As I was growing up, I enjoyed the odd glass of wine with dinner under the watchful eye of my parents, but June 1994 marked my own personal milestone: buying my first bottle of wine (to certainly not enjoy under the watchful eye of my parents)! It cost me a grand total of R3.50 for a Tassenberg dry red at the Western Province Liquor traders in Stellenbosch. I had just arrived at Elsenburg Agricultural College to study Agricultural research. The course included subjects like winemaking and Viticulture and I had subsequently felt the urgent need to broaden my practical experience in the field…
I clearly remember my first ever “formal” wine tasting that night: sitting in the dark next to the fire with friends sipping from the bottle. What makes this experience so significant to me is that for the first time in my life, I could taste various flavours in the wine. Of course at that stage I couldn’t identify what I was tasting, but I could certainly distinguish them as well as I can now, 13 years later.
I now understand that most of us taste exactly the same components when it comes to wine, even though some of us might label it as black berries and others as farm yard character!
Bottom line: at the end of the day, 90% of us smell and taste the same stuff, just in different concentrations. When we experience a new taste (e.g.strawberry) we store the memory of that particular taste in our brain. As time goes by we create a database of memory. When we then taste that same flavour component again, this time round as part of a whole flavour profile in a wine, it’s easily identifiable by matching it to the tastes in our memory library. (My wife insists that no such memory library exists in her brain!)
It’s been a few years since I’ve had a bottle of Tassenberg, but earlier today, equipped with a slightly more extensive memory library to access.., I went out and bought myself one! I turned the screw cap and remembered that the proper way to indicate my commitment to finish what I’ve started, was to throw it on the floor and step on it!
My tasting notes: The wine is light in colour. On the nose I get a fruit salad of ripe, but not over ripe berries. An overwhelming raspberry nose with hints of strawberry, quite a bit of cherry and slight white pepper. On the palate I get heaps of raspberry with not much structure in terms of acid to support it. The wine has a very soft and almost not present tannin structure with a short mouth feel.
To be honest, it still tasted exactly the way I remembered it…perfect!

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