When I started editing the blog for City Vino, years ago, I knew next-to-nothing about wine, except, maybe, the difference between dry and sweet.
Over the years I’ve been reading these weekly blogs, I’ve learned a lot, and dear reader, I hope you have too, because that’s the point and purpose of them: To share knowledge about wines—everything from what effect the make-up of the soil has, to what grapes make which wines, to the impact leaving the skin on or taking the skin off makes, to which wines pair with what foods, and more.
Noted Santa Barbara, CA, winemaker Wes Hagen says that “the most profound impact of soil on a vineyard is vigor. While soils may also impact disease (from pests, bacteria, or virus), grapeskin thickness, erosive potential, heat reflection (especially if the topsoil is stony); I will argue that vigor is the primary consideration of how dirt influences the vine, and thereby, the wine.” This is something I’d never thought about. Dirt is dirt, and if you plant something in it, that something grows. Simple, right? But there’s a whole science to it, and knowing which grapes to plant in which soil—and in which climate—yields the wines you find on City Vino’s shelves and enjoy in your glasses.
As for which grapes make up which wines, in the beginning, I thought white grapes made white wine, and red grapes made red wine. Simple, right? And, to an extent right. But also, as I learned while reading the blogs, wrong. And it never occurred to me that grapes were blended to make wines. (I don’t’ know why it hadn’t; maybe because I hadn’t given it much thought.) I had no idea that Pinot Noir grapes blended with Chardonnay grapes gave us Champagne! And all the specific percentages of grapes combined yield different wines. If you read these blogs each week you know this.
And, you’d know that without contact with grape skins, all wines would be white, even those made from the darkest-colored grapes. That’s because grape juice is pretty much all a sort of pale yellow, or greenish liquid. So, winemakers who want red wines, make sure there is plenty of contact with the skins, because those skins contain natural pigmentation. Because grape skins come in so many colors, a wide range of their pigments can be used, giving you the spectrum of colors, you see on the shelves in City Vino.
Red wines go with red meat; white wines go with fish. That is all I “knew” about wine, when I started reading the blogs. Not much knowledge there. (If, at this point, you’re asking why I was invited to edit the blogs, let me assure you it was NOT because of my wine credentials! It was because of my knowledge of the English language and my background as editor/writer and managing editor for a couple of magazines.) Well, pairing wines with foods is subjective, but I’ve learned a bit from my reading. My rudimentary knowledge isn’t wrong. It isn’t right, either. Instead, a stronger emphasis needs to be placed on the weigh, or body of both food and wine. In other words, heavy foods pair best with fuller-bodied wines, while light dishes go better with lighter wines. Simple, right?
It is, if you read—really read—these weekly blogs and absorb the information they are meant to share. If you do, you’ll not just enjoy the wine you’re drinking. You’ll understand it, too.
I’ve learned so much about wine since I started reading, and so much more than I’ve touched on here! I’m looking forward to reading, and learning from, next week’s blog. I hope you are too!