By Grace Abell-Neal on 12 Dec 2016
I’d never organised a hen party before, but assumed that these things take more than a week to plan. Nevertheless, on Friday night, the bride and three hens gathered in my York kitchen to learn wine tasting from wine expert Mireille (Mimi).
Starting the evening with an assessment of our wine knowledge, which clarified that we were novices. Uncorking a bottle of Elena Walch Pinot Grigio, we were directed to discern the aroma and flavour of wine, and then compare this with a mystery bottle of organic Pinot Gris. Organic wine being Mireille's specialism, she insisted there are no right or wrong answers. I could smell citrus while the bride could smell honey. A few infographics and sample scents were provided to help us identify what aromas we might be experiencing, from the summery ‘red fruit’ to the urban decay of ‘wet concrete’. For the poor soul who was driving, a spittoon was provided. After all, what is a wine tasting without one?
After comparing the white wines, we had a little break for snacks and putting the world to rights, while Mireille prepared the red wines. As the evening was organised at short notice, I provided three bottles of wine for the tasting, with my intention of buying a white, a red and a rosé. Like the most able of novices, my selection was made by price, figuring a minimum spend of £10 a bottle would ensure that our French guest wouldn’t find them trop terrible. The Château Lestrille Capmartin Bordeaux Clairet, while categorically speaking a merlot, took the role of a rosé despite its vibrant hue being closer to red. In any case, Mireille was impressed that I could buy it in York, with which I've been beaming with pride since.
We compared the Clairet with my favourite red, a Hey Malbec! by Riccitelli. This is my go-to dinner party wine. (I’m a capable cook at best, but serving this malbec has never failed to impress.) Mimi educated us in what colour, body, alcohol volume and acidity might mean, all relative measurements of marking a quality bottle of wine. The tasting will pay dividends when selecting wine to accompany food, wine for vegetarians or being able to tell if a bottle has been corked. (This is something a good restaurant should check for you.)
The hens were welcome to chime in with questions throughout the night, which served well when the evening finished with a quiz. Thankfully the quiz was lighthearted and didn’t leave me scratching my head trying to remember what DOC on a bottle was an acronym for. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata if you’re wondering.)
I can honestly say that this was the nicest hen party I’ve been to, including my own. Each hen enjoyed the wine and Mireille’s teaching was engaging and not stuffy. The night could be adapted to more hens, and different venues, such as a bar; a flexibility which suits brides who aren’t one-size-fits-all. The cost of the evening was excellent value, less than a restaurant dinner for each hen, as well as being far more fun.
To book Mimi for a wine tasting visit http://mimiswinetastings.com