Wine has been consumed throughout all the recorded history. Wine lovers are known for their passionate curiosity. If you really want to learn about wine, you need to drink experimentally. Curiosity results in a much deeper enjoyment and association with what is in the glass.
Da Vinci thought that man’s senses were the gateway to the soul and we should approach life like the miracle that it is. Da Vinci was well-known for looking at objects from different perspectives. An exciting way to intensify your experience with wine is to take a well thought-out approach to tasting it.
Blind wine tasting parties with other wine lovers are great fun. Taste the wine, make notes, choose favourites and discuss the results. The exercise with wine will bolster an understanding of wine and help to decide on your own preferences.
Wine making has been around for thousands of years, and it all starts with the fruit. Most amazingly is that nature provides almost everything that is needed to make still wine and each wine is unique. The person engaged in wine making is referred to as a winemaker or vintner and the science of wine making is known as oenology.
The process for making white wine and red wine is basically the same. The steps of wine making include:
Sherry and port producers from Spain and Portugal developed the Solera (Spanish for “floor”) system, which promotes oxidation during the aging process. Barrels of wine are stacked on top of each other, with the youngest wines on top and the older wines at the bottom.
Up to thirty percent will be drawn from the bottom barrels, and the bottom barrels will be filled up with the wine from the levels above them, and those barrels will be topped up with the wine of the levels above them. The top barrels will be topped up with the new harvest’s wine.
If you should stack eight rows of barrels, and you draw twenty-five percent of wine from the bottom barrels each year, the Solera system will produce wines of an average age of eight after ten years of production. The Solera system produces wines of a consistent quality.
The system is time-consuming and the winemaker can only draw off a certain amount of wine each year. These wines rarely indicate an age on the bottle, but they can contain elements that are well over 100 years of age. In the southern parts of Spain, patrons will order sherry more by name than by brand: fino, amontillado or una Manzanilla. Sherry is also often the first drink of the day in Spain.
Fortified wine is a wine with a minimum of 16% alcohol by volume and a maximum of 24% alcohol by volume. Fortified wines are produced by the fermentation of rice, honey, grapes or berries. Fortified wines can also be obtained by the addition of dextrose sugar, cane and beet. Brandy from the same type of rice, honey, berry, fruit or grape is permitted to be added. The regulations of the United States are very specific on fortified wines.
Unfortified wines typically contain 16% or less alcohol by volume. Unfortified wines are made by the fermentation of grapes. Other fruits, berries, rice, or honey is also used for the making of unfortified wines. Winemakers have to comply with the regulations and the addition of pure cane, beet, dextrose sugar or pure brandy should be from the same type that is contained in the base wine.
No winemaker is the same. Winemakers, who became famous for the quality of their wines and their mastery of particular varieties and styles, include:
One would assume that winemakers mostly enjoy their own wines. Gavin Chanin, winemaker at Price Chanin Vineyards and Chanin Wine Company California, was asked what he preferred drinking. He said:
“To be honest, I don’t drink my own wine very often. I taste it a lot, but I am usually way too critical to sit down and enjoy a glass of my own wine. I liken it to an author sitting down and reading his own books. So what do I drink? It is very important for me to keep an open mind and taste wine from all over. Right now I am drinking a lot of Italian wines, Burgundy, and Sonoma Pinots.”