Wednesday, September 30, 2015

World Of WearableArt

As I was away when it was Nicola’s birthday, we have gone out for the two weekends that sandwich it instead. Last week we went to see The Gondoliers. This Sunday we went to see the World Of WearableArt show, or WOW, at the TSB Arena.

WOW is an annual competition in which designers from around the world come up with some conceptual clothing designs as “wearable art”. The costumes are often made of high-tech materials, including lighting, metals and other non-traditional materials. They’re definitely not something that you could wear to pop down to the shops in!

The competition has been held in Wellington since 2005, and culminates with a show presenting the entries and winners in a number of categories. The show itself is more of a performance art show than a traditional fashion show, with dancers, music, acrobats and special effects. After exhibiting all the costumes the winners of the various awards were announced.

Afterwards we went for a birthday dinner at Coco at The Roxy, where Nicola had the winning cocktail from this year’s inaugural Capital Cocktail competition – part of Wellington On A Plate – which we’d had last month when we went on our Miramar Foodie Trail. We had the Peninsula Platter to start with, followed by couscous-coated fish (Nicola) and wagyu rump steak (me). As usual, top-notch grub!

Wine Evaluation

This semester for my diploma in grapegrowing and winemaking I have been studying sensory science. This involves, as a substantial part of the overall marks for the course, a week of wine evaluation. This takes place on the EIT campus in Napier, in sunny Hawke’s Bay.

I set out from Wellington on Sunday afternoon, and as I approached Napier the rain started to set in for good. I found my motel on Gloucester Street, and checked in. Taking a lesson from my previous residential course, I’d taken the precaution of bringing some ready-made meals with me, so I wouldn’t be at the mercy of the dubious eateries of Taradale.

Wine evaluation is different to wine tasting. Whether you like the wine is largely irrelevant – what we were endeavouring to do was to identify all the flavours in the wine, and decide whether they should be there. This involves, among other things, detecting “wine fault” – the smells and tastes associated with wines that have gone bad, and went into some detail of what causes these faults. There was a small group of us, only 10 in total, as opposed to the 24 who attended the microbiology course I did earlier in the year. Also, most of the attendees on this course were either working at vineyards or had recently done so, so there was a good deal of experience in the room, which I think helped me, and hopefully the others, a great deal when it came to talking about the different wines and the flavours from them. We worked through the main grape varietals grown in New Zealand – sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, riesling, gewurtztraminer and other less-planted white wines; and pinot noir, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz, together with other red wines. On the final day we also dealt with rosé, sparkling and dessert wines.

As part of the course marks, we also had to deliver a presentation on a wine-related subject. The subjects presented covered such topics as malolactic fermentation, “lifestyle” wines (i.e. low-alcohol), regional comparisons of New Zealand chardonnays, wild versus inoculated yeast fermentations. My presentation covered oaked and unoaked chardonnays. At the end of each presentation we tried some wines (usually two) that showed the characteristics of the presentation.

After lunch on Friday, we had an hour-long practical exam where we had to identify wine faults, rank some white wines by acidity and sweetness, and evaluate three white and three red wines. Results should be out in a couple of weeks, then there’s a final written exam at the end of November.

It was a very enjoyable week, with a lot of good wines, and I now feel I know a lot more about what to look for in a wine when I’m tasting it. It was also good to meet people working in the industry, and hopefully I’ll be able to follow up with visits to some of their wineries and vineyards in the next few months.

Oh, and it pissed down all week. Sunny Hawke's Bay, my arse!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Gondoliers

The Wellington Gilbert And Sullivan Society have been at it again, this time producing a rendition of The Gondoliers. We went along for the fun of it.

But first, as it was almost Nicola’s birthday, we went for dinner at Logan Brown. As I am now a member of their highly exclusive loyalty programme, they’d sent me a voucher entitling me to a glass of Louis Roederer champagne. Unfortunately as there’s two of us, we had to share it. We therefore started our dinner with a glass of champagne each, followed by the shared hors d’oeuvres (I ate all the olives in that one), before progressing to venison osso bucco (me) and crispy skin gurnard (Nicola).  All up to the usual Logan Brown standard. We're so decadent.

Last time we went to a G&S we had a bit of a debacle with the tickets, so this time we'd entrusted the ticketing to James. We were getting a bit nervous as he turned up with minutes to spare, but we were safely seated in time for the beginning.

The operetta followed the tried and trusted formula, with the usual  inclusion of updated lyrics in one of the numbers...which mentioned Nicola's part-time boss, ACT MP David Seymour, in one place. the full updated version of There Lived A King can be found here.

It was all very well produced and sung by the soloists and chorus, and we enjoyed it immensely. I'm sure there'll be another one around the corner. Looking back, it was last September since we saw The I guess they produce one per year.