What is Wine?

Stripping it back…What is wine?

Wine is as ancient a foodstuff as they come. With winemaking artefacts dating back thousands of years, it’s safe to say that this magical liquid has been consumed time and time again by many cultures, throughout the world, over millennia. It is, at its core, grape juice that undergoes fermentation, which is yeast eating natural grape sugars, creating heat, carbon dioxide and alcohol. But what is it really, apart from fermented grape juice?

In today’s world, wine is produced in huge quantities by many different countries and by many different producers. These wines range from those at £5 per bottle to those at £5000 per bottle. It’s a fairly broad spectrum to say the least. I’ve always been curious about wine. I remember the first wine I ever tried which has since taken me on an expedition of winemaking knowledge. That wine was a bottle of cheap German rose. I didn’t enjoy it too much and I distinctly remember thinking that there must be better. That was the point where I really fell down the rabbit hole that is wine.

To me, wine is the closest thing that we have to time travel. It is a snapshot of time and a place that only happens once every year(the vintage). We drink wine with dear friends and with the closest family to celebrate key occasions. When the wine is good, we remember these occasions because of the wine, therefore instantly teleporting us back to that time. Wine is also a tool that we can use to imagine. I pick up a bottle of Australian wine for example, a wine from a region I may never have visited before and I instantly imagine what it must be like there. Are there rolling hills or mountains? Is the earth dry and scorched there or are the vineyards in lush green surrounds? What was the individual story behind the people who worked the vineyard and made the wine? The power to imagine is one of our most prized possessions and wine, I believe, helps us to accelerate that ability.

To me however, wine is primarily about people. The amount of hands that must touch the finished product is absolutely colossal and the work that goes into it is off the charts. Having been there and done it, I personally know the struggle that vine growers face each year when mother nature dictates everything. Frost alarms going off at 3am 2 weeks before harvest. Spraying the vines constantly to prevent mould from setting in. Pruning in the dead of winter in the snow to prepare the vine for next years growth. Sleeping in the winery during harvest and working 16 hour days for a month straight to turn the fruit into wine. We often don’t think about this when we buy and drink a bottle of wine. Wine isn’t manufactured, it is crafted. More importantly, it is crafted by real people, with real stories and with real passion. Without these people, we wouldn’t have our favourite drink.

So the next time you call into The Sipster, give a minutes thought to the people that made it possible and take yourself on a trip of imagination and exploration down the rabbit hole. The wine will taste better as a result.