To regular visitors of my blog, it should come as no surprise that my 'W' post is about wine, especially because this whole A to Z series is dedicated to things that bring me joy and make life more interesting.
I love good wines. Over the past years, I've taken a few wine tasting courses, but I'm still more an aficionado than a connoisseur. However, next time I can free up a larger chunk of time, I am planning to go through the full sommelier training.
|'Wine Cellar in Tuscany'. |
© 2007, Delicious Italy - cc
In this post, for those of you who are interested, I want to share some basic information about what makes a good wine, and about wine tasting in general. I suggest you pour a glass and savour it while you read on. Cheers!
The most important thing about wine, apart from the health benefits (when drunk in moderation), is that the person who drinks it, enjoys it.
If you love the taste of a particular wine, don't let anybody tell you that's bad. Personal enjoyment isn't linked to price or critics' opinions, and a wine doesn't have to be expensive to be pleasant, interesting or exciting.
On the most basic level of enjoying wine, reviews and ratings are irrelevant. However, as is the case with many aspects of life, when you learn more about a product or a process, you discover new layers of enjoyment, fascination and respect.
By studying wine and training your palate, you open yourself up to new levels of appreciation, not just for the product, but also for the craftmanship of the people who grew the grapes, harvested them, composed and produced the wine.
Compare this to an experienced musician, who would notice more intricacies of a piece of music; a basketball player who detects hidden strategies and opportunities when watching a game; or a writer, who can admire a good example of 'showing rather than telling' where other readers just see a sentence.
Winemaking truly is an art, which requires expertise in many areas.
- the type of soil and age of the vines affect the flavours present in the grape. Old vines (or vines in particular types of soil) tend to have deeper roots, which means that they can take in nutrients and water from more layers of soil. Each layer adds a nuance to the final taste, i.e. more depth and complexity.
- the climate and microclimate in which the grapes grow. Temperature, the conditions and the length of the growing season, all affect the quality and sugar content of the grapes. The greatest wines tend to come from vineyards with the best location, due to temperature, orientation towards the sun, the presence of a river that reflects sunlight, surrounding vegetation, ...
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it should give an idea of the complexity of the process, and of the fact that in many cases, a wine's price is an indication of quality, at least in the definition of craftsmanship, human energy that's gone into the process, complexity and depth of flavours.
I have chosen a video here to replace the 1,000 words I would need to convey the same information. I like how it summarises the most important basics:
Are you a wine person? Do you have a favourite wine?
Image 1: 'Wine' by jhenrirose. Available under a creative commons license. © 2008, jhenrirose.
Image 2: 'Wine Cellar in Tuscany' by Delicious Italy. Available under a creative commons license. © 2007, Delicious Italy.
Image 3: '2003 Christmas House Wine Cellar' by Gatsby. Available under a creative commons license. © 2002, Gatsby.
Image 4: 'Vineyard 002' by Viña Caliterra. Available under a creative commons license. © 2008, Viña Caliterra.