So much of the “social media has forever changed the wine landscape!” cheerleading (and hand-wringing) has focused on the critic and the consumer. A multitude of voices and tastes have replaced what used to be a much more top-down schematic. Which I’m all for, of course. But an equally welcome — and relatively unheralded — consequence of social media is access to actual winemakers. Whether it’s following producers on Twitter, seeing what they’re drinking thanks to Delectable, or hearing them hold forth on podcasts like I’ll Drink to That, there are unprecedented opportunities to learn about winemaking straight from the source. Along with pulling corks and cracking books, talking to winemakers is a great way to deepen your wine knowledge. A few things I’ve learned:
1. Winemakers drink a lot of Riesling.
2. As a group, they are probably the least full-of-shit people in the wine industry. I could make some dumb assumptions about working the land, knowing the value of hard work, etc., etc. accounting for this, but the truth is, I don’t know why. In any case, they’re mostly a likeable bunch.
3. “Winemaking” as one studies it in, say, a WSET class, bears very little resemblance to actual winemaking. The academic version of winemaking is an abstraction that doesn’t take into account a number of very important things, like what a winemaker does to make decent wine in a crappy vintage in order to remain solvent.
4. Winemaking is really hard work. This isn’t breaking news, but there’s something about seeing Tweeted pics of sorting tables and bottling lines early on a Sunday morning that really brings this lesson home.
But what I love most about following interesting winemakers on social is what they don’t say: their conversation is devoid of buzzwords and euphemisms–no “passion for the land” or “hand-crafted vintages” here. The phony wine mystique foisted on consumers by mediocre copywriters and flacks is stripped away. What remains is the real intrigue, a glimpse into the everyday magic of making wine for a living.