Wine Knowledge and Wine Wisdom | February 2018
Recently, I was talking to a good friend who has been selling wine and cheese for more than 40 years (full disclosure: he is also responsible for getting me interested in making wine). As we discussed the various wines he has tried, I realized, “Wow, Mike, you know so much about wine!” He was flattered by my compliment and replied, “Dave, while I know about wines, you know about wine.” I have long believed that there is a difference between wine knowledge and wine wisdom. There are folks who have tasted 10 times the wines I have and can recite vintage, varietal, score and commentary ad finitum; that’s a lot of knowledge. However, knowing and making wine, along with years of creating and crafting, has given me insight that one might call wisdom.
It’s important (and enjoyable) to go wine tasting with your friends and try new wines from new regions and broaden your horizons. It’s educational and fun to join an organized wine club and systematically learn about wines in a group and get opinions and insights from others. The proliferation of wine bars in recent years has been an amazing asset for wine drinkers and wine makers alike: never before have we had such access to such a wide selection of wines from around the globe! The availability of information on the internet is yet another avenue to gather information and study all facets of wines. Truly, this is a golden age for wine knowledge.
At Talbott, harvest is over, the wines are finishing their malolactic fermentation, and starting their journey of élevage (detailed in our May 2017 newsletter). These days, we wander the winery armed with only glasses and a wine thief (a tool used to draw samples), and taste the barrels to “get to know” the wines, seeing how they are changing and evolving. We have been doing this for about a month and it’s fascinating to see our new set of “children” start to develop their personalities and character. The Sleepy Hollow Vineyard displays an amazing variety of flavors and complexity across its clonal and varietal selections. Gaining some insight, or wisdom, into the wines requires paying attention to the nuances that develop slowly over time first in the vineyard and then in the winery. This is the nature of wine wisdom: getting a better understanding of the behavior of our wines.
How will they age? What will they be like in 3-5 years? When should I enjoy it, and what should I pair it with? For all of these questions, there are answers based on knowledge and answers based on wisdom. The joy of drinking wine throughout your lifetime is learning about these dimensions and gaining a deeper appreciation of just how beautiful the results can be.
David Coventry, Winemaker