Wine not?

Hello winelover! If you feel that wine-speak is not for you, you will be happy to know that I talk about wine like I talk about people and nature. Communicating in simple terms works best for all of us. Wine is so much fun and that's why I am so serious about it!

Effi drinks wine and she loves it.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Long live the non-Winegeeks!

What I love more about wine, are the wine lovers. 

Those who appreciate the arrival of a new wine but always have this one, their special one, to which they remain loyal and have lots of stories to share.

My point is that you do not have to care about the annual rainfall of the country of origin, the sunlight hours during the period of the harvest or the irrigation system used, in order to be able to fully appreciate a wine. Winegeeks often forget about the simple pleasures of drinking wine and they end up analysing every single sip.

Riesling Summit 2012

The non-Winegeeks often complain that they do not know how to talk about wine and when I ask for their opinion they laugh shyly and say: "Why would you ask me? You are the expert, I do not know how to describe a wine!" This is one of the biggest lies ever told regarding wine.

I like to think that a tasting process of a new wine is very similar to the process of meeting a new person. Well, yes I admit it! I talk to my wine...but please let me explain my idea. When I open a bottle of wine reminds me of shaking hands and when you pour the wine into the glass it reminds me of sitting down and say: "So, what’s your story?" Wine-relationships, this is a phrase that I regularly use and people around look me suspiciously. But I know I am right, because think about it! What is the first thing you do when you meet someone for the first time? You look at him/her trying to isolate these characteristics that best describe the person.

The eyes are the window to the soul- Appearance

So you hold your glass, you find the right angle to have the maximum amount of light and start identifying  colours, highlights, intensity and of course clarity. It seems like looking the eyes of a person; they can tell you a whole story. Let’s say you have a fresh white wine in your glass, and instead of lively green highlights you end up with slightly brown ones. You know you don’t like them but you can’t tell really why, if you are not a wine connoisseur. Same happens with people, you mostly need a quick look to describe somebody. 

All of you are able to describe the color of a wine, you can refer to many shades of yellow for instance. You see the lemons, the peppers, the herbs and the melons. You know many shades of red and rose, just feel free to use any kind of terms you want.

There is chemistry between us- Nose

What is the wine that can raise your heart beat and make your palms sweat? That can make your dopamine levels reach high levels? This is how you feel when you sense a person’s unique and personal scent, its pheromones. Pheromone comes from the Greek words phero (φέρω) "to bear” and hormone ,hormi (ὁρμή) - "impetus”. Researchers are still working on the role of pheromones and how they can have affect the feelings of attraction, but one is clear and simple; if there’s chemistry, you might have a good reaction. There is a clear similitude.

So, please, do not feel embarrassed to say if you like or not a wine, not even the best palette in the world can convince you otherwise. Your taste is unique and you have to satisfy your taste buds. You do not have to be able to identify cork taint or know what this molecule does.

Do not feel that you have to agree with the expert of the table, life is too short to drink wine you do not enjoy!

London in a wine glass
A person’s way to their heart is through their …- Palate

Well, if the previous 2 stages of the recent acquaintance are successful enough you may proceed to the real taste of it. When referring to actually tasting the wine, you are most likely to have read or heard people talking about the "body". This, I believe, is one of the most real and easy terms in wine tasting, because you can really imagine what it means. Light-bodied or ethereal and elegant; medium-bodied or full and fruity; full bodied or powerful and robust, we all mean the same.

It is a very funny and clever way to learn more about wine and tasting; just sit down with your family, friends or colleagues and feel free to express yourself. Say all those things you were beholding all this time, like "reminds me of cheddar cheese in a coffee pot"!

The joy of wine

Have fun,
à bientôt!

Monday, 9 July 2012

"Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.", Oscar Wilde

This is the absolute truth, Oscar Wild had once more identified a real problem and expressed it with a humorous touch.

This quote hasn't stopped running in my head, since that day almost one month ago, when I was given to taste a Greek red wine, which was actually a wanna-be French wine. Are you confused? Yes, me too!

So, the winemaker had the aspiration to make a fine quality red wine, a real Bordeaux... but in Greece. He used the classic Bordeaux blend and made everything by the book. The result was a truly fine wine, a professional taster would find it very challenging to put his finger on a fault or a problem. But who would guess the origin of this fine product? Let's check the bottle, some important information may be on it. Then I was even more triggered, as I lifted the bottle; the label was written in French with French words and colors and everything you would expect from a French wine.

