Welcome to Inquisitive Vintner, a site about winemaking and wine from the perspective of myself, a Yooper, father, psychology professor, and amateur winemaker… and my daughter, a young professional working with the UN in Switzerland who considers herself an amateur wine drinker.
My winemaking interest was kindled nine years ago. At that time, I was a couple of years past the mid-century mark in my life, deeply immersed in the mentoring process as a university psychology professor and as a father of two teenaged daughters. My only real, unique connection with wine was memories of my grandfather making it in his Upper Peninsula of Michigan basement-speakeasy and the newfound knowledge that I am of half Italian descent (a story that requires a later telling). Other than that, I began as a relatively blank-slate vintner and pursued this hobby diligently since 2005. One organization that has greatly fostered the growth of my winemaking knowledge is the Wisconsin Vintners Association, where I currently serve as Board Member, Corresponding Secretary, and editor of The Vintner’s Press.
As a scientist, I am fascinated by the alchemy of the winemaking experience. Handling something living (a grape) and turning it into something else that is living (wine) is not only thrilling, but immensely humbling. I am passionate about immersing myself in winemaking, as a science, and a winemaker, as a lifestyle. Wine, as a transformative experience, is something I believe many people, no matter your relation to wine or your level of knowledge, can appreciate.
If you’re here to read this blog, know that I will not be able to give you the answers to wine’s secrets or teach you about being a sommelier. But I hope that I can encourage you to embark on a journey of discovery that I myself have undertaken, a quest to uncover as much as possible about all things related to wine and winemaking, with a few other topics thrown in for fun and further insight.
I have been an amateur vintner’s daughter for over a decade, now. So, winemaking and wine have been a large part of my adolescent and adult life experiences. Great!- some might say (I do too).
Despite this lucky circumstance, for most of this time I have merely enjoyed drinking the free vino and observing the development of this quirky, romantic hobby my father adopted (the product of which my friends and I can thoroughly enjoy). It dawned on me slowly, as peers continued to ask questions about wine or winemaking and I could not but shake my head to say I did not know, that I probably should know more.
How is wine made? Can you grow grapes in Wisconsin? What makes those grapes different than those grown in France, or Italy, or Chile? What is tannin? What is a leg? Do legs really reveal quality of a wine? Why do I like this wine? What’s up with the color of wine? Why does this wine smells like plums and vanilla? Why does this one smell like rubbing alcohol? Do they put vanilla in the wine to get that taste? Should wine age in barrels or glass? What are tartaric crystals? How are some wines acidic? What really happened to a corked wine? What is “good wine”?
These are all questions I have been asked. For the majority of them, I shrug my shoulders and sheepishly keep my mouth shut, opening it only to gulp down more wine in shame. So I am here like many of you, to inquire and discover and experience what will be discussed!
Myself, I live in Geneva, Switzerland and work at a United Nations agency here. So, I will be able to bring a little different perspective on what is discussed and through this, we will touch on issues that share commonalities across the the globe. Feel free to reach out and suggest some interesting topics!