comforting – and frequently replenished supplies of breads and cheeses to absorb the wines and refresh our palates.

As the U3A expert, Magnus Johnson was to have been the presenter and mentor, but at short notice was unable to attend. No problem! With typical U3A resilience there stepped forward Marthie Clark, Don Cowell and John McQuistan – members of the wine appreciation group – who divided the producer-countries between them and each gave us most helpful and informative introductions both to the wine-producing histories of the countries and to the specific wines we were tasting. Their ability to cope admirably with the growing hubbub of an increasingly, congenial audience was remarkable. A most successful evening which reflected great credit on the skills of the U3A and museum teams: one feels that a future exhibition of links to any grouping of countries almost anywhere in the world could be the occasion of a future successful event. Ice wine from Antarctica anyone?

(In case you wondered – an Oenophile is a connoisseur or a lover of wines)

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