I’ve mentioned it here before. I love to travel. I explore the world for various reasons, but mainly to be exposed to different cultures. I’m culturally curious and you know what? Learning about wine partly satisfies this curiosity.
For me, drinking wine isn’t solely about taking in the aroma and flavour. That’s why you’ll never see me write just a wine review here. There will always be a story when I talk about a particular wine in great detail.
What fascinates me is the history and the culture behind every wine, from where and how it’s made, why it’s made that way to the bottle and the label. There’s a story behind everything when it comes to wine.
My WSET teacher recently returned from Spain and Portugal and he shared with us photos of their wine regions. I loved hearing the stories, some of which were relayed to him by the the owners or winemakers of the quintas and bodegas (what wineries are called in Portuguese and Spanish, respectively).
It was most fitting then that we covered the Spain, Portugal and fortified wines chapters in our book this week. I like Sherry and Port, but I do have limited experience with fortified wines. During class, what excited me most wasn’t the tasting part, it was learning about the history of Port and Sherry.
Port, particularly. Why? Because the English had a lot to do with its creation! It all started in the late 17th century when England and France weren’t getting along. The English couldn’t get wine from the French, so they went to the Portuguese for it instead. The sea journey from Portugal to England was long though and the wine would often spoil. How did the Brits address this problem? By adding brandy to stabilize it. Now, I just gave you the History of Port for Dummies summary. But you get the idea, right? Wine is intertwined with and influenced by history and culture so much!
Oh, you know what else I learned in class? You’re not supposed to serve port to someone else. Tradition dictates that you pour the wine yourself and pass the bottle/decanter to your left without it touching the table. I can’t tell you why at this time, but for sure there’s an explanation for it and I will let you know when I find out.
The aroma and tastiness is what got me interested in wine, and as my interest grew, I started appreciating it more. When I drink wine, I’m drinking the history, the land, and the culture. Knowing what went into making it, how it came to be, and why it tastes a certain way, essentially the story, that’s what keeps me intrigued and that’s why I drink wine.
Now I ask you, why do you like drinking wine?