It got me then thinking, what would I do if I went to Greece and  after getting off the aeroplane, I would see the Tour Eiffel in front of me? Then, what if I went go for a walk  by the sea and craved for grilled fishes and fresh salads and instead I would get a foie gras or cassoulet? Of course, I truly love South-West France cuisine, but.. I am in Greece. I want to smell and taste and eat Greek traditional recipes.  

But this wasn't the first and surely will not be the last time that winemakers are trying to make a wine in a country X but what they really want is to make the exact same wine, as produced in a country Y. The most recent incident, was in a Riesling tasting, where a Riesling of Washington D.C. was described as a real German Riesling. Why? Why? Alas, people do not have entirely understood the importance of Terroir.

                                                                  Respect your Terroir

The concept of Terroir refers to the relationship of an agricultural product characteristics (quality, taste, style) and its geographical origin. It can be described as an interactive ecosystem in a given area, which includes climate, soil and vines. (Senguin, 1988).

I think, that a wine should be the embodied pride of its origin and should reflect the soil, the sun, the rain, the fog; the micro- and macro climate of its land. Otherwise, it is a wine that has no character or personality or something to say really. So what? This would be my comment.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Riesling Madness

I am mad for Riesling, pretty much as most of the wine aficionados I encounter in tastings. 

Everyone has an opening line, hidden in their sleeve, that starts with: "Oh, I am so enthusiastic about Riesling these days......blah blah blah". I do not believe that there is a single person in the wine industry that would go and say it out loud: No, I do not have a clue about what Riesling is all about!

It makes you wonder how all the professionals in the UK are so passionate about Riesling, yet the consumers do not share their enthusiasm. Most of the tastings organised by the Wines of Germany, in order to promote Riesling wines, are targeting the professionals but not the consumer; I spot a clear communication gap just here. People tend to believe that by approaching the journalists, the bloggers, the restaurants or the retailers will just solve their problem but it's just not working. Wine consumers do not receive enough direct contact with the actual product, simple as that.

Last year, I submitted my Masters' Thesis, titled "The profile of German dry white wine in the UK- Repositioning Riesling in the British market." One of the major problems I came across is the difficulty to speak the consumer language and not describing wines with "elderflower", "lychee" or "ice bon-bon", for the simple reason that consumer do not tend to engage with such descriptors. Especially, in the UK, one of the most challenging and important importing wine countries, consumers tend to be very cautious about German wine in general, as they suffered huge quantities of cheap and sweet German wine, such as Liebfraumilch. So, let's travel back and understand how all these started.

Wine purchase and consumption was not democratised in the UK, until the 1970's. Wine was widely enjoyed by the aristocracy and was mostly originated from Bordeaux vineyards. New fashions, cosmopolitan spirit and the trend of going to holidays abroad became very popular and consumers were chasing after not that ordinary beverages. At the same time, New World of wine made its appearance, with countries such as Australia and New Zealand making and promoting their wines in a much simpler way, letting the consumers leave their lexicons aside, in order to understand a wine-label. The consumer's palette is moving away from the cheap, semi-sweet wines and is craving more complex and fine tastes. Now, combine all these with the 1971 German Wine law- mass production promotion and perplexing labels- and you have a recipe of disaster!

                                                German vineyards overlooking river Rhine        

Nowadays, German dry Riesling is in a much better place but still many changes have to be made. There is an immediate need to enter more restaurants, wine bars and pubs, this is the ideal place for wine lovers to get acquainted with this fine wine. Still, we all know how much fun it is to share our experiences with friends or even take a picture of  a bottle and share it in the social media. This is why it is so important to make wine labels much nice and neat and avoid all the drama of a consumer breaking his tongue, during the effort of explaining this "just out-of-this-world wine I had the other day".

 So, here we are talking to ourselves about German Riesling once again! What I would be very fascinated to do is to take my wine passionate friends to a German Riesling tasting that would be open to the public, taking place at interesting local areas, where they could learn a lot about Riesling but also have a memorable evening. Wine is fun, not just studying! Let's remember it.