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This Engineer’s Question at a Wine Tasting Made Me Think About Time and Life

Cellaring Wine Wine Woman Song scaled

“Ok, but does a winemaker think about movement in wine?”

This was the question by an engineer at a wine tasting of Dom Perignon vintages ten years ago. I still think about it. 

“I hear you talk about structural elements (tannins, acidity, the colour palette, and palate), and yet you don’t talk about movement.”

This question threw me at first, because I had not prepared to answer philosophical questions about time and space at the end of a boozy tasting. Then again, there is always one question at the end of the wine tasting that makes you glad you remain sober throughout. 

What is movement in wine?

Movement is bubbles.

The most obvious sense, bubbles move. They want to escape the pressure of the bottle. How bubbles move are important to a sparkling winemaker. The size, shape and how it clings to the glass is all considered. Fine and fast bubbles are the key. The finer the bubble, the more refined the wine.

Movement in the finish.

How many number of seconds or minutes a wine lingers on the palate? Some wines last for minutes on the palate (and even longer in the memory). A wine with powerful attributes in structure and flavour will often have a long finish on the palate.

A glass of red wine or white wine can still be powerful in alcohol and have no structure on the finish. If there is a hot vintage for a cool climate grape. Even if it is the best vineyard in the world, excessive heat will blow out the flavours and structure.

Movement after cellaring wine.

A winemaker will have an idea about how a wine will progress over time but this is not something they can control. I have spent time many visits in cold cellars in Burgundy tasting older vintages to see how older vintages have developed. It’s never what you expect. Even the winemaker can never tell. Even if they have had the vineyards kept in the family for a century is still learning every time they open bottle.

So what?

I could use this as a heading for nearly every post on wine.

Is it necessary to think about movement? Well, as much as it is interesting to think about any ideas.

It’s good to go back to basic wine sales experience.

There are wines for different situations. Rather than one is better than the other.

Some wines are better to splash about by the pool. Then there are serious creations that deserve attention for pulling in all your senses and memories. They hold wonderful surprises in the glass over time, especially if you are lucky to have a cellar.

(Not having a cellar is one of the biggest regrets of my career. It’s not been possible to live in central London in a one-bedroom flat. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but yet again, I would love to have checked up on some wines over time. A cellar is there for moments in your life.)

The space for you in the wine story.

Movement in wine is outside of the winemaker’s control.

A winemaker can work on the wine structure and create the best conditions for longevity to happen.

But once the cork or cap is on, and the wine is sent on its way in the world, and you are cellaring your wine, even if you have near perfect conditions, they are unique to you.

Despite the engineer wanting to control movement, this is not possible with wine. It moves, but it is not always planned and predictable. Of course, it depends on the frame. Most people drink their wines before they will ever see how they develop into maturity. Not many people I know are cellaring wine today.

So, what is movement in wine?


This poem from Sufi poet, Kahlil Gibran , sums it up how life (and wine), moves ever onwards – and out of our control. 

“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For thir souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.”


Cellaring wine: Dom Perignon 2012

Dom Perignon Vintage 2012 Label

Dom Perignon Vintage 2012 Label

Dom Perignon Vintage with Gift Box 2012, Vintage Champagne France (Affiliate link – please simply click through and I will receive a few pennies.)

As we are talking about longevity, bubbles and Champagne: Dom Perignon. This Champagne has been a guest at some major turning points in my life. I’m keenly interested in following the longevity and movement over time for life.

What about you – do you have a wine you remember from a significant moment in your life? And have you gone back to it again after a few years had passed? Do you cellar wine?

Image: Unsplash/ Igor Rand

This Engineer’s Question at a Wine Tasting Made Me Think About Time and Life
This Engineer’s Question at a Wine Tasting Made Me Think About Time and Life
This Engineer’s Question at a Wine Tasting Made Me Think About Time and Life
This Engineer’s Question at a Wine Tasting Made Me Think About Time and Life
This Engineer’s Question at a Wine Tasting Made Me Think About Time and Life