Wine is more than just a beverage. Contained in every bottle is a memory, however faint, of who made it and where it came from. That is what makes it endlessly interesting and, for me, very special. Wine is hugely diverse and varied: different winemakers, different regions, different grapes, different vintages, different styles. As such it deserves to be celebrated and enjoyed. You only need to pay a little attention to what is in your glass to get heaps more enjoyment than if you just knock it back without a thought.
In the region I know best, Burgundy, it is fascinating to see the influence of people and place. Two winemakers, working with the same grape variety, from the same vineyard and in the same vintage will make wines that are noticeably different. Equally, one of those winemakers, working with the same grape variety and in the same year, will make a different wine from each of his vineyards, even if they are adjoining. This applies particularly to Burgundy and is sometimes taken to silly lengths, but it is relevant to every wine region in the world.
There has been too much dumbing-down of wine in recent years, in a worthy but misguided effort to make it less forbidding and more ‘accessible’, but it is a rich and varied subject, worthy of enthusiastic investigation. Attempts to ‘de-mystify’ it, especially by people who should be communicating its great joys, do wine a disservice. Explain it, don’t insult it.
A common mantra amongst colleagues the world over is that wine has never been so good. “Never been so faultless”, might be more accurate, for there are oceans of bland ‘n’ boring (but faultless) wines out there that do not deserve the vast amount of shelf space they are given. Don’t deprive yourself of the joy of wine by sticking to these well-worn paths. Go in search of the people and the place. Follow me.