Wine tasting is a lot like meeting a man, says Spanish sommelier Marta Delfa. The lady with golden locks gives us a glimpse of what a date with her favourite companion is like.
“Take the Mas La Plana (2001 Vintage) for instance. At first, he is shy and nothing much is said. After a moment of waiting, I swirl the glass and the movement makes him a little more comfortable. So he tells me his age. After a while, my nose gets a sense of his personality as well. In this case, I smell tobacco leaves, leather and truffle.
Later, he gives away what kind of fruit in the orchard was used in the making of the bottle and hints of various elements apart from the grapes in the aroma like black currant, marmalade, grilled red peppers.
Finally, my friend tells me where he is from — which part of the world and what kind of soil the grapes were grown in. The older the wine, the longer the conversation lasts, sometimes up to three hours. Of course, I do this every day, so I can tell you all of this in five minutes.” Phew.
An ambassador for Torres wines, Marta has been in Chennai for the past week conducting training sessions and interacting with customers at the Hyatt Regency’s Spanish food festival. Although every meal has been a wine-and-dine, she smiles, “I think I could get sick of steak but never sick of my wine.” For newbies to the art of wine tasting, she explains that during training sessions, one never swallows the wine. “You spit it out, once you’ve had a sip,” she says. “There are some wine fairs where you have up to 50 different brands to be tried at one go,” Marta elaborates, indicating that if one were to ingest that much wine, saturation would kick in very quickly. More importantly, she adds, “After a long day of sipping, I make sure that I help myself to a full glass of a wine of my choice and relish it completely.”
As a philology graduate, one has to wonder how this sommelier discovered her passion in the first place. “It was destiny,” she laughs. “I could speak five languages and Torres was looking for an ambassador.” Travelling the world over to educate hotel management on wine culture, this is Marta’s second time to India. “But my first time in Chennai,” she corrects.
“And it’s great because this is such a fresh market which means every person I meet is quite eager to learn.” So is sightseeing on the agenda, maybe an auto ride to one of her next training sessions? Marta responds with a sigh, “Oh, I have no time for fun in my profession,” except getting to taste wines for a living!’ “Hopefully I get to do something before I go,” she smiles. “Maybe even pick up some Tamil.”