Great winemakers have a tremendous depth of wine knowledge in addition to their understanding of the winemaking process. The more you know about finished wines the wines you make will be.
Why? It’s nearly impossible for a winemaker to make a subtle and complex wine if he/she can’t describe or even pick out subtleties in what they drink. Once you know how to pick out the nuances of a great wine you can start hone your winemaking skills to draw out those characteristics out in your own wines.
Many of us put a lot of effort into studying the winemaking process, as we should. But we mustn’t forget to study the finished product itself. What I mean is that we need to be developing our palate to pick out nuances as well as expanding our understanding of tasting and evaluating wines.
Even if you’ve been at this for a while chances are there’s still a lot for you to learn. I know I’ve got a lot to learn. Over the years, however, I’ve found one resource that has broadened my knowledge of wine more than any other. It’s not some stuffy textbook or a video hosted by an “I’m smarter and better than you” wine expert.
My Number One Wine Resource
The resource I’m referring to is Wine for Normal People Radio, a podcast hosted by Elizabeth Schneider (@NormalWine) and M.C. Ice. Elizabeth is a certified sommelier that knows how to make wine fun and understandable.
I’ve picked out my favorite shows to share with you. Listening to them will set you on the path to becoming a better winemaker. You’ll learn how to better taste wine, develop your palate, as well as discover the impact of terroir on wines. To get you started here are my top picks.
Tasting and Terroir
1. Tasting Wine
This episode walks you through the process of tasting wine. There’s a lot to tasting wine and I’m sure you’ll be familiar with much of this but it’s still something to brush up on especially with the help of a sommelier.
A winemaker’s palate is his/her most valuable tool. Without a well developed palate you’ll have a hard time identifying the good and bad aspects of your wine. You need to be able to pick out flaws so you can learn to correct them in the next wine you make.
Ok, terroir is a big topic for sure. Elizabeth spent two episodes covering this one and you really should listen to both shows.
For winemakers terroir is key. The land and climate that your grapes grew up in can alter their flavors and aromas. The same varietal grown in two different geographic regions will have different qualities.
From time to time Wine for Normal People Radio will cover some winemaking topics specifically. Here are some great shows for winemakers.
In this show Elizabeth will take you through the entire process of how wines are made. From vineyard to bottle, it’s all here. Since most of us don’t grow our own grapes it’s helpful to understand what’s going on before we get our grapes or kits.
This is the perfect introduction to winemaking vocabulary for new winemakers. More experienced winemakers may even pick up a new term or two from this show.
Oak is often referred to as the winemaker’s spice cabinet. A whole range of flavors can be obtained through the use of oak. Take a listen and learn about what flavors oak can contribute to your wine
This is just a small selection of the many fantastic episodes of Wine for Normal People Radio. In each episode Elizabeth delves into a “grape of the week”, a great way to learn about the different grape varietals. I guarantee she’ll cover a few you’ve never heard of!
Photo by: Ben Salter