In college I had a difficult time adopting an ideology. Was I a materialist, a structuralist, a post modernist? Where would I fit in? What was my “ist”? I hated the idea of committing to one belief to evaluate the world around me. The problem is I do not believe in one answer. There is not one way to look at the world or to complete a task. I could not spend my days defending one point of view.
In winemaking, there are many different points of view. Winemaking is physical and tangible so these different ideas manifest in a finished product/wine. When I started making wine I believed there was a specific way wine is made. I mistakenly thought that over centuries of experimentation and refinement humanity had perfected winemaking methods. Like a baby in a swimming pool, I was young and still getting my bearings. After my initial shock wore off, I began to understand the many different approaches and beliefs of winemaking.
Everyone makes wine a little differently. However, in these different methods there are similarities that can be grouped together to form a style. Don’t worry I will write about these different styles in future posts. But why is any of this important? How does a different method impact the wine drinker?
I am here to tell you, not all wines are equal.
Take a step back and begin with the fundamentals. The very first thing I think about when drinking wine is; do I like it? Sometimes it can take awhile to decide if you like a wine but you should know right away if you don’t like a wine. Life is short. At least you gave it a try. There are so many different wines, you are not obligated to like them all. Your taste will change and maybe it was the wrong time for you to try that wine.
If you like the wine then you might want to gather more information about it. Why or what do you like about this wine? Do you like the wine because you like the varietals of grapes that went into the bottle? Do you like the wine because of the crafty label? Do you like the region where the grapes were grown or that particular vintage? Perhaps you like the style in which that wine is made. The answer will most likely be a combination of reasons. All of these questions can be answered through further tasting research.
If you do enough research, you might find you like lots of wines. Maybe you have a favorite wine producer or maybe it is just a favorite style. By answering some of these questions you should see a pattern developing. If you are a decisive person, you will pick a style. You will be ready to take a stand, and maybe, to pick your “ist”.
Winemaker John Lyon