Sunday, 18 November 2012

Product review : Wine tasting at Majestic Wine

Wine tasting at Majestic Wine 


Date of visit: 14 November 2012

Some would say that there is something slightly eccentric about wine tasting - all that sniffing and slurping, let alone spitting (not by me I must add, there is no way I waste any wine)!  However the truth is that wine tasting is great fun and everyone can do it.  The key is to let your mind wander.  Provided you follow the basic steps you can't go wrong - after all the answer is sitting in the glass.  

David and I were invited to a wine tasting at Majestic Wine in Stevenage on Wednesday evening.  We had recently discovered them when we were shopping for school stationary for Danielle at Staples across the road.  We happened to look across the road and just had to investigative.  Being a wine mad couple we were in wine heaven and best of all discovered South African wines that we had not seen since leaving SA.  We had no problem purchasing the required six bottles, it consisted of wines that had good memories for us.  We had spent our honeymoon nearly nineteen years ago touring the wine farms around Cape Town and one of the most memorable farms was Groot Constantia and yes we bought some of this wonderful wine.

We were greeted at the door on Wednesday evening by friendly staff and given a list of the wines that we would be tasting that evening, and shown where everything was as well as the snacks that had provided for their guests.  The first wine that we tasted was a lovely sparkling wine from Austria, Codorniu Reina Christina, Blanc de Noirs 2008.  Truly one of the nicest sparkling wines I have ever had.  The grape is Pinot Noir.  This Cave Brut was launched in honour of the Regent Queen Maria Cristina of Austria who in 1897 granted Codorniu with the title of "Official Provider of the Royal House".  With fine bubbles and persistent beading, this deliciously dry Cave has fresh, light, floral aromas with delcately rounded, well-balanced pear and brioche flavours.  It is currently on special offer for £9.99

The one wine that truly stood out for both David and myself was McGuigan The Semillon Blanc 2011 from Australia.  The grape is Semillon.  Neil McGuigan and his multi-award-winning winery have taken this white Bordeaux grape, already established as a classic varietal in certain parts of Australia, and used it to create a lighter, fresher, alternative to Aussie white.  It is also currently on special for £5.99.

Another wine that stood out for us was Luis Felipe Edwards Selection Especial Malbec 2011, Cochagua Valley, 14% at just £5.99, this one of the nicest reds I have had in a long time.  Although Argentina claims much of the Malbec related limelight, neighbouring Chile’s unique climate and terrain allows it to grow great Malbec of its own.  Persistent sea breezes moderate temperatures, meaning Chile is less reliant on altitude for cool growing conditions.  This wine has an intense violet colour with a nose of blackberries, plums and blueberries, accompanied by a subtle touch of vanilla.  Juicy and smooth, the palate is satisfyingly weight and long.

Here are a list of the other wines that we tasted:

The last two wines that we tasted were the worst and yet they were the most expensive.  The whole group that we were with agreed and a couple of them had to spit them out.  They were Château Musar, 2004/5, Lebanon 14% at £17.99 and Hochar Pere et Fils, 2007 Lebanon 14% at £10.49.  I would rather go thirsty the drink these two wines.

Here is a simple breakdown on how to taste wine 


No great rocket science here.  All wine should be clear and bright.  Note the colour - white wines get richer and more golden with age whereas reds mature from purple in their youth to ruby red and then develop "brick red" tones as they age further.

Swirl and Sniff

Plunge your nose in and take a good sniff.  What does it remind you of?  A particular fruit?  Wet stones?  Cinnamon or other spices?  Each wine has its own special bouquet.  A musty 'wet cardboard' smell is characteristic of a corked wine.  Add a few terms to your 'dictionary of smells' each time you taste and soon you will be able to swirl and sniff with the best of them.


Next - the eccentric bit - take a sip and draw some air into your mouth through slightly closed lips (try and make a slurping noise, that is if you don't mind sounding like an idiot), then roll around your mouth.  Your taste buds will burst into action and detect:

  • sweetness on the tip of the tongue
  • acidity on the sides of the tongue - that mouth watering effect
  • tannin on the gums - the drying sensation with red wines
  • body - texture and concentration of flavours
  • flavour characteristics - this can give an indication of grape variety
Finally, the length - how long do the flavours linger in the mouth?  Good length is an indication of quality.

Overall Experience

We had a brilliant night out and would recommend that you get yourself onto their mailing list.  They also offer a FREE 90 minute Wine Course, these free evening sessions are an introduction to wine - from grape to glass.

Fairlands View, Stevenage, SG1 1FZ

Tel: 01438 367896


  1. Sounds like an evening we would enjoy too, will have to get on their mailing list.

    1. If you are who I think you are, I have just filled in their recommend a friend card with your details

  2. i'm vote McManis Viognier 2011, Calfornia


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