A chat with a Sommelier over a glass of wine

What is in a glass of wine? It is either white or red, sometimes rose and if occasion calls for it a Champagne flute. Some sweet and sour and the rest just sour with a punch.

Yet for connoisseurs of wine, it a whole new world with unique flavours from places they come from, be it Normandy in France or even Denmark. When you pose the same question to a Sommelier who has made wine his lifeline, you not only get a lecture on different kinds of wine on earth but also philosophy behind it. Well at least that is what I learnt from Martin Oerun, a sommelier I met in Denmark.

Working with wines for over 15 years, Oerun says wines, or rather the grapes from, are whimsical. “That is why no wine tastes the same for two different people,” he said. Depending on your mood that day, what is sweet for you might be a little sour the next time. “Each wine has unique flavour. But they contribute only 2 per cent to the actual taste which we perceive as sweet and sour,” he said. The rest is based on people’s perception and that keeps changing each time you have a glass.

Putting that aside, Oeran said, learning about wines itself is a never ending journey. Oerun started working in vineyards in France when he was only 15. He began his journey as an errand boy picking grapes. The smell of ripe grapes and moist soil makes him feel alive, he says. It is like a drug that never wears off. He has been working in hospitality industry for over a decade after finishing a training to become a sommelier in Copenhagen. “But I miss those days,” he says.  It is something that makes him yearn even now. “If given a chance I love to work in vineyards,” he added. You know he is looking back on the days when he was a boy picking grapes. 

France, Italy and Spain are the well-known names when you think of wine be it Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Champagne. French wines are dry while Italians love their wine sweet and fruity as it goes with range of Italian food. Spaniards are known for innovation in the area. If you remember, blue wine that made headlines few months back was created in Spain. The recent entrant in wine-making business in Denmark. According to Oerun Denmark is emerging as one of the wine producing countries in Europe thanks to global warming.

Wine grapes are usually grown in temperate regions. But regions like Denmark that are usually cold are now becoming suitable for growing wine grapes due to rising temperature. But it is not as easy. Denmark wines use grapes called Rondo, a hybrid from Germany that are designed to withstand the cold in Denmark. Growing period of these grapes is short and grapes are harvested when temperature reaches 10 C. For wine grapes in Italy, Spain or France, harvesting is done as late as possible to get the best out of grapes.

There are non-alcoholic wines too. The one I tasted was Raumland, non-alcoholic sparkling wine from Germany. I did not know what to expect when I tasted it. How can a wine be without alcohol? Surprisingly, it was sweet with a punch. I loved it. When I told Susanne Jensen, who helps out Oerun now and then, she immediately added it to our dinner menu. Oerun told me that even non-alcoholic wines are made with alcohol but the alcohol is then extracted making it sweet.

Apparently the demand for alcohol-free wines are going up as many teetotalers and people with health-issues turn to them. According to a report, these wines have only one-third sugar compared to its alcoholic counterparts.

Though number of wine producing countries is on the rise including India. As you see, wine varieties are going up as well. But Oerun feels the quality is dropping. “Drinking wine has become trendy now,” he said. Many people have taken to drinking wine in the recent times partly because they think it is cool and are not really aware of details. Part of the reason why the quality has dropped and that is something wineries should focus now, he added.

Despite all that Oerun feels wine has a bright and interesting future and he is in for it to see it through. “I love my job. I cannot imagine being anyone else,” says Oerun, now the father of a toddler. “I get to meet people variety of people. There is always a new story,” Oerun said, with a contented smile.

Susan Jensen, me and Martin Oerun

 

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