A Spanish wine expert discusses wine for beginners

27 Mar

Pop quiz: Which country produces the most wine in the world? Hint: It’s not France or Italy. If you guessed Spain, felicidades, you are correct!

Spanish wine is experiencing a surge in popularity, as wine lovers around the world discover the quality and affordability of wines made in Spain. Juan Carlos Armenteros is the commercial director of Bodegas Entremontes, a Madrid-based cooperative representing wines made in Spain’s La Mancha region. Señorita Vino recently interviewed Juan Carlos about his passion for wine and his thoughts on how beginners can learn to enjoy its many pleasures. For those of you who prefer to read in English, scroll down and you’ll find a translation. ¡Salud!

Señorita Vino: ¿Cómo fue que empezaste a trabajar en la industria vinícola?

Juan Carlos Armenteros: Soy una persona emprendedora, en primer lugar aclararte que mi profesión es abogado. Sin embargo, viendo el crecimiento que estaba experimentando el sector del vino nos ofrecieron a través de un cliente el llevar la comercialización del vino embotellado a nivel mundial de una bodega de Castilla La Mancha con una producción de 40.000.000 de litros al año.

Photos provided courtesy of Vevinter and Bodegas Entremontes.

SV: Coméntanos un poco sobre vuestros vinos.

JCA: Son vinos elaborados con cariño y dedicación, no son nada astringentes por lo que tienen un paso de boca suave y agradable, cosa que muchas mujeres agradecen ya que cuando compran en nuestra tienda nos solicitan un vino suave que como ellas dicen no te arda la garganta. Nuestro enólogo ha conseguido un producto equilibrado sin que el vino pierda sus características.

SV: Hoy en día en los Estados Unidos, hay datos indicando que algunos consumidores de vino están buscando productos con precios justos. ¿Qué opinas sobre la calidad de un vino con respecto al precio?

JCA: No siempre hay que guiarse por los precios de las botellas ya que muchas veces una botella de vino puede tener un precio muy justo y sorprendernos con el producto que nos encontramos dentro. Hay que probar distintos varietales para poder apreciar las sensaciones que nos puede aportar una uva tempranillo o una uva syrah. Cada vino es una sensación distinta.

SV: ¿Cuáles consejos tienes para la persona que quisiera aprender más sobre el vino, pero quizás se sienta un poco intimidada?

JCA: Los vinos son seres vivos y un vino que a mi me puede gustar puede que a otra persona por diversos motivos no le sepa en boca igual que a mi. Lo primero que tiene que hacer es probarlo e intentar sacarle todas las denotaciones que el vino tiene, que son muchas. Que lo miren, lo observen, vean sus matices en el color, luego lo huelan e intenten separar todos los olores que un vino puede dar, los olores a frutas, a vainilla, a especias, etcétera. Y por fin que lo caten intentando que los olores percibidos se trasporten a la boca.

Bodegas Entremontes wines at a trade show in New York.

SV: ¿Qué le dirías a una persona que piensa que solo los expertos pueden apreciar el vino?

JCA: El vino es un producto al alcance de todos. Nadie es un experto o un ignorante por que los gustos son distintos. Hay muchas escuelas que ayudan a la gente a entender este producto y puede ser muy valioso que hagan algún curso de cata, no para saber beber el vino, sino para realmente saber apreciar lo que el vino les puede aportar, y sobre todo con qué comidas hay que tomar el vino. Durante un viaje que realicé por París aprendí que la comida se preparaba en función del vino que se iba a tomar en la comida, cosa que no realizamos nosotros. Primero pedimos la comida y después elegimos el vino, creo que en esto tenemos mucho que aprender de la cultura vinícola de francia.

SV:  De acuerdo. ¿Nos pudieras contar de una experiencia impresionante de tu vida que tenga que ver con el vino?

JCA: En una feria interna de nuestro país, una bodega había lanzado un nuevo vino espumoso con oro comestible. Como comprenderás las sensación que causó fue enorme, ya que la botella blanca y trasparente con el oro flotando parecía a esas bolas que los padres regalan a sus hijos que cuando las mueves ves nevar. La sensación era igual pero con oro. La verdad que fue impresionante.

