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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Talking Past One Another

A casual conversation about wine on a flight between Bucharest and Vienna turned, sadly, into a cultural stand-off. The young man in the window seat turned out to be a Romanian sommelier working in Salzburg to whom Daniela, in the middle seat, introduced me – knowing how much I appreciate wines ...ever since a cycle trip in my teens to the south of France in 1960!
But what should have been a pleasurable, if not educational, conversation during the flight was soured by….prejudice….I dare say on both sides…..

I don’t pretend to know a great deal about Romanian wines but - after 10 years’ experience of drinking Bulgarian wines (not least at 3 of the massive annual weekend tastings which Sofia organises in November) and a winter of tutelage under a young Bulgarian sommelier – I do know that Bulgarian wines deserve more respect than this young whippersnapper was giving them…I mentioned the little Bulgarian wine Catalogue produced on the eve of the annual Sofia tasting and observed the absence of such a Romanian publication – only to be told that I was wrong. He said there is such a publication – but only for sommeliers. He didn’t seem to understand that ordinary drinkers might like to have access to such a compendium - and indeed that such a restriction effectively means exactly what I said - that no such publication exists.....

On my side I didn’t take kindly to his dismissal of the possibility of getting a useful experience from any bottle priced at 5 euros – “they cost more than 3 euros to produce” he expostulated….I didn't have the heart to tell him that one of my favourite Romanian whites - Jidvei Riesling - retails for exactly 3 euros!

But what did it for me was his mention of a bottle priced at 1000 euros – “Just stupid” I muttered – to which he took high offence. Quick end of our conversation - although Daniela continued to engage him in conversation during which he mentioned that he had started drinking wines only in 2009 (!!) and emphasized the intensity of his training – and, of course, my ignorance.

What lesson do I draw…something to do with the closed mind…sommeliers, by definition, deal with rich people and therefore, despite the world of tastes having being opened to them, develop the arrogance of experts. And young Romanians are notorious for such arrogance - as is well testified by Ronnie Smith on page 80 of my Mapping Romania.....

I’d like to see how Theodor Zeldin might have handled such a conversation to more mutual advantage! 

A Zeldin Resource

A wine resource
This list gives a good indication of some of the Bulgarian wineries who present their wines at the annual fair in Sofia. And this is the list of Romanian wineries for the Bucharest event (which is in May)
The one field in which Romania does seem to score higher (?!) is that of wine blogs eg

I should have done my homework on Austrian wine-bars before hitting Austria…The white wines I could find were all boring variants of their Gruner Weltliners and Rieslings!
Far more interesting were those I found yesterday from a new Romanian vineyard (for me) in the Dobrogea area (near the Black Sea) - Macin vineyard. Superb Aligote, Muscat, Sauvigon Blanc and Feteasca Regeales – all for 2 euros a litre. 

pps this is a good article on the whole issue of wine tastes 

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