Through the Wine Glass

There are a number of books that have been published of late that have tried to democratize wine, and I’m hoping to write one soon, too. Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker, Wine. All the Time. by Marissa A. Ross, and of course Eric Asimov’s How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto all do this, and I also think it’s important to help people have fun with wine without feeling self conscious about what they know or don’t know. In my view, wine is the best lens through which to learn more about food, travel, history, geography, culture, geology — and even chemistry (ugh!). Hence the title of this missive: Through the Wine Glass. Here I hope to provide practical recommendations on what’s good to drink, share useful tidbits from what I’ve learned about wine in my Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) classes, and try to figure out what the fastest path to wine enjoyment is for those who don’t necessarily want to study themselves but just want to drink.

So writing about wine is a little tough. After all, how can you describe something to someone when they might taste something totally different when they taste it themselves? The WSET program that I’ve been going through does a really good job of objectively tying different grape varieties to different aromas and flavors, which is helpful in describing a given wine and for comparing wine grown in one place versus wine grown in another. I’ve started to think about the world in terms of climate and the influence of climate on wine, which helps me imagine what it would be like to visit. Would I need a windbreaker in northern France and an umbrella? Normally that would make me grumpy, but if I think about how cooler temperatures allow acids to remain inside the grape and fresher flavors to stick around, I can appreciate those cooler winds.

Lytton Springs Ridge Vineyards in July 2014. Definitely a happy place