As Nick’s brother who is interested in working in the new and exciting family business, I am eager to learn about all things wine. These blogs will follow along as I start the education process from scratch, and hopefully they will be relatable for those of you who are fellow newcomers to the wine scene. Whether you are just interested in having a bit of knowledge for your next trip to your local wine shop or you want a few tidbits to impress your peers , hopefully I can make wine a little less intimidating and a bit more interesting.
The Study of Wine and what it Encompasses
As my wine studies progress, I am realizing that there is so much more to wine than just the drinking aspect. Sure, enjoying a glass or two and understanding where it comes from and how it was made is the priority for most, but there are so much more that has had an impact on that glass. The wine you may drink tonight is affected by so many external forces. So whether you are intrigued by religion, politics, architecture, biology, current social trends, you name it, wine touches on so much.
How History and Politics Play a Role
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of wine to look at is just how much of a role politics had in shaping what it is today. For example, in an attempt to impress visitors from around the world with only the best French wine, Napoleon created the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, ranking the wines of that region. Those rankings shaped the Bordeaux wine world, and although many believe it is outdated, still play a crucial role in indicating some of the best French wines.
Grafting – which is the technical term for growing two plants together – Combining, or grafting, of two different types of vines to create a singular vine with certain advantages is very common throughout the wine world, but its popularity increased in the mid 1800s. Europeans had been experimenting with American grape vines, not knowing that they had actually brought over a devastating insect that causes phylloxera, resulting in terrible damage to the vineyards. As a result, grafting American rootstalk (which were resistant to phylloxera) onto the bottom of European grape vines became a commonplace, and continues to be today.
Engineering, Biology, and so Much More!
For those interested in engineering and technology, modern wine vineyards are becoming more impressive and precise with each day. From state of the art stainless steel tanks, to giant mechanic harvesters, even drones that fly over the grapes to check for damage, many vineyard owners are quite up to date. Biologists can learn about phylloxera, how natural yeasts affect development and flavors of grapes, or how wineries in Oregon can best keep robins and cedar waxwings from affecting the grapes without harming the birds themselves.
The subjects within wine are seemingly endless, and make the subject that much more intriguing. While studying about famous varietals and regions, you have the possibility to learn about all that goes into winemaking, which is never just the grapes. So get sidetracked during your studies and read about how architecture is used in vineyard making or why many new-world wine countries are switching from cork to twist-off caps. So grab a book, head to Youtube, or open up a Podcast, and don’t forget to pour a glass for all your hard work!