Bodegas Entremontes' wine shop in Madrid. Photo courtesy of Vevinter and Bodegas Entremontes.


ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

Señorita Vino: How did you get started in the wine business?

Juan Carlos Armenteros: I’m an entrepreneur, but I am a lawyer by profession. Nevertheless, given how much the wine industry was growing, a client presented us with an opportunity to lead global marketing efforts for wines made by a winery in Castilla La Mancha, which was producing 40 million liters of wine a year.

SV: Tell us a bit about your wines.

JCA: They’re wines made with affection and dedication; they’re not at all astringent and they have a smooth and pleasant mouthfeel, something that many women appreciate, given that when they purchase wines from our store, they request a smooth wine that, in their words, won’t make your throat burn. Our enologist has found a product that is balanced yet maintains the wine’s characteristics.

SV: Today in the U.S., some data indicate that wine consumers are looking for reasonably priced products. What is your opinion on the relationship between a wine’s quality and its price?

JCA: You shouldn’t always be guided by the price of a bottle of wine, since often a bottle can be very reasonably priced and surprise us with what we find inside. You have to try different varieties to be able to appreciate the sensations a Tempranillo or a Syrah offer us. Each wine is a distinct sensory experience.

SV: What advice do you have for people who want to learn more about wine, but who may feel a bit intimidated?

JCA: Wine is a living thing, and a wine that I like may, for a variety of reasons, taste completely different to someone else. The first thing you have to do is try a wine with the goal of identifying all of the qualities a wine has, which are many. Look at the wine, observe it, notice the shades of color, then smell it and try to detect all of the scents a wine can have, such as fruit aromas, vanilla, spices, etc. Finally, taste the wine and try to transport the aromas you noticed to the palate.

SV: What would you say to someone who thinks only experts can appreciate wine?

JCA: Wine is a product that is within everyone’s reach. No one is an expert or ignorant, because  individual tastes vary. There are many schools that help people understand wine and it could be of value for someone to take a wine tasting course not to learn how to drink wine, but to really know how to appreciate what wine can offer them, especially when it comes to pairing food and wine. On a trip I took around Paris, I learned that meals were prepared according to the wine that would be served for dinner, something that we don’t do here. First we order dinner, and then we choose the wine. I think we have much to learn from the French wine culture in this regard.

SV: I agree. Could you share a wine-related experience from your life that left an impression on you?

JCA: I was at a Spanish wine fair, and a winery had launched a new sparkling wine that contained edible gold. As you can imagine, it caused a huge sensation, since the bottle was clear and transparent with floating flecks of gold. It looked like those snow globes that parents give their kids. It was the same sensation but with gold. It was truly striking.


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7 Responses to “A Spanish wine expert discusses wine for beginners”

  1. whineandcheersforwine March 28, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Thinking of planning a dinner tonight around a Tempranillo I’ve been saving :) Thanks for the great post.
    Regards,
    Ernest.

    • Pamela March 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      Sounds like a great idea, Ernest. I’d love to hear what you plan on serving with it. Salud y buen provecho!

  2. jameshansen March 28, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    Your blog post makes me want to book a flight to Madrid ASAP. Once again, Señorita Vino, you have an amazing gift to write both informative and entertaining articles!

    Senor Jim

    • Pamela March 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      Gracias, Señor Jim! If you do book that flight, can I come with? :-)

  3. Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™ March 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    It’s so true the price not always dictates the quality of a good wine. I’ve amazing wine, knowing where the grapes come from, how they’re pressed and fermented, etc.. all for $10. Great interview. Always good to learn some new information from the vino pro’s.

  4. Comiendo en LA March 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    Me encanta esta entrevista! se aprende mucho del comentario de los expertos~

  5. Sujeiry March 31, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    I never thought of wine that way, as a living thing. I usually just drink! Lol. Great interview!

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