Saturday, 7 April 2012

(Day 30) The Wrath of Grapes

Saturday 31st March (Day 30)

Today is the day I have been looking forward to all week; the day of the wine tasting event!  One of my housemates called Troy (a New Zealander) works in a wine shop and got us tickets to today’s wine tasting event.  We also have a night out planned later tonight for Lisa’s Birthday and I think going on a night out after going to a wine tasting event should be in interesting and potentially disastrous combination.

Harbour Bridge from the window of a train.

The wine tasting was in Circular Quay at the northern most point of the city right between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera house.  The journey was walkable but we took a train so we had more time to consume wine.  The weather today was glorious; it was just another perfect day in Sydney.
Approaching Harbour Bridge.

On the way to the wine tasting we had to walk underneath the Harbour Bridge.  This is the first time I had been close (or under) the Harbour Bridge and it is huge!  From a distance it just looks like an iron coathanger in the city skyline but from close it is a masterpiece of engineering.  You just don’t get buildings like this anymore.  Nobody has the balls or the money to undertake such engineering projects like this anymore (unless you live in Dubai).

It is just massive.
We arrived at the function hall where the wine tasting was being held.  At the start of the wine tasting corridor was a large table filled with rows upon rows of bottles of mineral water.  Providing this much free water in a room with this much alcohol is a good idea.  We were also each given a goodie bag which also contained a bottle of water amongst a few booklets and other wine tasting related literature.

The entrance.

The wine tasting hall.

In the hall there were at least 50 booths.  Each booth had a table with various bottles of wine on display and a few people stood behind the table representing the winery (wine people).  Their job was to smile, pour the wine and tell you about the winery they were representing.  There were probably more bottles of wine in this room than in Nicolas Sarkozy’s basement.
We started off on the first table where we tried some wine from a winery that was proud of the fact that it was one of the only carbon neutral wineries in the world.  That is great and all but I never really associated wine making as a major source of carbon dioxide.  It is like going to a dentist and being told that the dentist surgery is carbon neutral, it is nice but a in the grand scheme of things completely pointless.

After we finished at the carbon neutral table I moved onto the second table.  It wasn’t long until I noticed that my housemates were gone and had wondered off, probably straight to the champagne tables rather than doing each table one by one like I was trying to do.  To be honest doing every table was an insane goal and I would probably collapse before even making it around half the room.

Every table I visited left me feeling more and more drunk.  I was trying to have intelligent conversations with the wine people because I felt like it was polite to take an interest in there wine that I was drinking for free but this was becoming increasingly difficult, especially when they started getting technical and started throwing French words at me. 

To me there are 2 types of wine, red and white.  You can also mix red and white wine together to make something called Rosé as well.  But the wine people disagreed with me, apparently there are lots of different types of wine and they all have these complicated French names.  I did French for 5 years at school and I remember nothing.  French is a lost cause for me and if sober Mike couldn’t remember French there was no way drunk Mike was going to pick it up.  In the end I just resorted to agreeing with and saying “yep” or “that’s grand” to everything the wine people said, even before they had finished saying it.

I tried various different types of wine from various countries across the globe and they all tasted quite different.  One thing I did learn was that a more expensive wine doesn’t necessarily taste better than a cheaper wine.  It was almost embarrassing when I was trying out a range of wines from one table starting off with the cheapest and working my way up until the end when they bring out the expensive bottle and make a big deal out of it saying “ah, this is the stuff”, then I drink it and have to try and hide my face of disgust.  “What is this shit?”

One bottle of $100 wine was truly horrific; I honestly think I could make a better bottle of wine in the bathtub at home.  And the wine people were watching me so keenly!  This was there most expensive bottle, their best wine, their pièce de résistance (some French for you there).  I didn’t want to upset them, they probably worked there arses off making this stuff (well not them, but the underpaid labourers they have in working the fields).  “Yes, it is very lovely” I said whilst trying to hold back my gag reflex.

I think the thing I liked best about the wine tasting was the atmosphere.  When I go on a night out I usually end up in some dingy basement full of drunken people and oppressively loud music.

But here everyone was drunk but the room was large and clean.  The air conditioning meant that although it was hot sunshine outside inside was pleasantly cool, like being in the shade.
There was a balcony overlooking the busy but relaxed harbour of Sydney.  Across the water was the iconic Sydney Opera house and on the other side was the iconic Harbour Bridge.  Various sized boats calmly drove past the balcony.  Everything is more relaxed when you add water.  This place was just perfect. 

The Opera House in the distance.
The Opera House from the balcony.
Life is move relaxed when it is on water.
Everyone here was in such a good mood as well.  And they were people of all ages, young people, drop dead beautiful women in long flowing dresses, posh older couples and just a variety of nice people.  People I loved being in company with but people sadly you would never see on a night out, not in the places I go to anyway.

I felt like my somewhat posh sounding British accent help me fit in to this event, and to be honest I was trying to emphasis the posh.  Saying words like “wonderful” and “splendid”.  I just wish I knew French and actually knew a thing or 2 about wine, then I could really play the posh English card.

Is this how the French drink wine?
(But look, even the guy in the background between the 2 heads is smiling).

After about 5 o’clock we staggered out of the event hall.  I haven’t been in such a jolly mood in a long time.  To me everything was perfect.  Yes I was drunk but I was in Sydney which was perfect, the weather was perfect, the company was perfect (my Canadian, French, Dutch, Kiwi housemates) and my mood, it was perfect.

Some guy was so drunk outside he couldn't even stand.

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