Much has been written, and even more said, on the subject of Wine. Wine has been produced for literally thousands of years. The earliest known production appears in the archaeological record around 6,000 BC in Georgia — that’s the late Neolithic era people! And the last 40 years of cross-cultural competition and technological improvements (plus rise of New World wines!) only capitalized on millennia after millennia of a drink enjoyed by Kings, Queens, clergy, farmers, scholars, sailors, artists, whores, and more.
Before being in the industry, all I knew was that I very much enjoyed drinking wine. But the consistent and proactive exploration of wine and my palate (i.e. mouth, tongue, nose) has become a lifetime passion and one of my central tenants. After 5 years, I know a ton more than I did but now I also know that one lifetime is not nearly enough to truly master this subject. I am still a newbie and a novice. And may be so for at least another decade. But my life on the Annadel vineyards and in making and writing about wine provides me a unique position to at least talk frankly about wine.
First, there is an absurd amount of snotty people who use Wine as their pillar of snobbery. They are idiots. Knowledgeable yes, but idiots nonetheless. I am also guessing they have never really worked in a vineyard or tracked dirt into the house racing in to pee. Their nails have never been purple for months on end nor have their clothes begun to self-ferment because Harvest is just that nuts!
These “Cork Dorks” are just a different variation on the age-old-theme of someone with a ton of knowledge, but even more insecurities. *I am not talking about the down-to-earth wine lovers and Soms.* But in my book, the passionate pursuit of Wine is democratic and should be available to anyone. We all have tongues and noses and taste buds and empty glasses with which to pour a beverage of choice when we eat dinner or lunch. Or breakfast! Wine goes very well with eggs. But Cork Dorks would have you believe Wine is an aloof art cloistered to Private Clubs. However, when you grow the grapes, make the wine, bottle it and cook food with which to pair it, I can emphatically tell you that’s a load of crap. While Wine is a lofty art form, it is also a beverage.
It is a luscious passion that takes joyful work. A key to learning this love (I think) is the invaluable WINE AROMA WHEEL by Dr. Ann Noble at UC Davis. Everyone needs this. If you buy one thing to learn about wine, this is it. And it is only $6. *There are lots of spin-offs for four times the price (even on Amazon) so be sure you buy it from the source. Go here: http://winearomawheel.com/
Keep it on the kitchen table. When you taste wine at night — or better yet with a regular group of friends — this Wheel will help teach your tongue and mouth to think together. How to describe the wine accurately! To connect your palate with brain. So when you taste currants or cassis or toasted walnuts you say “aha!! so that’s what that is.” Even the snootiest Cork Dork had to start somewhere. No one is born knowing the difference between stewed and fresh red tree fruit or passion fruit and white tree fruits. You have to teach your brain to know how to describe the flavors. The Aroma Wheels boils down words to the central flavors of pretty much all wines out there — no matter the country or maker — in one $6, laminated circle of knowledge.
I promise you, learn your own words and claim ownership over your tastes for wine. You will never listen to Cork Dorks again.