DOCKWALK.com wine blogger Peter Grogan, who also writes a wine column for Dockwalk magazine, recently spoke with online managing editor Matt Gomez. Grogan shares his thoughts on why he is so passionate about wine, and why wine and the yachting industry go so well together.
Q&A with Wine Blogger Peter Grogan
Q: What intrigues you most about wine?
A: If I had to sum it up in one word, it would have to be “diversity.” I can’t think of any other product made from a single main ingredient that makes such a mind-boggling variety of styles.
Try a glass of a featherlight, almost colourless Moscato d’Asti, at about 5% alcohol, and then a booming, mahogany-coloured Rutherglen Liqueur Muscat, at around 18% and that’s just one grape!
Q: How long have you been writing about wines? When did it become your passion?
A: I started in 2000 when our twin boys, Ben and Joe, were born. That’s a time when you start finding new stuff to do at home because you don’t get out much. My wife, Leslie, suggested I do something for our fantastic local magazine in north London – it’s called N16 and my ramblings are on the website www.n16mag.com if you’re at a very loose end.
Q: Do you favor any particular grape varieties or wine regions when you are just enjoying wine on your own?
A: I love good wine, which usually means well made wine nurtured by an individual rather than a computer, regardless of where it’s made or what it’s made from - I can only think of one exception, which is red vinho verde. Looking at my cellar, a lot of those wines seem to have been made in France, especially in Bordeaux and the Rhône … and Alsace and Burgundy and the Loire. But there’s Rioja [Spain] too, and Port [Portugal] and a few from Tuscany and Piedmont [Italy]…and lots of Sauternes and Barsac [France] …and German Rieslings.
Q: For those who may favor beer over wine, what is the best way to develop a palate for fine wine?
A: Get on good terms with the stews and offer to help “clear up” after big functions – especially if you’re lucky to have a wineloving owner. Failing that, if you’re UK based join the Wine Society. Elsewhere, get friendly with a good wine merchant and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions.
Here's a good rule of thumb: Spend twice as much on every bottle of wine as you’re used to spending – but do it half as often (and make up any alcohol deficit with beer!)
Q: Are there specific challenges to storing wines on a yacht as compared to a wine cellar at home? How can these challenges be overcome?
A: That's an interesting question. In fact, it's so interesting that I've decided to write a piece on this topic soon for Dockwalk and DOCKWALK.com, so best to keep my powder dry.
Q: Certain wines seem to receive a lot of hype and attention, while others are undiscovered gems. What are some of the best wines you have "discovered" in your career? What made them so special?
A: If I had a quid for every bottle of all the wines that I’ve thought, 'I really should try to import this before somebody else gets their hands on it' – and then didn’t, I’d be in the market for a superyacht myself. Then again, I’d have probably messed it all up. Best to stick with what you know most of the time.
There are still relatively undiscovered quality-conscious regions – Jurançon and Savennières in France, for example – that I get a buzz turning people on to. What I love most about Italy, in particular, is that it’s stuffed with fab wines from little-known appellations, made from grapes I’ve never heard of and which seldom get exported.
Q: As a regular blogger for DOCKWALK.com, do you find blogging an easy way to convey the excitement of wines and a wine-loving lifestyle? Why?
A: I really enjoy the spontaneity and immediacy of blogging. The technology is amazing too. Here's a recent example: I posted a blog from a sail boat on the way in from finishing a race at Cork Week, and within seconds it was up on DOCKWALK.com. We’d found a really good wine merchant tucked away in a neighbouring village and hopefully people were able to take advantage of that.
The informality makes it a very digestible way of communicating information that might otherwise seem a bit stodgy in the printed media. I think I'll keep this up for a while.