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IMG_1670, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

Tasting pinot right requires education and practice. It seems appropriate to quote the movie Sideways (courtesy of IMDB.com):

Miles Raymond: Let me show you how this is done. First thing, hold the glass up and examine the wine against the light. You’re looking for color and clarity. Just, get a sense of it. OK? Uhh, thick? Thin? Watery? Syrupy? OK? Alright. Now, tip it. What you’re doing here is checking for color density as it thins out towards the rim. Uhh, that’s gonna tell you how old it is, among other things. It’s usually more important with reds. OK? Now, stick your nose in it. Don’t be shy, really get your nose in there. Mmm… a little citrus… maybe some strawberry…
[smacks lips]

Miles Raymond: … passion fruit…
[puts hand up to ear]

Miles Raymond: … and, oh, there’s just like the faintest soupçon of like asparagus and just a flutter of a, like a, nutty Edam cheese…

Jack: Wow. Strawberries, yeah! Strawberries. Not the cheese…

On a rainy day in Queenstown before our big hike we spent an entire day tasting pinots of the Central Otago Region. It was an organized tour of vineyards. No driving for me thanks! But surprisingly we were the only ones who’d signed up this particular day so it was just us and our guide Jo. She knows a lot about wine and food, and when I asked her opinion of the Routeburn track we were about to hike, she said she’s run it in six hours. Michael and I just finished these 25 or so miles in three days, and I feel every inch of that hike in every muscle in my body. That says a lot about Jo.

One of the cooler spots on the wine tour was a place called The Big Picture, which doesn’t have its own wine but sells a lot of it and has a cafe, and also has a place they call the “Aroma Room.” There were 40 or 50 little perfume-like bottles in a row on a counter around the perimeter of the room that represent the various ways wine can smell. Oak, toast, roses, even musk! There was a little bottle for everything.

It was tempting to buy a lot of wine but we escaped with just a couple bottles we’ll drink before leaving Queenstown. We opened one of them today right after making it to our accommodation. This place lost our reservation which was for a double, and the only thing left was a bunkroom. What a bummer. As I was sitting on one of the four twin beds, drinking one of these fine pinots, I wondered whose stuff was on the odd two beds. Right about then two guys who are not traveling together walked in. One’s 20 and Australian and hiking around NZ on his own, and the other is German. He was wearing all black motorbike gear and looked to be in his late 20s and said he’s motorcycling New Zealand. This was such a strange situation. I asked them if they wanted some wine and so Michael and these two oddballs and I all toasted with plastic cups. The Australian guy said he thought it was good wine.