By Jim Boyce
His name is Alejandro Benitez Ruiz, he works for Spanish wine operation Gonzalez Byass, and he was at tonight’s Wine Enthusiast tasting Hilton Beijing.
A venenciador is skilled at pouring sherry samples. He or she uses a one-meter-long instrument — called a venencia — that has a small cup on one end for gathering the sherry from the cask and a hook on the other to keep the tool from slipping past the user’s hands and to make it easy to hang up afterward. The ritual involves more than simply dipping the cup into a barrel. It also involves accurately pouring it into a glass, sometimes at an impressive distance from the cup, and then finishing without spilling.
These four photos show some of the steps in filling a glass with Croft Pale Cream Sherry. By the way, if you ever find yourself as such a tasting, I recommend finishing at this table, as a few quick full glasses of Sherry will make your wine note-taking pretty much illegible for the rest of the night.
(More on venenciadors here.)