Which came first? Wine drinking or wine making?
Did we simply eat the fermenting grapes off the
vine or did we start cultivating grapes for fruit
and discover wine later? Secondly, although historical
records clearly indicate they came within one
day of each other, which came first; the connoisseur
or the snob? Most evidence points to the snob
being first, but snobs always say they are first.
Both can be found at most wine tastings.
Yes, you can learn a lot at a wine tasting. However,
you can learn a lot about sex in a sex education
class but I enjoyed learning it lot more on my
girlfriend’s sofa. I learned more, enjoyed
it more and seem to remember it more. I still
attended the classes, but….
Why do wine snobs and wine connoisseurs take
wine so seriously? Aside from the obvious pleasurable
effects of the alcohol, wine is the most complex
beverage known to mankind. Nothing comes even
close to the thousand plus flavors and sensations
that come in a wine glass. When you think you’ve
tried them all, there’s a new vintage out
and you get to start all over again.
When I give wine seminars, I get to talk about
history, physics, politics, chemistry, taste,
memory, psychology, sociology, agriculture, food,
geography, geology, marketing and sales. The
wine business either has a major impact on each
of these areas or has been affected by each of
these areas. I’ve had chemists and winemakers,
waiters and wine buyers, label designers and
farmers all come up after a wine talk and say “That
was fascinating. I thought I knew a lot, but
there’s so much I had no idea about!”
It’s easy to trip up wine snobs and wine
connoisseurs. Simply put any wine in a black
glass and ask them to tell you if it is a white
or a red wine. Or, give them two glasses of the
same white wine and ask them to describe them.
You will find that if you add red food color
to one glass, the descriptions will be completely
different; pear and plum and lemon as compared
to raspberry and cherry and spice. Try the wine
in a black coffee cup with your friends. It’s
harder than it first seems and a lot of fun.
So, if it is too easy to fool almost everyone,
why bother getting into wine tasting at all?
Well, learning about sex on the sofa is fun,
but you actually do learn a lot in a good sex
education class and a lot of stuff you would
never think of while on the couch. Wine is the
same; you can learn a lot sitting with friends
drinking a cheap bottle of wine, but in a formal
wine tasting with a good educator, it is amazing
how much more you can learn. It’s just
not as fun.
Wine tastings are a great way to learn more about
wine and are definitely a worthwhile experience.
However, a nice inexpensive bottle of wine out
of coffee cups sitting on a sofa with a significant
other is also a great way to learn more about
wine and is definitely a worthwhile experience.
And the lessons you learn there will be a lot
more fun than anything you would learn at a formal
tasting with a bunch of wine connoisseurs and
snobs around. You’ll remember the lessons
a lot longer, too!
Tom Cox is a wine educator from Vancouver, BC that
has taught wine seminars all over the world.