Winebird’s 4-step guide to learning about wine

** This post is taken from Winebird’s upcoming book Winebird’s VINALOGY: a beginner’s wine guide with a difference! **

Think of a bottle of wine as a person. Now think of them naked. Go on! No clothes but also, no make up and natural, unruly hair, just as nature intended. What we have here is the DNA: the raw materials that form the backbone of a person’s appearance. Sure, there are many things that can be done to tweak the way a person appears to the outside world: clothes, haircut and make up being three important examples, but we’ll never get too far away from what the DNA has produced.

This naked person analogy will help you remember the 4 main steps to follow when you want to learning about wine in more detail!

Step 1

The grape variety (or varieties) is your person, naked. It’s the DNA: the most important ingredient by far. Each grape variety has its own individual, inherent characteristics, so will instantly give you the biggest hint towards flavour, style and texture. Getting to know the major grape varieties is therefore absolutely where you should start when learning about wine.

Step 2

Next up, think about clothes. In Winebird terms, this means climate, i.e. whether the grapes were grown in a warm or cool place. Just like clothes on a person, climate is the next most important element that can affect style. In very general terms, cool = restrained & elegant, and hot = big & fruity. Why not see what I mean by comparing two wines made with the same grapes from different places? Look for cool weather regions to taste against warmer ones to start with.

Step 3

The next element to change the appearance of our ‘wine body’ is the haircut! Think pruning. Think viticulture: i.e. what happens in the vineyard. There are many things that can be done while the grapes are growing to tweak the final wine style: cutting back leaves to increase sun exposure and therefore, aid ripening is one example (this means bigger, fruiter wines). Removing excess bunches to increase quality in the remaining bunches is another! The type of soil can also have an effect on the texture of a wine. Yes, the vineyard is where you go on your wine journey after climate.

Step 4

After haircut, think make up. For our ‘wine body’, this means winemaking: i.e. what happens in the winery after grapes have been harvested. Like a make up artist working on a model, there are literally hundreds of things a winemaker can do to enhance a wine’s best features and smooth out flaws. Oak aging is one example. Adding powder to increase acidity is another. The grape variety/ies should always still be recognisable underneath the slap– just ‘enhanced’ a tad. That’s the idea anyway, although you’ll always find less classy examples daubed in make-up!

There are other elements that can influence the style of a wine such as topography, but you may well come across those while looking into steps 1-4!

It’s easy when you know how. Innit?

WB

** This post is taken from Winebird’s upcoming book Winebird’s VINALOGY: a beginner’s wine guide with a difference! **