Thus the names of people involved in the following story and the amount of wine purchased have been altered to protect credit card identities.
There is nothing quite like a foray to Hunter Valley Wine Country with a mini-bus full of willing wine lemmings eager to educate their palette. So scenic, so accessible, so many toilet breaks along the way.
An official private tasting was organised at the first vineyard visited because attention spans typically wander the deeper you get into this kind of day.
The tasting was conducted in an ornate room away from the hoi polloi, creating a general sense of exposure to commercial opportunity, I mean, exclusiveness.
I was feeling pretty special as I sat down to the first of over a dozen drops which would not only challenge my notion of brunch, but ultimately, the ability to spell my name. Looking back this might have saved me signing up for wine club. Certainly the vibe as we got down to business with our informative host was that we were building towards, if not retainable knowledge, then certainly a cathartic purchase, encouraged by the premium discount on offer.
The story of the various wines, grapes, processes and appropriate combinations generated many jokes our host had no doubt heard a million times. Lucky he'd been drinking for 30 years, as he said.
It was put to us that there are "Friday" wines, and "Saturday" wines. Friday, we drink for "effect" (read sedation), Saturday we drink for taste (to show off). No mention was made of Sunday to Thursday.
Some wines went well with different types of meat, seafood and occasionally kebabs.
The phrase "carpark wine", referring to pink bubbly stuff, was uttered with a hint of derision but was OK to drink if purchased from this particular cellar door, even on Saturday. If it was a multi-storey carpark, not sure.
As we moved through the whites the power of suggestion came to the fore as someone suggested we move onto the reds. I think it was our host. The idea was met with a chorus of approval when revealed the palette cleanser would be champagne.
Or rather something that fizzes like a beverage made in that region of France but which can't be referred to as such anywhere else due to ongoing international trademark feuds. So much to learn, so much growing inability to do so.
Reds, we were told, are shaped by the land in which they're grown and possibly the carpark in which they're imbibed. A mixture of terra and horror depending on how rough.
Fortified by this knowledge we stormed into the ports and dessert wines.
Truly delectable and more than than enough lubricant to loosen up the PIN number. All we had to do was re-interpret tasting notes made along the journey.
All up, a wonderfully enjoyable experience that had everyone babbling, I mean bubbling by the end.