I don’t often talk about work on here, (unless it’s to commiserate about having once again found myself out of a job!) but I had a day last week which I found rather amusing, and thought would illustrate a bit of truth about working in the wine industry.
I should have know that this day would be unlike any other as it started with an hour of in-depth cigar training. Not something I ever thought my career would give me, and not something I have any experience off, except a brief visit to a cigar museum whilst in Cuba when I was actually counting down the minutes until we could start drinking rum in their bar, rather than paying attention to the different sizes, strengths and smoke lengths.
As we were packing up from this session a colleague rocked up proudly toting four bottles that he had enjoyed the previous evening. Very kindly he’d saved a small portion of each bottle for us to try and I was incredibly excited. Tasting wine never gets old for me, and working in an industry that is constantly changing and evolving you can never know everything. So it’s taste, taste, taste to learn, learn, learn. Your palate is a muscle and it needs practice to be at its best. Already I’m discovering that my palate is vastly improved from when I started out, but that it has a long way to go. Which is why I’ll never turn down the opportunity for a taste of something new. (Perhaps one day I’ll talk about the difference between tasting and drinking, there is a difference, honest!).
I sipped and sloshed, and spat my way through the four wines, desperately trying to commit them to my sense memory and fighting to pick out the nuances of each. It’s not everyday that you get to try such exclusive and expensive wines. It was a wonderful start to the day.
But it was all downhill from there!
It’s not all cigar training and tasting impressive wine. I continued my morning by washing up around 100 tasting glasses from the weekend. Whilst I rinsed and polished my way through a mountain of ISOs, another colleague unearthed a selection of samples that had been conveniently forgotten about.
These were the antithesis of our mornings offering. Foil-topped plastic glasses with detachable stems in “white” “rose” and “red”. Just peeling back the tops made us nervous despite the rep having assured us that they were “actually very good” (the “actually” says it all I think.) Duty bound we poured a small amount of the white into tasting glasses, and begin the swirl. We soon stopped as the smell wafted towards us. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a collection of wine professionals spit so quickly. Although the red did elicit the high praise of “well, that’s borderline below average” I can say with certainty that these particular wines won’t be on offer to our customers.
And so my glamourous wine life is revealed. Whilst those hundred pound bottles do appear from time to time, it’s mostly washing glasses, shifting boxes and tasting things that are “borderline below average.” When I got my new job I went out and bought three new dresses to bring some glitz to my everyday life. So far I’ve only worn one and I very nearly ruined it when a colleague smashed a bottle of rosé in my vicinity! The reality is that you need comfortable smart casual clothing, shoes that won’t hurt your feet after 12 hours of standing, and a sense of humour for when you’re shown the plastic glasses with foil lids!