The wine industry is huge in France. Multi-billion dollar big, and part of the infrastructure that is incredibly important is the people who work as vintners, sommeliers and yes, wine tasters.
So what happens if you catch a case of COVID, and one of the side effects that hits you is the loss of smell and taste. For one wine taster Reuters featured, it’s a worse case scenario.
Sophie Pallas said “It was like being in a black hole. It was a terrifying feeling, a total loss of my bearings.”
When your job is to identify instantly and differentiate delicate and subtle undertones, not having your sense of smell and taste is a nightmare. According to Pallas, she said that wine stopped generating any feeling, any emotion, any pleasure, because all I could detect was the alcohol and the acidity.”
It might sound like an insignificant problem but considering how big the wine making machine in France is, the role of Oenologists like Pallas is important, as they are trained in the science of winemaking and advise the manufacturers on details like distillation, blending and bottling.
The story in reporters mentioned a survey of 2,600 members of the Union of Oenologists that showed over one third of the member that contracted COVD had the disease affect their job performance. The head of the union even petitioned the President of France to move wine tasters to the front of the line for COVID vaccinations.
When Pallas started to regain her sense of taste and smell, to speed up the process of recovery she would go into her kitchen every morning and night and inhale the scent of spices, coffee beans and vanilla pods to retrain her nose to pick up on flavors.
The springtime is ultra important for France champagne-makers, as they rely on the wine tasters to find the proper blending of fermented and reserve wines to create the base for a future cuvee.