Enmeshed in cultures around the world, wine has become a cornerstone of traditional celebrations, commiserations, leisure time, travel, cooking and entertaining. For many of us, however, wine is more than an enjoyable beverage.It’s a source of passion and deep devotion to the science of oenology, and the experience of truly appreciating the delicate art of manipulating a natural process to deliver, often years later, a sensual experience that can transport, connect and enliven. If you’ve ever found yourself delivering an impassioned monologue about the history of Burgundy or getting hot under the collar debating the merits of screw tops, it’s likely wine means more to you than a tasty drop. Here are five key signs you’ve transcended the realm of a ‘lover of wine’ and are well on your way to being a wine fanatic.
1. Wine is not a beverage, it’s a lifestyle
Wine is a constant companion in your life, influencing the restaurants you frequent, the food you eat and the company you keep. Your news feed consists of the world’s top wine bloggers, you have Wine & War, The History of Wine in 100 Bottles and Read Between the Wines on rotation on your nightstand. You have the past 10 years of James Halliday Wine Companion on hand for reference, although you have your own encyclopaedic knowledge of each vintages premier drops and keep a personal record of tasting notes.
2. You actively nurture your wine lexicon and functional wine making knowledge
When it comes to varietals, pronunciation is integral to respecting the wine, it’s origin, it’s culture and it’s history. You believe the often loved, more often despised Australianism ‘Savvy B’ takes away the integrity of a global wine. You understand the difference between viticulture and viniculture, know what Baume is, how it affects fermentation and how that, in turn, presents in the palate. You’re aware not only of what chaptalization is, but the legislations surrounding it in each country, and you’re up to date on new world winemaking and the rise of biodynamic practices.
3. You can taste the terroir, and talk about it
You’ve pursued the knowledge and vocabulary to understand each varietal and its terroir, actively engaging in regular la dégustation to develop skills in isolating, identifying and articulating individual characteristics.You feel comfortable going toe to toe with a sommelier (many of whom you know on a first name basis) and swap notes with fellow wine club members to find patterns in each terroir, vintage and varietal. You can articulate mouth feel beyond dry and tannic, taste when you’re drinking wine from a cru classé and if barrique has been used for its storage. You can easily identify a petrochemical aroma, can distinguish between herbaceous and spicy and understand the role of botrytis in your sweet glass of Spätlese.
4. Your serving knowledge extends beyond ‘chilled’ and ‘room temp’
Days of ‘white wine in the fridge, red wine on the shelf’ are long behind you, with your wine now safely stored in a temperature controlled wine cabinet. You know a chardonnay served below 11 degrees will be void of it’s true depth and aromatics, while your average ‘room temperature’ red wine in Australia could see you serving 25 degree plus Bordeaux, robbing it of the delicate balance of fruit and spices. You’ve got a thermometer on hand and always hold your glassware by the stem to avoid altering the temperature with warm hands. Which leads us to glassware.
5. Glassware is almost as important as the wine
In recent years there has been an insurgence of en vogue stemless wine glasses. While you can appreciate the aesthetics, you’re staying true to your extensive stemware and will willingly step in to defend the virtues of traditional glassware. Understanding the need for a stem for ease of swirling and visual examination, that a high quality Pinot Noir glass creates balance and suppressed alcohol while the thin lip of a Bordeaux glass will expertly direct wine flow smoothly onto the tongue. You blanch at the thought of drinking sparkling from a tumbler, and when it comes to buying a wedding gift you don’t need to think twice.
If, like us, your thirst for wine knowledge is unquenchable, why not continue your reading by selecting one of the great books in our blog Best Books for Learning About Wine.