The small ones,
the ones that make it it
"So for my youngest I leave an apology.
That you will never let the citrus lick of dew stain your fingers.
Nor the smell that lingers after the rain.
Frame your autumn days.”
Award-winning spoken word poet, Ellen Renton,
performing her poem 'Passing' ↴
Son-mat, 손맛: adj
The taste of one’s hands.
There’s a certain unique flavour/vibe/feeling that is transferred via touch when you make ferments (like wine or kimchi) with your hands. We call it “hand magic”, but the Koreans call it ‘son-mat’. ‘Son-mat’ literally translates to “the taste of one’s hands”. On the one hand (no pun), there’s the persons totally unique microbiome and bacterial flora that interact directly with the ferment as soon as the hands are plunged in. On the other, it is believed that ‘Son-mat’ also has something to do with the maker’s spirit or energy being passed from the hands into the live culture.
We’ve been thinking a lot about ‘son-mat’ lately because our head winemaker is called Matt and just wrapped up a small harvest on his 1/3 acre dry-farmed vineyard in Sardinia, Italy, where everything was done by hand. From slashing the grass and herbs, to pruning, to picking, to hand-pressing the grapes (photos below). It was laborious work, but it’s sure nice to trade the drone of petrol engines for the drifting sounds of sheep bells from the mountainside. Doing everything by hand means, well, it’s just you and the vines. No machinery, no fumes, no industrial efficiency.
This is where ‘son-mat’ starts to encompass a whole other dimension of experience and flavour; the slow, physical joy of doing everything with your body. It feels strangely beautiful to know that with your body alone you can help a small field of vines through the entire growing season and be viscerally present through the entire metamorphosis of grape into wine. There is a certain lineage you feel in your body as well; a feeling of connection with our ancestors, who, with only the most basic tools, began to explore this incredible act of fermentation and preservation. It’s an exchange; both you and the wine are being shaped in the process. Wine, hand-made. Hands, wine-made.
Lose your mind to the patterns of sound waves moving through salt and water ↴