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The Korea Times THURSDAY, JUNE 11, 19881 3 Art of Wine: Tasting, Note-Taking, Writing By

The Korea Times

The Korea Times THURSDAY, JUNE 11, 19881 3 Art of Wine: Tasting, Note-Taking, Writing By Ken

THURSDAY, JUNE 11, 19881 3

Art of Wine: Tasting, Note-Taking, Writing

By Ken Kim

Times Wine Writer

W ho said that writing wine columns is an exact sci- ence? At least for this wine writer, it is not. In

fact, everything that has to do with wine is an art m:ore than anything else. As you may recall, my last column was about the wine tasting gala at the Westin Chosun and I mentioned that Ernest Gallo had passed away as a result of a traffic accident.

Well, the day the story came out, I

got a fax from Gallo Korea stating that

it was not Ernest but Julio who passed

away. My sincere apology to the entire Gallo family for my oversight in this personal matter. Please, forgive me Earnest!

I also have to talk about the candle-

light of which I was so critical. Just a

day after I got that fax about Ernest, I ran into Joerg Limper, the Executive Assistant Manager for the Food and Beverage of the Westin, who discreet- ly pointed out to me that the subject candles were not fake, electric ones.

I later stopped by the Ninth Gate

restaurant to see the candles again for myself. Indeed, I had been fooled! The Swiss-made casings fit the can-

dles so tightly that I mistook them for electric ones. And now you know why

I say that writing a wine column is not an exact science. Now, let me begin with what I really

want to share with you today. Last Friday, an invitation to their wine tasting came from the Embassy of Chile. Chile is a vast coastal land in South America that has become a fine addition to the wine world due to the country's good soil, excellent climate and the low cost of land and labor. As

I am always interested in trying the

wines of the world, I accepted and attended the tasting. I was so glad I did because the setting was so much like the wine schools you see in Europe. The embassy of Chile had brought five varietals: two whites and three reds for the occasion. Master of Sommelier Hector Vergara was there to lead the tasting. By the way, the title "Master of Sommelier" means that the person has passed three days of rigorous testing administered by the prestigious Wine Institute of England. In the wine busi- ness, passing the tests is equivalent to

earning a Ph.D in other fields. As always, the order of tasting start- ed with the two white wines- Sauvi- gnon Blanc Chicureo 1997 and Chardonnay 1996 Montes. These two varietals are very exotic in that Sauvi- gnon Blanc almost resembles the Riesling varietal and the Chardonnay

almost resembles the Riesling varietal and the Chardonnay The Andes not only provide Chile's vineyards with

The Andes not only provide Chile's vineyards with a natural barrier against phylloxera- they supply natural irrigation too.

against phylloxera- they supply natural irrigation too. is very flowery with vanilla (oak) fla- vor. They

is very flowery with vanilla (oak) fla-

vor. They had a very "light body," mean- ing that they lacked the very punch that a typical Chardonnay usually brings to your palate. If I was asked to take a blind-fold tasting of these wines, my guesses would have been way off because they were very differ- ent in aroma as well as flavor from more common wines.

Unlike the whites, the red wines - Merlot Vina Gracia 1997 and Caber- net Sauvignon Vina Lomas De Cauquenes 1997- were well-bal- anced in every respect and could easi- ly complement the meal of your choice without much fuss. The Cabernet Sauvignon Vieilles Vinges 1996 Chautea Los Boldos was the last varietal tasted and this caber- net really got my attention because it was a rather young wine but I could not find any of the harshness often found in a young cabernet. According to Dominique Massenez,

a French oenologist for the Chateau Los Boldos, the grapes used for this particular wine are cultivated only at selected areas within the vineyard. Of course, there is no need to mention that the grapes are hand-picked and that the fermented wine is aged in French oak barrels made only from Troncias forest of France, since that is

what all fine wine makers do. Had I tasted this cabemet with the label covered, I would not have been able to tell its difference from a mid- range priced French Bourdeaux right away. I must repeat that I was most impressed by this selection. There were other wines at the tasting as well and I was told that this event was an annual wine road show spon- sored by the Chilean Wine Institute to promote their wines in Asia. I was also told that this was their second event and that it is going to be an ongoing affair.

0 ne thing I noticed during the tasting is that the orga- nizers had kindly prepared a "tasting note sheet." The

most interesting thing about this were the Korean translations it featured. Quite frankly, I thought only about 10 percent of what appeared on the note sheet represented successful transla- tions. Other wine expressions were basically written in Korean the way

the words are pronounced in English. I felt only respect for the brave trans- lator who made such a daring attempt to perfonn this task because no matter how good a translator is, it is simply impossible to find Korean words that match certain English wine terms exactly. The ones that are easily translatable

are the words used in color descrip- tions and a few others, but when one hears wine drinkers talking about wine tastes like chocolate or vanilla, for example, well, a Korean translator can

run into some trouble. Not having the equivalent Korean vocabulary is one thing, but more basic than that, it is probably rather difficult for a Korean

to relate to descriptions of the tastes of

wine given from Westerners' point of view. For instance, chances are it wouldn't be easy for a Korean to imagine some- thing like a chocolate flavor in a wine because most Koreans are not as cul- tured in their taste mechanisms as Westerners are. To say that they could taste chocolate in wine would be like a French or an Italian person saying "Gee, I can taste the kimchi flavor in this." Nevertheless, I must admit that I do use this expression from time to time when I come across a particularly spicy wine, but I feel I can do this

because I am a Korean-American. Another comment I have about the note sheet relates to the frequent ques- tions I received when I was working on it, like "Why do you do all this note-taking when your purpose is just

to enjoy the wine?" Perhaps the obser-

vation of note-takers staring at, smelling and then swiveling wine about in their mouths as if it might have been chemically poisoned has something to do with the asking of these types of questions. In fact, a newcomer to the wine world might even think that the wine

taster doing all these things has a seri- ous problem with his nose or some other disorder. But, of course, there is no need to worry. More often than not,

he just wants to experience the taste of

the wine more fully. One rule of the thumb concerning wine is that the more experienced the wine-taster, the greater fuss he or she will make in drinking it. And, if you think about it, it is all

part of the fun of drinking wine. Wine, unlike any other food, can be a great source of excitement to those who tru- ly enjoy it. As a form of art which assists one to remember things like romantic places, special people, histo- ry, scenery, climate, countries and many other things, it is only natural that one would take the time to enjoy every sip, sniff and swallow of it. So even at the risk of being mistaken for a person with some strange habits, take your time in savoring your wine. Do not to drink it the way some Kore- ans drink soju, which is more or Jess "the faster the better." You should try

to get a strong sense of the elements in

a wine when you drink it, especially

when you confront a wine you have never had before.