I recently reread one of my favorite wine books, Real Wine by Patrick Matthews. It’s uncommonly well written and one of those truly enjoyable reads that holds up the second time around.
Matthews wrote this about five years ago, yet most of the information seems as current and ahead of the curve today. In it, he surveys wine from vineyard planting and grape growing to vinification and wine selling, telling stories of characters past and present generally possessed by their passion for wine.
The subject, naturally enough, is real wine. Which Matthews defines on p. 167 as “one that tells a truthful story about its growing conditions, and whose concentration of colour, flavor and texture is determined in the vineyard, not the winery.”
Bascially, real wine is authentic to its site, grapes, and vintage. Why else label wine by any of these attributes if we don’t accept the uniqueness that each will provide?
And that’s not code for spoiled, rotten, acidic wine. No, Matthews specifically points out that real wine tastes better. And for all I know, it’s true.
Perhaps the most exciting geek content in this book is that about French soil scientist Claude Bourguignon and the vine’s uptake of soil minerals, transmitting the flavor of the soil to the grape.
That’s a common notion in wine marketing, but apparently not so with the scientists I’ve come across. Yet here I found for the first time a description of soil organisms chelating minerals into forms usable by grape vines. This is one reason Bourguignon promotes farming practices that encourage living soils.
Real Wine is the book that first got me excited about soils and wine, but it definitely has more to offer than just technical stuff. Matthews is a wine lover and journalist, and it shows in his writing. You should read this book.