So, I passed the Sommelier Exam and officially have enough knowledge to order off of a restaurant menu without breaking out in a sweat. You can call me “baby somm”.
What is great about the world of wine is you are never finished learning. I was taught by 4 Master Sommeliers (all of which were in the documentary SOMM, if you haven’t seen it, get on it) and they made it very clear that you will never know everything about wine. Even the Masters are still students.
I love educating people on wine, and a tasting room is the perfect classroom. Where else in the world can you go and learn about something then get rewarded by getting to drink? Tasting rooms my friend. Tasting rooms are incredibly intimidating but we all want to teach you. You can learn immense amounts over a glass of wine, so ask away! I haven’t heard it all but here are some that I’ve been asked quite frequently.
Frequently Asked Wine Questions (as heard in a tasting room)
1. Q: Is wine vegan?
A: In LA, this questions pops up more than in other areas but it is not a silly question by any means. Most wine is NOT vegan. To filter the wine (make it clear by taking the particles out), many winemakers use elements that are not considered vegan. Thankfully, the internet is making it easier to locate vegan wines due to dietary restrictions, so google away!
2. Q: Do the vines die in the winter?
A: The vines do not die (see Lillie’s article). They are merely hibernating and gearing up for the cold. Their nutrients are pulled down to their roots to protect themselves from frost damage. In the spring, they soak up a little sun and get ready for a new harvest!
3. Q: Do you add the fruits, spices, herbs, etc. to the wine to give it the flavor on the tasting notes?
A: This question is my favorite because we don’t add a single thing. The grapes give these characteristics all by themselves. The winemaker can manipulate the fermentation process or add a yeast that brings out the wines characteristics more but those little babies do it all on their own.
4. Q: How many grapes are in a bottle of wine?
A:Typically 500-700 depending on the grape variety. Some grapes are smaller than others. If you really think about it, depending on the price of the bottle, some grapes can be $0.25 each! The oldest winery in France broke down their grape cost and it came to $10 a grape! That’s a $5,000 bottle!
5. Q: How do I hold the glass?
A: Many people forget that wine is a living and breathing being! The more air you give it, the more aromas and tannin breakdown. If you warm it up, it can lose some key characteristics and even fall off and go bad. Always hold the glass by the stem, the lower the better. Your body heat can warm up the glass and ruin your experience with the wine. Also, you look classy doing it.
Have a grape day!