The MW – Wine in higher definition

During our hours of travelling this summer, I overheard a conversation between my husband and sons about HD and 4K, otherwise known as Ultra-high definition.  They were asking why we settled for the former on our telly when we could have the latter. I inevitably looked for some way of linking the discussion to wine, tiresomely incapable as I was at the time of thinking of anything else. My one-track mind stemmed from waiting for my results of the MW exams I had taken earlier in June. The studies have been time consuming and have also taken their toll mentally and physically, to the extent that I have even questioned my motives for continuing with them.

Searching for greater definition
Searching for greater definition

It turns out a family boys’ chat about pixels ended up illuminating more than just our long car journey. Not only did I find a link to wine (I usually do) but also a true incentive to keep going. It reminded me that the search for greater definition and clarity, a guiding principle in today’s technology, and the certainty that it does exist, was precisely why I had embarked on the MW programme in the first place and why it was so important I kept going.

I enjoy wine, drink it, share it, talk about it (a lot, according to my family). I am even fortunate enough to make a living from it. I already get to experience it in HD and 3D. I visit vineyards, taste in cellars, work with producers, debate packaging options, write about it, talk to customers, drink with friends. I’d like to think I see all the way around the bottle by trying to understand the consumer facing the label as well as the winemaker and grape grower filling it. I knew before I joined the programme that I don’t just like wine. I love it. It enthralls me. Every good bottle, a little more. Great wine is nuanced, I find it intriguing. Loving wine makes it taste better.

and clarity
and clarity

So why the MW? The various answers I have come up with have been wholly dependent on the specific moment I’ve asked or been asked the question. I’ve seen it as a challenge when I’ve been lazy, a goal when I’ve been aimless, an academic puzzle when I’ve been facile, a discipline when I’ve needed focus. It has been all of these things as well as the gateway to great friendships. But of course none of those things are specific to wine – any demanding qualification could have done the same.

What I now see is that the MW study is taking wine from HD to 4K for me. It is giving me a whole lot more to love and in a great deal more detail.  It has actively encouraged me to explore and give greater definition to the nuances and subtleties of wine. Not only that but whilst increasing my reference points exponentially it also insists I then refine and reduce them to their essence in order to make them clearer, just as the huge number of pixels in 4K resolution provide more detail when scaled down to lower resolutions.

It has done this by stripping away all the artifice and insisting I look at the innate structure, minutely, and that I do it blind. Removing cues such as label and bottle shape as well as removing comforting, enhancing external influence of setting, time and place, may seem cold and calculating. I admit, I hated tasting everything blind at first. I have hated my many, merciless errors identifying variety, region and origin. But ‘blinding’ the wines has also allowed a new discipline to creep in and the wines to express themselves more clearly. It has actually allowed what’s in the glass to come into even clearer focus.

Focus on a sharper and brighter picture
Focus on a sharper and brighter picture

I continue to make inexcusable mistakes and sometimes dismiss or worse, overlook the nuances in order to come to a quick and easy conclusion. At times over the last couple of years I have had to reconsider everything I thought I knew about wine, as the bigger picture has become blurred and confused. I realise now this is all a necessary part of the process – a sort of finer tuning if you like before the picture can emerge sharper and brighter. HD is good but now I’ve experienced 4K I won’t settle for less. Thanks boys!

September 2014

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