Wine isn’t just about taste. It’s seen, it’s smelt and it’s felt… all senses are involved at a wine tasting.
This is a philosophy that Mary Hamilton of Hugh Hamilton Wines feels strongly about, believeing one can truly connect with a wine through sensory memories. The sixth-generation Hamilton family member was inspired to create ‘Tasting of the Senses’, which is a brand new cellar door experience based on exactly what its name suggests: tasting with the senses.
“During ‘Tasting of the Senses’ guests are presented with sensory stimulants that takes them through four or five senses; drawing on their memories of colour, smell, taste, and texture,” Mary said, “Once they have finished exploring, we show them how to use their senses when tasting wine.”
We were invited to visit Hugh Hamilton Wines in McLaren Vale the other week to try out this new wine tasting experience, arriving with an uncertainty of what to expect. Having never really thought into wine tasting as deeply as sensory connections, we were excited to learn something new!
Entering the iconic cellar door, we revelled at the stunning 270 degree view of the surrounding vineyards and elegant long tables set up for us. Each table was complete with appropriate glassware, cheese platters for taste and other sensory objects to compare our wines with. This included pieces of fabric such as rough denim and soft chiffon for texture, and glass bowls of foods to smell, basking in the aromas of chocolate, coconut, strawberries, star anise and more.
Mary Hamilton was totally engaging and helped us gain quite an insight into wine tasting without being too technical with her wine jargon. She spoke in a manner that made the whole experience more relaxing and enjoyable, taking us on a somewhat cinematic journey through the story of the Hamilton family and how their winery began as one of Australia’s very first.
From there, she went on to explain the way in which wine tastings can often cause uneccessary anxiety (it sounds ridiculous, we know, but read on!). Essentially, when you attend a wine tasting, people often start to use technical terms to describe the wine – ones you may not have even heard of before – and start to note similar smells and tastes which you may not be experiencing. You might find yourself worried to make notes aloud for fear of getting it wrong.
Alas, these are definitely not the kind of feelings wine tastings should be evoking. Mary explains that once people trust themselves to simply sit back and enjoy the drop, then they can truly connect with the character of the wine and develop a greater appreciation for the tasting experience.
And that is most definitely how we felt at our tasting session at Hamilton Wines. Playing with the textures of the fabrics and making connections between the tastes of the wines to the cheese platters, we found the exprerience extremely interactive and fun rather than daunting or stressful. The sensory exploration gave us a unique perspective of wine, one in which we’ll definitely pursue using in the future of tastings to come.
If you’d like to carry out a ‘Tasting of the Senses’ adventure, head to Hugh Hamilton Wines at 94 McMurtrie Road, McLaren Vale (open 7 days). For just $20 per person, you get the full experience plus cheese platters. For more information or to book, click here.