During wine conversations, I am less and less asked questions about “…what wine should I buy”. Actually, the wine question people inquire most frequently about is recently evolving to be more along the lines of – I paraphrase – “…how can I come by a better understanding of the wines”.
A great man of Italian wine once told me his summary advice based upon a lifetime in wine. One needed to do only three things, he’d said, to really understand wine:
Taste Taste Taste
Now, allow me to point out the not so obvious subtlety of that little antiphon:
As I’m sure you’ve construed by its word repetition, Taste Taste Taste, taken as a phrase, suggests the value of tasting wine frequently and broadly. To do so, of course, is the fundamentally important step in knowing your vino.
But, taken word by word, Taste Taste Taste also quietly implies a triplet of perspectives. Let’s look at it another way with word cues to highlight the point:
Taste: local tradition, culture, people, food, history, community
Taste: earth (place), soil, varietal, microclimate, altitude, exposure
Taste: actual taste, i.e., aroma, color, touch, finish or aftertaste
The message is this: Even a little effort to follow characteristics of place and tradition can deepen one’s understanding and impressions of both the wine and its taste profile.
Before opening a bottle of wine from a new producer or region, you may like to spend 15 minutes research time drilling down on a couple of the word cues above. Good Internet resources (read: fast, easy access) are producer web sites and official regional identity / travel / tourism pages. Many sites have options to read in English, in fact, I’d say an English option is the norm these days and not the exception.
Give it a try. Over the long haul, I am confident that you will not only “…get to know the wines better”, but will begin to appreciate…experience…something about taste and wine not much reflected in the professional wine media: emotion, soul, spirituality.
Thank you for visiting Vintrospective -> An Italian Wine Blog during 2009. Best Wishes to All for a Happy New Year 2010. Don’t forget: Taste Taste Taste 😉