Food & Drink
Eat out, drink up
Wine of the times
Bewildered by the selection in front of you every time you hit the offy?
Wise up at a wine tasting class. Words: Mark Fisher
f Rose Murray Brown were a wine. she'd be . . . oh. I words fail me . . . she‘d be. er. drinkable. And how words fail me. I'm sitting at a table with a group of wine novices and we’re passing round vials of clear liquid. Each one of them has a distinctive smell. ‘Put a
name to each.” is Rose Murray Brown's simple request. And though those odours are so familiar. triggering memories of . . . memories of what exactly? . . . to find a word to match is maddeningly hard.
And so the one I think is cherry is actually lemon. the one I think is lemon is grapefruit and the one I think is liquorice is pineapple. It‘s not an auspicious start to my first wine tasting class. ‘Taste is not as important as you might think.‘ says Murray Brown. one of only 240 Masters of Wine worldwide with the highest wine qualification and a columnist on The Scotsman. ‘Smell is the most important thing.‘
But Murray Brown is the not the sort to make you feel hung up about your malfunctioning senses. She’s an enthusiast. passionate about her wines and readily able to communicate that passion. Her class. the first in a series of four. is a lively celebration of Chardonnay. Words — those words that come so hesitantly to me — tumble forth as she encapsulates the experience of each new glass: buttery. caramel. nutty. ripe citrus . . .
And she’s right. There‘s nothing pretentious about her assessments. She’s no wine bore and there‘s nothing intimidating about her approach. On the contrary. she only makes you want to learn more. ‘This
1 12 7H5 LIST 26 Apr—9 May 2002
A selection of forthcoming events to consider.
I Raeburn Fine Wines The Vaults. 4 Giles Street. Leith, 15 May. 6.30pm. Dave Powell on the Barossa Valley's Torbreck cellars. £75 0737 554 2652. I Great Grog Three Sisters, 139 Cowgate, Edinburgh, Thu 2 May. 7pm; Cafe Mao. 84 Brunswick Street. Glasgow. 29 May. 7pm. 40 wines to sample. £5. 0737 6624777.
I Glasgow Wine and Dine Club May date tbc at Quigley's. Bath Street, Glasgow. David Morgan and David Smith take you to a new restaurant once a month. Small membership fee. 07360 770 253.
I Ubiquitous Chip Ashton Lane. Glasgow. 10 June. Wine dinner focusing on fine Italian wines. £34.50. 0747 334 5007 I www.wine-pages.com Tom Cannavan of Glasgow runs the best web site for wine in the UK. It highlights particularly attractive events open the public. as well as giving good buying tips. Cannavan himself hosts wine dinners at restaurants such as the Michelin-starred Braidwood‘s in North Ayrshire. (Barry Shelby)
is what I like.‘ she repeats. ‘But you might disagree.’
So we're sitting eventually with eight glasses in front of us and the idea is to compare and contrast. to check for colour. aroma. taste and aftertaste. to spot which is the £2.99 plonk and which is the £7 treat. It’s
an opportunity the regular drinker rarely has: by the time you reach bottle two at home. it's either the next day or you‘re too pissed to remember bottle one. And thanks to Murray Brown‘s directions. even an untrained palate can start distinguishing one from the other. Everyone — even me — spotted the £2.99 plonk.
But the class is much more than that. With slide projector and whiteboard. Murray Brown takes you on a world tour (each wine is from a different country). focusing on vineyards. soil types. sea breezes and grape varieties. She's effortlessly knowledgeable and full of anecdotes. like the geography teacher you always wanted. ‘The Shan Dong peninsula is the place to look out for in the future.’ she says when a picture of a Chinese vineyard pops up and it‘s hard not to run straight to the off licence.
Her next four-week tasting series is the advanced level. starting 12 June at the Point Conference Centre. Edinburgh (course £120: individual sessions £32). The emphasis will be on blind tasting. She'll be serving sauvignon and shiraz among others. with prices ranging as high as £65.
More information at www. rosemurraybrown.com or email masterclass© rosemurraybrown.com
An extra dollop of news. . .
I THE BUTTERY, THE Glasgow institution closed by corporate owners in January, has been bought by Ian Fleming. He, as well as head chef Willie Deans, comes to the Arger Street venture from Auchterarder House in Perthshire, which earned awards for fine dining under their watch. Fleming sounds assured that the Buttery can compete in Glasgow’s crowded market. ‘I am bringing together a small team of very creative people to rise to this challenge,’ he says. ‘As an antidote to modern, contemporary and minimalist brasseries, we will offer a classical dining experience in a modern context: fine dining and service without stuffiness and pretension, and at prices that will encourage a customer to become a friend.’
I TIJUANA YACHT CLUB IS now the name of Gringo Bill's Mexican restaurant on Hanover Street in Edinburgh. The place has had a fresh bit of paint slapped on the exterior. Much else remains the same: especially the 100 brands of tequila.
I CREELERS HAS GIVEN A new look to its seafood restaurant and bar on Hunter Square, just off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Now, the two dining spaces feature the same menu and the feel is generally casual throughout. Chef Karen Green also prefers an a la carte rather than fixed price menu at lunch, with dishes such as hot-smoked salmon and melon salad or steamed mussels available in small and large portions.
I THE MANAGEMENT OF THE 13th Note Cafe is to assume control of a site in Glasgow's West End. McChuiiI‘s Way Out West in Kelvinhaugh Street will be re-iaunched as West 13th on 24—26 May. Like the King Street operation, which has suffered a drop in custom since receivers took over. the emphasis at West 13th will be on music and vegan food. 13th Note founder Craig Tannock has given up trying to regain control of the King Street location and is looking at others in the city centre.