Wine festivals are quite nice. They allow you to pretend that you are engaged in a very sophisticated activity (i.e. tasting wine) when in reality, all you are doing is getting drunk.
Society doesn't like drunkenness nowadays. Get drunk at a party and you are a boozer. Get drunk in a bar and you are a loser. Get drunk at home and you are a degenerate anti-social boozer. But the Annual Nairobi Wine Festival are the exception. Get drunk at the Annual Nairobi Wine Festival and you are trendy, stylish and classy.
It’s pretty easy to get drunk in a situation where you could theoretically taste more than 80 wines (though I’m not sure if anyone would actually have time for that, since there’s some chatter involved - my target is to sip about 40 in 4 hours).
The quality of wine is important only to the kind of irritating people who spit their wine out after tasting it, and these are not people you would have in your home, especially if you’ve got a new white shirt or new carpets.
The first glass of the day should be carefully chosen and politely requested. “I’d like to try a little of your Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 if I may.” Start your tasting modestly. Assess colour, aroma, body and legs. Swirl the wine around the glass, examine, and delicately inhale before sampling. Purse your lips, furrow your brows. Note subtle details in flavour and discuss quietly. Drop words like 'palette', 'aftertaste', and 'hints of blackberry' into the conversation. Comments such as “I prefer the 2006 Merlot”, “It’s a little harsh on the throat”, and “Oh, it’s very smooth” may also be of help.
The second glass follows. And then the third, the fourth and the fifth.
Soon the wine is requested more efficiently: “A glass of your Sauvignon Blanc please mate.”
Lips are no longer pursed, brows remain unfurrowed. The swirling and inhaling is merged into a single routine inspection. Comments become briefer and louder; “Yeah, it’s not bad” and “This is all right” and “Let’s have another one of these”.
More glasses are sampled. More vineyards are visited. Swirling and inhaling is replaced by gulping. Comments are now very short, to the point, sometimes shouted: “Good” and “Bloody good” and “Jeezes, really bloody good”.
I think you are getting my point and you can see where this may be going... Some final tips:
- Eat a meal beforehand. You’ll stay sober longer. You may want to follow your festival experience with a another meal afterwards.
- Consider a designated driver, a taxi, or even a hotel room (rooms at the Holiday Inn are quite nice by the way). This may be the opportunity for a romantic evening if you missed out on Valentines.
- Dress comfortably. There is no need for high heels, ladies. You can look cute and trendy and leave the stilettos at home, you will be walking a bit and standing a lot. Wear dark colors. Even if you manage to avoid spilling red wine on yourself, someone else might spill some on you.
- Get there early. People start filtering in late and things get crowded. Enjoy being early.