Let’s jump straight to the grape, shall we? I found this letter particularly interesting:
Dear Sommelier Ferdinand,
“I think what you’re doing is good, explaining wine and wine drinking to newbies like me. I found this on the internet last week and was wondering if you use it to decide what to drink on a given night.
To me, the sequencing of wines helps me decide what I’m in the mood for. And I can keep track of them too! If I drink a medium red on Tuesday, I’ll then have something lighter the next day. This way, I can ensure I’m not repeating myself, and that I’m having a varied wine intake. I tried using this graphic as the basis for a “wine calendar”, but I messed up the days of the week and haven’t gotten around to reprinting it. Maybe you can give it a shot!” -Lea
Lea, thank you for writing in. Throughout my life—particularly after I took up the sommelier life—I’ve noticed people call me a contrarian. What an odd way to compliment my individuality, I know. But, I know some of those naysayers read this blog, so I’m going to address your answer in the most agreeable terms I can manage.
Personally, I find your graphic, umm… I personally think it’s very interesting to… hmmm… how do I say this…
Lea—I find your graphic offensive. It has offended me, maybe more than a roadkill watercolor. I applaud your dedication to wine and trying new wine. But… a calendar, Lea? How are you to capture the spontaneity of bottled grapes when you have systematized it? Are you an artificial intelligence? Did you initially handwrite your letter using a system of 1s and 0s?
If you wish for a diverse wine selection, why not purchase a variety of wines? It can be that simple, I promise you. What we are trying to do is appreciate the bounties of our Earth, and I’m afraid you turn it black and white; you drain it of flavor when you have assigned it a day of the week for consumption. Wine must be presented to you from the heart—not an assembly line.
Similarly, we must discuss the graphic you’ve sent in. Sure, it categorizes wines—which I suppose can be useful for “newbies”, but it should not guide any decisions regarding consumption. That system, with its orderly, white-to-violet gradient, is only one of many ways to categorize wines (if we feel the need to categorize in the first place). For instance, where is the image categorizing wines by their origin, or their season of harvest—or length of time spent developing in the bottle?
Pardon my objections, Lea; I only wish to illustrate the futility of the category. It is a misguided impulse, and I hope as you consume more wine, your senses extend beyond the numbers. See, wine contains multitudes; rich layers that blend into one another and mesmerize the palate. It should be pursued as one pursues a novel, not a jigsaw puzzle.
Dear, you are on the right track, and I know you’re destined to have a beautiful palate. Consider a wholesome, sensory approach next time and you will be rewarded. Trust me as I say this, and please do write in to let me know if I’ve changed your perspective.
See, everyone? I can be agreeable every now and then!
-Sommelier Ferdinand. 20.10.21