Organic Wine Tasting – What could it be? 2015


Organic Wine Tasting

SATURDAY 12th December

7.30pm (till 10.30pm approx.)

£17 before Saturday 5th December

£20 thereafter

@The Greenhouse

42-46 Bethel Street

Norwich NR2 1NR


To form (an opinion, for example) before possessing full or adequate knowledge or experience.

The late W. G. Sebald once spoke in a lecture about experiencing paralysis and inertia in the yoghurt aisle of a supermarket. After all, there were so many brands and flavours to choose from, with a small price differential. How on earth was he to choose?

We are rarely short of things to buy (though sometimes short of funds to buy them with) – so how do we make consumer decisions? Well, we preconceive… we like this particular label, or this particular brand. We buy this wine because it’s from Spain, and I like Spanish wine; or this wine because it was on for half price, so it’s a bargain (or is it?); this one’s got a fun label, or this name is an arresting pun (Goats do Roam).

But it’s not just the casual wine customer who is prey to their preconceptions. An oenophile looking at an unfamiliar wine list will have to preconceive to make a choice. If they didn’t, after all, they would have to taste each wine before deciding which to order, and would possibly be asked to leave the restaurant.

And when the oenophile tastes the wine, they may well bring to bear not just the wine they are tasting, but all the previous wines of that variety or region to make an assessment – the question becomes not only “is this a good wine?” but “is this wine typical of wines of its style?” “It’s not the spiciest Shiraz” or “it’s tannic for a Tempranillo.”

But what if we were robbed of our preconceptions? What if all we knew was the colour of the liquid in the glass?

We’ve been running organic wine tastings for years at the Greenhouse, but we’ve never had a blind tasting before. Usually, we tell you the wine’s name, the producer, the grape variety, the alcohol by volume and the price of a bottle. Often that information frames our experience: we expect a certain quality for a certain price point (“this better be good for £20 a bottle”), or we usually like a certain grape variety. The idea of the blind tasting is to make sure that experience comes before judgement.

The aim isn’t really to identify the wine correctly (though it’s a great party trick!). The aim is to learn a little about how wines differ – in levels of sweetness, acid, alcohol and tannin; and in flavour. And then, how to tell them apart – and how to talk about your experience in a common language. Don’t feel you need to know these things before you arrive. It will be just as much fun for beginners as for experienced tasters.

There are no prizes for getting it right. And no recriminations for getting it wrong. Whoever you are, identifying a wine you’ve tasted blind comes down to making your best guess. Your host on the night has been doing a lot of blind tasting recently. He knew Cabernet Sauvignon from Syrah. And he argued, quite persuasively, that Chardonnay was Riesling.

If you’re new to Greenhouse wine tastings, they are informal, unpretentious and sociable occasions. We introduce each wine and taste them as a group, sharing opinions amongst general chatter, before voting for your favourites at the end of the night.

The taster measures are relatively generous, so we offer organic bread a plenty, and augment the flavours of the wine with a taster plate made from seasonal, organic produce, sourced from Folland Organics, on row A of Norwich market.

All we will reveal is that there will be two whites, three reds and a sweet wine. You’ll have to come along to find out more…

On the menu:

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Feedback from one of our recent organic wine tastings:

‘Friendly, relaxed, fun & informative’

‘Very good – interesting & unusual’

‘Nice balance of information, wine, food & chat’