Covid Vaccine and Your Wine Taste

The anti-Corona virus vaccinations are apparently doing more to the human body than preventing an infection from China’s finest biological experiment. Since the rolling-out of the Covid-vaccinations in South Africa two weeks back, recipients of the jab have noted a definite and marked changing in their abilities to taste and perceive wine.

Improved flavour profiles, heightened freshness and overall increased deliciousness of the drinking experience, these are some of the experiences wine-lovers have noted after receiving the Pfizer or Johnson&Johnson vaccinations.

Dawes Cotterill, a retired high-school teacher from Kenilworth in Cape Town, is adamant that the vaccination has had a profound effect on his daily wine-drinking.

“I used to belong to a wine club, collecting wine and all that, but since retiring in 2004 I’ve had to rein in the splurging and am mostly drinking box wine or supermarket own-label stuff,” says Cotterill. “Three days after getting my jab at Lentegeur on the Cape flats I was sitting down to a glass of cheap Drostdy-Hof white when I noticed something peculiar. Upon the sniff, I was smelling pure Montrachet white Burgundy in my glass. This gift kept on giving when I sipped the wine. Usually, I just put it away to get a buzz going so that I can handle the television news in a slightly sozzled state. But now, from that glass of cheap plonk Drostdy-Hof I was tasting white flowers, marzipan, sun-kissed citrus and char-grilled organic hazelnuts – features I remember from the days I could afford Burgundy with the wine club.”

Cotterrill’s experience proved not to be a one-off, as the next day’s experience with a bottle of Tassenberg showed. “God knock me down if the Tassenberg did not have a nose of Kanonkop Paul Sauer 1995, all petrichor, pine-needle and crushed mulberry. The wine was still light in colour, as Tas usually is, but in the mouth it had firm tannins, depth and dense dark fruit with an aftertaste far longer than my school-teacher’s pension is going to last.”

His conclusion? “It could only be the vaccination. The jab has made tastes and smells more pleasurable, I am sure,” he says. “Since the Covid vaccination I can even eat my wife’s rhubarb sponge-pudding, and whenever Banger, my Dachshund, rips with one of his farts I only smell Chanel No 5.”

Vector illustration old man drinking wine

According to Clitana Boshoff, a retired viticulturist who still consults to the South African bulk-wine industry, her post-vaccination experience has been equally remarkable. “I was concerned about the Pfizer-jab’s potential side-effects, such as cellulite, decreased sex-drive and an increase in facial hair,” she says. “But I had never considered the potentially positive influences of this vaccination. Which are amazing in that wine now just tastes better. I am tasting tropical fruits, minerality and freshness in the lowliest of bulk wines from Worcester and the Breedekloof. Since I had the jab, even Ruby Cabernet is hitting my palate with the same complexity and purity as a Bordeaux 2nd Growth. And when I tasted a Paarl Shiraz without any Brettanomyces on it, I finally knew that my sensorial abilities had been affected by the vaccination.”

Prof Joseph Nellekin, a renowned wine collector and professor in Sensorial Science at the University of Cape Winelands, says he has heard of similar experiences from members of the wine industry who have received the vaccination, but cannot validate this as he is not yet of vaxxer-age.

“I have alerted Johnson&Johnson and Pfizer to these instances of increased pleasure in wine-drinking, and the researchers are looking into it,” he says. “It is early days yet, but if this is the case, the wine industry stands to benefit in droves. No more hipsters complaining about mouth-puckering red wine tannins or bowl-sensitive middle-aged wine drinkers eschewing the acidity of Sauvignon Blanc or unwooded Chardonnay. If everybody who has been vaccinated against Covid finds nothing but pleasure in the wine-drinking experience, beer and gin will fall by the wayside. And wine will rule the world.”

Marissa Parradine, a daily columnist for various wine blogs, says she is not surprised to hear these post-vaccination stories concerning more enjoyable wine drinking. “This is just another ploy by China, this time to promote their own substandard wine industry,” she says.

“No doubt Beijing fiddled with the Covid-vaccines so that all wine tastes acceptably good, which will include those appalling Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots made in China and with which they plan world-domination. Once everybody is vaccinated and everyone is loving the joy of any wine before them, China will flood the market with its rotgut stuff knowing that this grog will, at last, be palatable. Their last resort and the only way. And as with everything to do with Covid, China will have the final say.”

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