Proud of our Ghent roots, we get so much energy from the makers, creatives and entrepreneurs that run amok in this city. Griet Priem is one of them. Before starting SIP, she was working as a freelancer in the event scene all while pouring bottles of natural wine in restaurants here in Ghent.
During these strange times, Griet decided to reorient herself. After experiencing the wonderful art of wine making during harvest season, where she got absorbed by the microcosmos between her and the vines, she started SIP – a natural wine shop with selections that suit all emotions. Aside from her intriguing wine choices and pairings, she’s also in the quest of learning how to make her own wine.
As we have a soft spot of working together with other likeminded locals who share our love for good music and mood setting, we couldn’t resist working together. Because really, is there a more perfect pairing to get you in the mood?
Tell us why and how you decided to pair wines with moods.
When I started making wine selections for friends, I would always ask them what they felt like drinking. I often got the same answer: “I don’t know much about it, just do your thing.”
Nice, free play! But eventually I missed a little bit of guidance, so I started to ask more questions. When are you going to drink it? Are you going to share a bottle with two or do you plan to crack one on your own? What kind of atmosphere are you looking for? When you close your eyes, what do you smell? Instead of going technical about it, I felt that asking them to talk about their mood helps me find something that suits them.
When choosing the name SIP, I had some doubts. Sip means ‘sad’ in Dutch, and Bacchus looks a bit sad in my logo. But do I really want to be associated with tristesse? I decided to go with it because, for me, natural wine embodies expression and all sorts of moods, but of course not every day is sunshine and rainbows. The name is a bit cheeky, and I wanted to make it extra clear that a good glass of wine can go with any mood.
How do you go about your pairings?
There are a few basics that always work. These are mostly based on food and wine pairings. But in general, I don’t like to follow the written rules. It’s long outdated that you have to drink red wine with bold flavors and white with light meals. Pairing wine to a mood is very personal and can shift from one moment to another. It depends on the season, the moment of the day and the state you are in.
As with music, it’s mostly gut feeling. The perfect pairing is something that comes from intuition combined with a solid knowledge of wines and a good connection with some of the winemakers. And putting it into practice. You have to try and feel it yourself. Taste and taste, and taste again. If you’re craving for more, you’re going in the right direction.
And why the preference for natural wines?
Natural wine is, briefly said, pure juice. Nothing added, nothing taken out.
I care about the food I eat, the shops I go to and the amount of waste I produce. Naturally, this translates to my choice of wine too. When I dove into the natural wine world, I’ve met so many passionate people and listening to their stories is what I love the most. They care so much about nature and sustainability. It’s all about the traditions and it’s mostly manual labour. It’s also about honouring the different seasons and constantly variable circumstances. So, for me, natural wine is alive, it is pure, it changes, it speaks, it’s exciting and never the same.
People tend to think that natural wine is a recent hype but fermenting grape juice without additives is a thousand-year-old tradition. It has always been there. I experienced it myself while working between the vines. I greatly enjoyed being surrounded by nature and working hard with my hands – either together with a team or just alone with all the barrels – and just creating something so pure. That’s what I want to fill my days with.
Which mood for you is the best mood for enjoying wine?
The better question would be which mood isn’t. You can very quickly convince me to open a bottle of wine.
In any case, I care about tasting wine, not just drinking it. I like to give the wine all the focus it deserves and showing the winemaker respect for all of their efforts and the hard labor that went into the bottle.
Whether I get home full of energy and all I want to do is take my pants off and dance in the living room or get caught up in a long, deep conversation with a friend, I’ll always taste with attention, whatever mood I’m in.
And how about music, what sounds do you gravitate to the most?
I love the sound of the shutter of my analogue camera. It’s very mechanical and convincing at the same time. I also love the sound of fermenting wine when the barrels in the cellar are full. The water lock on top makes these cute bubbling noises.
When we talk about music, I’m quite lucky that I am surrounded by talented people with good taste in music. Selectors, producers, lovers of good sound. Our house is always filled with fine tunes. During the first lockdown, I rediscovered some old school hip-hop records. Lately I’ve been listening to Jason Kolar on repeat. My morning routine includes boiling water for a tea, watering my plants, trying to meditate a little and putting on this record. Instant happiness!
I also like the new album of Basic Moves with Adi. It’s very danceable and it makes me miss dancing in the weekends. In general, I like all kinds of music, as long as there’s not too much bongo’s going on.
Last question for now. How can people discover new wines to love?
Let yourself be guided by a local natural wine shop, as they would always love to let you taste new stuff. If you get the chance, go on the road, visit a winery and be inspired by the passion and drive of a winemaker and the special energy of the surroundings at the vineyards.
But really, just keep on tasting! It is so much fun to go on a hunt for flavors that excite you. It is the same with music. What gives you goosebumps? What flavors stick with you and would make you want to go grab a second glass?
I’m a huge sucker for labels and my visual memory is way stronger than remembering names. When I see new bottles that I haven’t seen before, I try to lay my hands on the ones that pull my attention. And as my dear flat mate has plans to start a book club, I also want to start a wine club when it’s allowed again. Double the fun to share your discoveries with likeminded people!