Monthly Archives: April 2015


Wine comes from a fruit tree planted in the ground and producing grapes. So, here are all the clues we are going to need to identify a wine. It can taste fruity, earthy, flowery (presumably by having planted beside a flower bed) or vegetal (if planted next to a asparagus or bell pepper patches)!

I mean to say: Consider the ABC: Wine comes from a grape which contains 80% water. So there is very few other elements to play with. So, there is really not much need for endlessly duplicative content on the acidity of a wine, its fermentation temperature, or its upbringing. Life is simply too short to go into such trash.

I have heard someone say: ‘What I don’t understand is why we can’t have ratings that are like, but slightly more complex, than those for coffee. You learn where the bean (or grape) was grown and some info on the land; then you know something about the roast and the acidic level, the strength and so forth. Why want to know more?

No, you won’t discover an apricot or whatever you are looking for in a bottle of wine. Leave it to others to do. Maybe you only need to visit an orchard house or have a look at a farmer’s almanac to sharpen up your knowledge of flowers and veggies again.

Isn’t the secret simply to enjoy wine?


Are some wines ‘better’ than others? If so, why? And who gets to decide? Is it possible to be objective in assessing wines?

One of the aspects of the wine trade that most fascinates outsiders is the disparity in prices between ordinary and great wines. But, great wines are not to be determined by price factors.

The influence of the place where the grapes are grown seems to be paramount. Let’s try to summarize the issues in a paragraph. While terroir is a French word, it’s a concept widespread in the wine world. At the most basic level, it’s immediately apparent that the same grape varieties grown in even subtly different locations will make wines that are somewhat different, even when treated the same way in the winery.

Then there is the issue of reputation. Reputation matters a great deal in the world of wine. Our senses of taste and smell are, it seems, easily fooled. We bring a lot of expectation to bottles of wine that are supposed to be rather grand.

You may be forgotten to think that you tasted a simple wine and then a very special wine, even though it could be the same wine both times. Certainly, wines from vineyards of exalted reputation, which have a track record of making great wines (that is, terroir where grape variety and environment are perfectly matched) fetch very high prices, sometimes even irrespective of the quality of what is in the bottle.

The terms used in tasting notes are often misleading too, and it makes for telling reading. For a top wine versus an ordinary table wine, ‘A lot’ replaces ‘a little’; ‘complex’ replaces ‘simple’; and ‘balanced’ replaces ‘unbalanced’ – all because of the sight of the label.

This is about a phenomenon called ‘perceptive expectation’: a subject perceives what they have pre-perceived, and then they find it difficult to back away from that. For us humans, visual information is much more important than chemosensory information, so we tend to trust vision more. Therefore, blind tasting of great wines can often be disappointing’.

This is not to say, though, that great wines never deserve their reputation. There do exist many seriously great wines that merit, at least in part, the reverence accorded to them. The very top ‘trophy’ wines, though, do have a reputation that extends beyond what is in the bottle. You are paying for more than just an exceptional bottle of wine.

SAWi has addressed these disparities through its ‘Algorithm of Excellence’.


I wish there were a dedicated language for describing wine, one that did not rely on the artistry and creativity of writers whose comments rather belong to another world.

I know I have a lot to learn and that I can learn from just about anybody. So I go about my job, sometimes thinking to myself what a drag it is to be at this large industrial complex that claims to make wine!

And then something gets said, or a bottle gets poured, or a vista appears that allows me to alter, perhaps imperceptibly at first, the trajectory of my course through wine as I know it.
One of the great fallacies of wine blogging is that this is somehow said to be a zero sum game.

But yes, we would like to learn more about what it does for you. Let’s share this through this blog and put the spotlight on the differences between individuals in this respect, between our wine habits and perhaps how age effects it all.

There are no standards that apply. No good or bad: Just your views.


Expectations are running high amongst top wine producers to see if they have qualified for a SAWi Award. There are definitely going to be a number of new faces to see at the function.

Word has it that we are certainly in for a more than the usual number of surprises. It was established that there will be almost 60 Platinum Awards (95+points) to be handed out with more than 50 Grand Gold Awards (points between 93 and 94) which will be presented too.

The Platinum category of achievers also becomes part of the SAWi Ambassadors Club, currently representative of 31 wine cellars. This is out of a total number of wineries that runs a few hundred. It is expected that only a handful more wineries will become part in 2014.

The criteria for achievement were indeed been set very high. A wine needs a minimum of three years competition results to be considered for a SAWi rating. Without excelling above the rest with a trophy or top ten achievement, a wine will just stay part of the bigger bunch, even if a wine consistently scores 90 points, which by the way should at least be expected nowadays, otherwise why bother? Furthermore, such results must maintain its consistency over multi-years to come into contention for a SAWi Award.