The Nose Knows = What is Oenophilia?

My knowledge of wine is limited. For limited read paltry knowledge.  That said I have a connection to people who do know about and write about wine.  What’s a wine specialist called? They have the funniest name. It’s oenophile. (/ˈiːnəfaɪl/) (Truly.) They are lovers, aficionados, and connoisseurs of wine.  And guess what? Men dominate the whole field.  They collect, appreciate and enjoy wines as hobbyists or some are professional vintners, sommeliers and wine merchants. The professionals taste and grade wines for a living. This whole specialty falls under the name of oenophilia (pronounced /ˌiːnɵˈfɪliə/ EE-no-FIL-ee-ə) The o is silent.  There are universities that have BS and MS degrees in Oenology – the science and study of wine and all aspects of wine making.  Check out: and for anyone who has more than a passing interest in the subject of wine here’s a wine book list from UC Davis in California, where one can study wine making and all that oenophilia. Thank you, Wikipedia Retrieved September 28, 2010.

There is also a Master of Wine designation, which is a non-academic designation. The Institute of the Masters of Wine of the United Kingdom issues this title, after a two-year study and written exams. Once this title was only granted to people in the UK, but since about 1990 this MW expanded to people from all over the world.  There are only 280 Masters of Wine worldwide.  The organization is dedicated to promoting an understanding and appreciation of wine; maintain high standards in the wine industry and enhance personal and professional goals within the wine industry. Retrieved September 28, 2010.

A Day at a Winery or How to Taste Wine

In 2006 I went on my first wine tasting with Sabina, my niece, to the Cannon River Winery. I picked this winery because I knew it was in a beautiful area that would be fun for a European traveler to visit.  Little did I know how much I would learn that day.  It was a perfect Fall day. (The winery is owned and run by Vincent Negret and family.) We were lucky enough to arrive when the winemaker, Mr. Negret was available.  Sabina was impressed with how clean the winery was kept.  She commented on that when we saw the giant vats.  Mr. Negret came from South America and from a long line of winemakers.  When we tried the wines, I grabbed my glass by the goblet.  Sabina looked askance at me and said, “Only the Queen of the Netherlands holds her glass like that.” (Oops.) It supposed to be held by the stem and some serious wine people hold the glass by the base.  Oh, was I embarrassed, but then had to laugh at my goofy ignorance.  (The Queen and me! Tcha!) The time went by very quickly and we enjoyed sampling all the wines.

Minnesota has some hardy grapes that the University has been working with to create a flavorful wine. From what I tasted the results seemed to show promise.

The congenial owner was proud to be serving someone who knew something more than the average wine shopper. That was Sabina, obviously, the food and wine writer.  I listened to the two devotees talk about wine subtleties, tastes, blends of grapes and the quality of Minnesota wines.  Oh, and I did learn to properly taste the wine.

First smell it by sticking your nose in the glass. Then sip the wine and roll it around by breathing in through puckered lips. You wind up making a sound similar to sucking the last of the soda through a straw. (Like a kid, only a big kid) This technique releases the flavors.  You know, then you actually taste the descriptions you find from writers and critics in articles about wines and those jaunty blurbs on wine bottles.

In the end, we bought several bottles of wine. Sabina even took a bottle of apple wine home.  I believe it was well liked.  Our wine spree finished, we headed off into the farmland.  Faulty navigation and a left turn instead of right took us down a sunny picturesque road. There we saw a bald eagle not ten feet away from the car near the road.  It was a spectacular sight and one of those moments in my life that I am not likely to forget.  There are so many things to appreciate and do in Minnesota.

Enjoy a nice autumn day and take a ride in the country.

About kunstkitchen

Visual artist and writer hunting words, languages, visions, and insight in my kitchen - connecting Art (Kunst) and culture and slow food cooking. Credits: Do not own a microwave oven and never have. Do not own a food processor. Chopped veggies in a Zen monastery for a weekend. (Seriously) Classically trained artist. Paint and draw with traditional materials. Live in the Northland where it's six months of winter. Appreciate the little things in life. Sharing food and art experiences and the lessons that my talented and generous friends have given me.
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