Friday, 28 September 2012

No Nose

The tasting notes for my splendidly named Turkey Flat Butcher’s Block Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2010 told me to expect hints of five spice, plum, cherry and blackcurrant, with smoky, meaty undertones.  As it happened, I had several of these ingredients in the house – plums, meat, smoke and five spice –  so I had a sniff.  I can’t swear to any of them, but I do now know that my little jar of Chinese five spice powder smells of sawdust.

Tonight’s Rioja Reserva Dos Maderas 2006 exhorts me to detect cinnamon, clove and toasted bread.  My jars of the first two do have a bit more nose to them than the five spice, because I use them more often, so they’ll be slightly fresher; I don’t have any toast to hand, I’m afraid.

I see I also have, amongst others, allspice, caraway, fennel, kaffir lime, saffron, fenugreek, juniper, asafoetida, two sorts of pimento, three sorts of peppercorns and, um, curry powder in my spice drawer.  Not having the corresponding wines in the rack, I can’t test these, but I don’t mind betting there’ll be a fair proportion of sawdust amongst them.  The asafoetida must go back a decade.

Talk about the mustard left on the plate!  Colman’s have nothing on these spice merchants, do they?  Still, they’ll probably be good enough for wine-making, if I ever take it up again.


  1. If you're going to have a whole drawer devoted to spice then you have to fill it with something.

  2. I'm sure the wine people are just trying to think of ever more pretentious descriptions for their products. After all, if it's blackberries you're after, you can go out and pick some. I like wine to taste of

  3. Mmm, I know, Zig, the system is deeply flawed, because once the spice goes in there it often never comes out again. But what can you do? Buy a new tub of allspice and bin it once you've taken the pinch you need?

    Frances, I ask for the tasting notes at Majestic precisely to enjoy their flights of fancy. I don't think they take it that seriously either.

  4. I've always loved the idea of wine tasting of chocolate which is why I keep checking new ones which claim to do that. It's never happened though.
    I used to have a recipe which required asafoeteda but I've lost it. Ours must be years old too.