A couple of weekends ago The Husband and I travelled to Cambridgeshire for the day. It was lovely. Not that far out of London (around 1 1/4 hours to the centre of Cambridge) it was beautifully quiet countryside.

There were two aspects to the day: firstly, a trip to a vineyard (Christmas present from Sister-In-Law-The-Elder); and secondly, a trip to visit the Vicar and family who have relocated to Cambridge for three years ‘to pursue matters more cerebral’ (as a thank you motion to the departing DoF at a former client once put it).

The vineyard trip was most enjoyable (although I would not recommend The Activity Superstore
through whom it was arranged …. it took about three attempts to get through to book, with messages not returned at all when I was informed they would be … then we couldn’t book very far in advance….. then the start time given for the day was half an hour earlier than it needed to have been … all in all – quite disorganised).

Anyhow, we visited Chilford Hall.
After a brief history of Chilford Hall itself (apparently the man behind the Little Chef chain was behind its development as a conference centre), we had a very pleasant tour (total group about 20-30) followed by a tasting session and nice lunch. Normally my taste extends only to Pinot Grigio, but we found a couple of other wines which were quite pleasant. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that my palate can detect some differences between wine (although quite slight differences, and I still marvel to think that a whole industry has grown up around the ability to describe a wine as ‘clean and toasty finish, hints of melon, lychee and grapefruit on the nose’…..). We particularly liked ‘Chilford Medium 2006’ made from Mueller Thurgau and Reichensteiner grapes – an ‘award winning medium [is] made distinctive by its rich medley of fruit and floral aromas’.
Things we learned:

  • tilting the wine at a 45 degree angle: as white wine ages the colour moves from clear to greeny to yellow to deep yellow (for red wine, the progress is watery, purple, darker purple, brown).
  • your tongue tastes as follows: tip – sweetness, back – bitter, sides – acidity
  • swirling the wine round the glass and watching the ‘legs’ gives an indication of alcohol content – the slower the descent, the higher the alcohol content.
  • taste buds – there are 10k on the tongue, but 10m in the olfactory bulb behind the nose…