by Dave Williams
For the past two years or so my wine experience has been in transition. My focus has been on a selection of grapes that are relatively new to me and not the most common. I find exploring a grape variety from many locations easiest for me to grasp its message, followed by the influence of climate, terroir and wine-making style. My preferences find their way quite simply as do food pairings, without attending to the point scores assigned by the wine press.
More recently, reading Terry Theise’s two books, “Reading Between the Wines” and “What Makes Wine Worth Drinking”, has challenged my overall approach toward wine. It has prompted a transition from more of an analytical to an experiential approach reflecting on the wine’s message and “authenticity” or connection to place and people. Madeline Puckette in her newsletter, “Wine Folly”, recently compared and tasted three grocery store California Cabernet Sauvignons under $20, which indirectly reinforced the concept of “authenticity” as these were primarily what I call manufactured wines – consistent from year to year without much variation. These volume wines are composed in the winemaking process utilizing all the tools chemistry provides to produce a desired outcome. It is quite the contrast from approaching a wine to experience its message of a place and people with all the variation a vintage imbues. I equate this to the difference between quiet listening versus loudly being told.
So, if you have ever questioned what wine really means to you, I urge to pick up one or both of Theise’s books and ponder how you experience wine or how wine speaks you.