My friend Grant Dickson owner of the wonderful FermentAsian in Tanunda wrote a typically eloquent and verbose post on Facebook recently (you can read it here) on the comeback and change in Chardonnay and the perception of Chardonnay in the minds of his clientele. His comment that many of his diners state they, “Don’t like big, fat, buttery, over oaked Chardonnay” really highlights why our job as not just wine servers or producers but as wine educators is so important. His point is that Chardonnay as a wine style has evolved and that the styles from 15-20 years ago are virtually gone from the wine scene. This is true of many styles across the whole wine spectrum. I come across this type of wine prejudice almost every day in the cellar door with Riesling for example and the pre-conceived idea that Riesling is sweet and particularly with Merlot, that it is a light style wine with little interest. Both of these prejudices are quite common and more importantly completely wrong. Which begs the question, “Where do these prejudices come from?”. My own observations over many years and not through any scientific method by any stretch is that in general it seems most peoples understanding of what a particular wine style is or is not comes from the first time they try it. It isn’t unreasonable for the first experience with a particular variety or style to fix in the mind of the wine novice that this is what that style is. But as we in the industry know it is difficult and usually wrong to through a blanket over an entire variety and say “This is what this is.”
Lucky for you there is a very easy and fun way to increase your wine knowledge, wine tasting. But there is a caveat, you must be open minded! Visiting cellar doors and wine tasting with family and friends can be both a fun and educational experience. Not only do you get to taste great wines and learn more about them usually for free, but you also get to experience new varieties and see how old ones have changed. Cellar door staff are here to not just sell wine but to educate as well. So next time you go wine tasting, ask questions, try something different. Wine makers put a lot of hard work and effort into each of their wines, do them and yourself a favour and give them a try. You never know, you might find a new favourite.
Until next time, salut!