I have this phrase that got told to me when I started my working life. There’s no such thing as a stupid question, unless you ask it twice. I’ve had that in my head for years since, and use it to this day when I’m running wine tastings or tours or whatever. And I stand by it. I want the questions to keep coming. But this week on a press trip to Languedoc, one of the participants at a tasting we were attending did their best at challenging that premise.
The tasting was being run by an English MW who had spent a large portion of his working life living and breathing the wines from the South of France. He knew his stuff. I mean let’s have it right, a FRENCH wine company had hired an ENGLISH wine expert to run the tasting. That doesn’t happen if you’re not up to the job. He was great, had an understated air of confidence, and was ready for anything the audience could throw at him.
We began with the first wine. First up was a fat red wine full of the smells of black fruits. From memory, I think it was blackberry that was the dominant smell, and he guided us through his thoughts on the wine…
…a hand shot up. A member of the audience, who we will affectionately refer to as “Blackberry”, spoke.
BLACKBERRY: So you’re saying this wine smells of blackberry?
BLACKBERRY: But what does blackberry smell like?
PRESENTER: Er…how do you mean?
BLACKBERRY: Well some of my clients (she worked at a New York based importer) have never tried a blackberry, so how do I describe it to them?
Cue lots and lots of everyone else looking at the floor very quickly. You could hear the entire room muttering “that’s your job you muppet!” under their breath. The MW presenting, a picture of class, tried to assuage Blackberry. Well maybe we could liken these wines to James Bond actors, or cars or…
…Blackberry wasn’t finished!
Apparently that was all very well, but we all needed to learn to explain wines to people in a language they can understand. Look, if your salad-dodging clients have never eaten fruit in their lives, we’re going to struggle to explain what a wine that smells of pissing fruit smells like, aren’t we?!?!?!
Blackberry continued for a few more drawn out sentences of utter bollocks, and then came to a merciful rest. 5 minutes of complete awkwardness was at an end and my “no such thing as a stupid question” was in tatters.
But at least we all agreed the 2012 was definitely George Lazenby.