Wine is an alcoholic beverage made with the fermented juice of grapes. This much, we all know. However, wine is much more than just that. Wine is also a lifestyle, a social lubricant, an adventure, a regional identity and above all a result of the hard work of farmers and wine makers.
Wine has become a very integral part of our social culture. It is an important part of our meals and parties and also our travels. Wine enthusiasts are on the rise and many are getting more deep in the subject, with various wine courses, wine tastings and wine clubs becoming more sought after and more popular.
Every group of friends has its ‘wine-expert’, many times a self-proclaimed one, the one who always gets the wine list in restaurants and to go-to person for wine advise, whether to give as a gift and to take to a party. But many times even though there is interest, many find this wine subject a little daunting a subject they are afraid to tread in not to risk making a fool of themselves.
As a wine professional myself, I come across this situation many times, when around a table, someone who will be drink wine with me, exclaims that he likes the wine, but knows nothing about the subject so he locks himself in the dungeon of wine-idiocy and bars himself from commenting. This is like saying I am not allowed to comment on a car because I am not a mechanic.
Rule number one in the wine lovers’ guide is you drink what you like. You don’t really need to know whether it rained in June or whether the soil is limestone or gravel to be able to appreciate what you are drinking. Most of the times, whenever I was sharing a very good wine with a group of people who drank wine but were not so knowledgeable, the wine always went down very well.
My second rule in the guide is what I call the three Ts:
1. Try – Try as many wines as possible, do not stick to drinking the same wine over and over again, yes, we all have our favorites but it gets boring and you would have spend your life drinking a Gavi rather than explore the different wines out there. Italy alone have over 350 different varieties. So be a wine explorer and see what you like and dislike.
2. Take Note – Nowadays many apps exist which allow to keep a record of what we are drinking. As much as I have my reservations on using these apps to decide whether to drink a wine or not based on its rating, I like to build my own opinion. These apps are good as we can see what wines we liked or liked less. You will understand what is the style of wine that suits you.
3. Travel – In the 20 plus years I have worked in the wine industry, the best learning experience was when I travelled and visited wine producers and wine regions. One thing is reading about wine and one things is seeing with your own eyes why a wine tastes a certain way, why they use a certain grape variety rather than the other. Its interesting, educational and most of all, its fun.
Last but not least, a very important rule is to not focus too much on the price. Yes, price is a very important denominator when it comes to quality and a super cheap wine will definitely have its limitations. But you don’t have to force yourself to like a wine just because it is expensive.
There are many factors, such as supply and demand, that can push the price of a wine up, in the same way as sometimes a wine is bought simply because it is cheap. If we’re talking price range, I’d much rather have a very good Nebbiolo than a cheap Barolo. The wine obviously needs to fit our budgets, but it should not control our judgement.
Over the next few weeks, with these features we will go through the many aspects of the wine world. Wine travel tips, how to best enjoy wine, some recommendations and even some information of what is going on in the wine scene. Until then, I raise a glass of Pio Cesare Barbera d’ Alba that I am currently drinking and wish you good health. Cheers!