Every day is a school day in the wine world, writes Guy Chatfield

IN some respects, not much has changed in the wine world of late.

Adverse weather has hit a popular wine region (California has had its worst drought for 119 years); a ‘mega-brand’ has flexed its muscles to a tiny producer to protect its product over the “similarity” of the colour of their labels; and, as ever, someone has tried to pass-off some old plonk as highly valuable kit in another case of fine wine fraud.
This recurrence of certain things is not to say that the world of wine is a dull subject. There is a myriad of things that keep me intrigued.
Many years ago on a work trip to see a producer in France, I overheard the winemaker chide a visitor to his cuverie.
The old boy was chatting away when one of the audience intimated that after a lifetime making and drinking wine, it really must make him a ‘connoisseur’. The old chap was pretty animated, insisting that he was merely an ‘amateur’ despite having been in the business for well over 40 years.
Intrigued as to his reaction, I asked him why he had taken exception to what was meant as a compliment. He told the group that every day in his cellar and vineyards and every time he opened a bottle, he learnt something new.
Wine, for him, was constantly evolving, constantly surprising him with nuances and changes; to this old Burgundy producer, it always told him a new story.
I know it is a bit soppy, but I love that concept and I have held it pretty close to my heart since that meeting.
I’m aware that, to most, wine is a pretty one dimensional subject but I can promise you, the more you delve in to it, the more you uncover and the more interesting it gets.
In my humble opinion, wine can work on a number of different levels, but the three that I have always enjoyed are the commercial, the academic and, finally, the convivial –allowing social interaction with friends.