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The Many Faces of Wine

by Arthur Tan, BBA 1992

I am a wine lover. I enjoy drinking the different wines because every other label has a unique story behind it. Every bottle is an adventure and has its own individual characteristics. No two bottles from different places are ever the same. To be honest and fair to whisky lovers, I do like the occasional tipple of single malt whisky. But the difference is that if today you have a Macallan 25 Years Old whisky, and you get the same type of whisky two years later, in all probability, the taste will be the same, or at least most of us can hardly tell the difference.

This is where wines are so special. The taste of one wine, is affected by so many conditions:

  1. Type and quality of grapes
  2. Age of vines
  3. Winemakers’ techniques in making the wines
  4. Ageing using stainless steel tanks or oak barrels (different oak barrels make a difference too)
  5. Weather (sunshine, rainfall, temperature, wind)
  6. Soil conditions

Figure 1:

For example, we have a French winemaker planting Cabernet Sauvignon grape and making wine in Languedoc, France. He flies to South Africa, which grows the same Cabernet Sauvignon grapes as France. Using the same techniques in France to make wines in Stellenbosch, South Africa, the weather, and soil conditions would have made the wines turned out so different! We do not have to travel that far to taste the difference. Just compare the taste of chicken between those bred in Malaysia and Singapore. And if the animal feed is adjusted, the taste changes again. Back to the topic of wines, it is because of the many possible permutations that make every bottle something to relish and look forward to. As I always tell friends (jokingly), opening a new bottle is like going on a blind date. It can be downright fun and enjoyable or simply disastrous!

While travelling along the road of wine discovery, I would recommend that whenever you taste something you like, take a photo and keep it as a memory. When you look back and see what wines you have enjoyed, you may see a pattern of what you really go for. It could be wines from a particular region globally, or it could be one type of grape varietal. And remember, you choose and decide which wines you like. Just like you choose who will be your friends and company!

Credits :
Figure 1: From

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