By  Bryan Calandrelli, Niagara Regional Editor

In a month I will be participating in my third vintage here in Niagara County wine country. I’ve been lucky enough to gain access to several local winemakers and have gone from having zero experience in making wine to having made six wines in the last two years.

As I start to bottle some of these wines, and no I still haven’t bottled my 2007s, I plan on sharing my adventures – and misadventures – here on the New York Cork Report. While I am by no means an expert in chemistry, viticulture, sensory evaluation or anything, now that I’m thinking about it, I do have a decent amount of experience drinking wine and I know what I like.

With the knowledge I’ve picked up from making wine and talking with winemakers, my approach to drinking it has changed forever. In some ways I’ve become more critical, and in other ways I’ve grown to appreciate simpler wines.

Specifically I’ve become much more sensitive to oak. In my desire to figure out how a wine was fermented, cold soaked, de-stemmed, etc., I find that oak just masks these processes.

Knowing the kind of adjustments winemakers have to or opt to employ in the winery, I have also become sensitive to acidity. For example, when I get overripe fruit on the nose and a vibrant acidity on the palate I just assume that that acid came from a bag.

Since making my own, I’m constantly trying to sniff out VA, sulfides and other gas-related flaws in wine. Since most wines do exhibit varying levels of these compounds, it’s tough to distinguish acceptable levels, which are levels that the average wine drinker may not perceive or even find enjoyable.

So with only a couple years of messing around with grapes and yeast, I know now that wine drinking will never be the same. I’m going to start keeping the readers here up to date with the wines I’ve made, am making and hope to make from now on. I’d love to hear your opinions on how wine making has affected your appreciation the wines you drink