I have gone on the record saying that I don’t like tasting wine. I like drinking it, but tasting — the swirling, sniffing and, horror of horrors, the spitting out of a perfectly good beverage — is the worst way to enjoy wine. Sommeliers, wine writers, consultants, wine shop owners etc., have to taste wine. I think the rest of us should be spared the ordeal.
But I still get invited to wine tastings, and sometimes I go. If it’s a tasting of first-growth Bordeaux, say, or a vertical tasting of Dom Perignon rosé Champagnes, I go, and if it’s a tasting of wines about which I know nothing, I might go too.
So tonight I went to a tasting of Romanian wines. The hosts made a couple of references to vampires (Transylvania straddles Romania and Hungary) and to two of the country’s most famous athletes of the recent past, Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci, and tennis pro Ilie Nastasi, whose nastiness precursed by a generation John McEnroe’s temper tantrums. But for the most part they kept their comments brief, certainly more brief than at any Italian wine tasting I've ever been to.
Any speech at a walk-around wine tasting is too long, if you ask me. If someone wants to know something, he or she will ask; otherwise, the wines have to speak for themselves.
And these puppies spoke volumes. I was delighted at some of the indigenous grapes with fetching names like Feteasca Regala (royal maiden, or maybe princess), and various cousins of Muscat. I won’t go into detail about how they tasted, because that’s not my thing, but some had wonderful floral qualities at the front of the palate, and others had great acidic zing. There were also some really delicious Pinot Noirs and fine Sauvignon Blancs. And most of them wholesale for less than $4 per bottle.
Keep your eyes open for them.