Wine education: the difference between a Bordeaux and a claret

Friday, 9 November, 2012
Tim Atkin,
“I love Chablis, but I can’t stand Chardonnay.” Anyone who has ever done a public tasting, mixing with people who know what they like but not a lot more, will be familiar with such statements. It’s easy to scoff at people’s ignorance, especially when it’s uttered with apparent confidence.
Easy, but unwise. Those of us who work in wine, whether as journalists, retailers, importers, PRs, educators or sommeliers, need to remind ourselves that it’s a complicated and even slightly daunting subject. It takes a while to sort your Pouilly-Fumé from your Pouilly-Fuissé, to remember that Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are made from different grapes, or that Pinot Gris, Grauburgunder and Ruländer are synonyms.

Such facts may be second nature to most of us, but wine is our day job, our way of paying the mortgage. Ask me to explain the workings of the internal combustion engine or the intricacies of climate change and I’d come across as a know-nothing, too. Depending on the subject, we are all selectively ignorant.

At its most basic, wine is very simple. It’s fermented grape juice, or “75cl of fun” as the Aussie wine marketer, Bob McLean, once put it. You don’t need to know anything about wine to enjoy it. The only question you need to answer, apart perhaps from “who’s paying?” is... read on


The difference between a Bordeaux and a claret.
The difference between a Bordeaux and a claret.

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