We all enjoy exploring our interests in wine, hopefully expanding our knowledge and awareness of wine in the process. Whether it’s settling in to our newest “favorite wine” or seeking out new producers or grapes, our ever-changing journey along the “vineyard trail” is marked with adventure and triumphs.
Wine has many spheres of influence along the vineyard trail. Each glass of wine that we enjoy is the end-product of numerous components that come together in a unique manner to satisfy our ethereal sense of pleasure.
These components are pure magic. At times they are purely visceral; at other times, highly subliminal. It depends on our willingness to be seduced and the skill of the magician at hand.
The spheres of influence that impact our visceral perception of wine are wide-ranging. They include: 1) the esoteric factors that winemakers consider in producing your glass of wine, from the terroir selected to the fermentation and aging processes utilized, each affects the body and balance of the wine; 2) the aroma and flavor components of your glass of wine and 3) the subjective art of pairing wine with food.
The highly subliminal spheres of influence that impact our enjoyment of wine are numerous. They include: 1) the opinion expressed by a wine critic that shows up in the press or on a wine shelf talker; 2) the decision of an importer and/or distributor to purchase, and promote, one particular wine and not another; 3) the lottery that takes place when retail wine shops must decide which wines to display on their shelves and 4) the pervasiveness of social media with its influence on the public’s wine preferences.
As we experience each sip of wine from a wine glass, a parade of influencers permeates our senses.
The first sip is visceral. It carries the signature of the winemaker, who crafted his or her wine to please your palate. As the wine arouses your taste buds, it relates its heritage. The influence of the indigenous soil, climate and sun combine to create a distinct and unique perception of the wine.
The second sip is less visceral, leaning towards the subliminal. It may whisper of the long journey and the many hands the wine passed through to arrive at this pivotal moment in its life. The winemaker, whose wine-stained hands crushed the grapes, aged the fermented juice and bottled it; the importer, who most likely traveled many miles to the winery to sample the wine; and the marketing agent, who crafted the compelling verbiage to tempt you.
The third sip is highly subliminal. It speaks volumes of the point-of-sale factors that may have influenced your decision to fork over the cash for the wine. It may have been the “cute” animal on the label, the compelling, ethereal description of the wine offered by the wine shop salesperson, or the seductive “Special Sale” sticker that lured you to the wine in the first place.
By the fourth sip your palate (and your brain) is begging you to hit the Pause button. But before you kill too many brain cells, you refresh your impressions of the wine and Tweet them to your Followers. Alas, this may have been a mistake. You have amassed a merry band of wine compatriots and all too soon you are barraged with comments by those who wish to share their opinion of the wine, those who feel compelled to recommend similar wines and those who want you to sign up for their wine blog.
You wisely put down your smartphone and savor the final drops from the bottle. You realize that each bottle of wine is a living, breathing organism, with a storied history and a unique personality. You look forward to immersing yourself in a new lifestory when you open the next bottle. As The Lovin’ Spoonful sang: “Do you believe in magic?”
Nick Antonaccio is a 40-year Pleasantville resident. For over 25 years he has conducted numerous wine tastings and lectures. Nick is a member of the Wine Media Guild of wine writers. He also offers personalized wine tastings and wine travel services. Nick’s credo: continuous experimenting results in instinctive behavior. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sharingwine.