Introducing Madalena Moreira, Encirc’s very own oenologist
Welcome to the job you never knew you wanted.
The Daily Mirror sat down with Madalena recently to find out just what an oenologist is and why it’s one of the most coveted (and important) roles at Encirc. A fair warning: this might have you considering a career change, or just make you thirsty!
So, what exactly is an oenologist, and how do I become one?
An oenologist is a wine specialist that applies scientific methods to wine production. It comes unsurprisingly from the French ‘oenologue’ and is specifically linked to the science behind great wine, not just the taste. It’s this technical aspect that is relevant to my work at Encirc; bottling might be the last stage in the production process, but it should never be an afterthought as it’s the last step before the wine ends up on the shelf, so getting it right and ensuring it tastes how it should is critical.
My background is in the drinks industry as a winemaker and distiller, beginning with my first harvest in my native Portugal in 2006, then across the world in Australia, New Zealand, France, India, and finally the UK where I settled in 2012. I’m lucky to have had such a varied career in some of the best winemaking regions in the world, as well as experience of the winemaking process – it’s all added to my understanding.
I’m starting to worry I might have to settle for enthusiastic amateur. Do you have any tips for non-professional wine tasters?
You’ll be happy to hear that practice makes perfect, so keep tasting. But also, don’t be afraid to be confident about what you you’re tasting, or to look for quality. Small imperfections can make a huge difference to how a wine tastes; our quality department only settles for the best and you should too.
So, what about the day to day? What does the job mean in practice?
It varies significantly from day to day, but a lot of what I do is meeting customers to review the quality of their wine when it arrives in the UK, and working with their technical teams to review the specifications and quality markers associated with their products and ensure what leaves our production line measures up.
My team and I also sample all the products that we bottle every day. Fortunately, I’m not doing this alone, as I’m backed up by a trained sensory panel. And it’s not just wine, we taste beers, soft drinks, blended wine-based drinks and ready-to-drink cocktails. Last year we bottled almost 200 million litres at our Cheshire site, and that level of production has me tasting more than 300 wine samples every week, so it’s no walk in the park.
Each time I taste a wine, I’m looking for something specific, including pre-shipping samples to monitor how or if they change during transportation and older reference samples that tell us about a wine’s shelf-life and how it continues to evolve once it’s bottled.
What’s your favourite part of the job? (besides the wine!)
The people. I’ve met so many amazing people who are at the top of their game in the beverages industry. Encirc has a huge customer base, and it’s a privilege to work with the finest technical teams from all over the world, and to work on the thing that everything else is built to support – the liquid!
Being part of a smarter, better connected, and more sustainable drinks industry is also really exciting. We’ve just acquired The Park, a bottling and warehousing facility, meaning we’re filling a third of the wine in the UK and making the supply chain as sustainable as possible. The wine industry is inexorably linked to the climate, and we’re working with our partners to combat the climate crisis. We’re aiming to be able to produce Zero-Emissions glass by 2030, and I’m really proud to be a part of this effort, because I want this industry to thrive long into the future.
What’s the difference between drinking wine from a glass compared to plastic?
Come on. No winemaker is making wine to be consumed or enjoyed in plastic, and my job is drinking and tasting wine as it was meant to be, so glass is definitely my material of choice. There are well known and documented differences between glass and plastic from a quality and sensory perspective, not to mention from a health angle, as chemicals can migrate from vessel to liquid.
So go for glass!