“Why do you love wine so much?”

Someone recently asked me why I love wine so much and it got me thinking. Why do I love wine?

I mean lots of people ‘love’ wine but Lily and I have made it our careers. Why? I mean, it’s just a drink. I adore beer, I’m partial to a bit of rum and I have a new-found affection for gin but I don’t have the same admiration for them as I do for wine.

Tomorrow will see me take my love of wine to another level as I will be boarding a plane to Canada to start working with Luckett Vineyards in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. My infatuation with this drink is enabling me move to a different continent to teach others about wine and also enrich my own knowledge.

So, back to the original question, why do I love it?

There are so many reasons. I personally am amazed by the fact that wine can vary so much depending on weather. I was recently at the RAW Wine fair and tasted two bottles from Clos Marfisi, a vineyard in Corsica run by Matthieu Marfisi. Here I tried his Ravagnola and Gritole. Both wines were made in 2015 from the Nielluccio grape (also known as Sangiovese) but one was made from grapes on the north facing side of his vineyard and the other from the south facing side. They tasted completely different.

Each wine had different essences to them and the qualities were just so contrasting. I absolutely love how the same grape can taste so different, even when produced by the same person in such close proximity. Producing wine is such a time consuming process and can be a huge gamble, but people carry on taking the time to make it and they are constantly adapting to changes in the environment. It’s this dedication and attention to the whole process that makes me applaud the people who take the time to produce wine.

When I have a really good bottle of wine, like a bottle that isn’t the easiest to come by, I almost get sad. I recently opened up a Louis Jadot 2008 Pommard. It was such a joy to drink but with every sip I felt sad because it was another sip towards the end of the bottle and, when the bottle was finished, it meant there was one less token of the year 2008 in Burgundy.

When drinking a bottle, I love to know the vintage year because I can reminisce and remember what I was doing that time. Wine is a living thing and it evolves every day. I was a completely different person in 2008 just like the Pommard was a completely different wine – I was a young, obnoxious teenager, trying to get served in off licenses and talk to girls (failing miserably at both). The Pommard will have been a young Pinot Noir, yet to mature/evolve into the wine that I opened up a couple of weeks ago. The same can be said for places.

Yesterday I saw a bottle of wine and in big letters the label read ‘Tikves’, I was completely drawn to it simply because it reminded me of when I was on holiday in Ohrid, Macedonia. Tikves is a region of Macedonia known for producing wine. Whilst looking at the bottle my mind took me back to exploring Ohrid, having trout soup for breakfast and playing with dogs who we affectionately nicknamed Bobby & Opie (a Sons of Anarchy reference), trying to find their owners and then realising that they were strays.

I love how wine takes on elements and the essence (terroir) of an area. This alcoholic beverage is much more than a tool to get pissed with. It is a representation of a place. That’s why winemakers in the ‘Old World’ label their wines by village or town. When you open a bottle of Vouvray you aren’t simply drinking Chenin Blanc, you are drinking a representation of the village of Vouvray because to simply call it Chenin Blanc would be doing the village a disservice.

An Oregon Pinot Noir bursts with vanilla flavours because of the oak barrels it is matured in; whereas an Okanagan Pinot Noir from British Columbia, Canada that’s been matured in concrete tastes completely different. Both brilliant but totally different.

Wine embodies everything I love about socialising. You share a bottle of wine, unlike most beers where you have it to yourself. You top your glasses up and chat over a bottle of wine. It’s just special.

I remember when Lily and I worked together in a job unrelated to wine and had to work on Christmas Eve. We finished early, went to the pub and shared a bottle (or two) of Malbec before catching our respective trains back up north. If it wasn’t for socialising that day over several glasses of Malbec, there’s a chance that this website wouldn’t exist.

And that, my friends, is pretty much why I love wine.

– James

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