So you really want to learn about wine. Perhaps your friends are getting serious about wine, and you’re feeling left out. Maybe you’re planning your first-born’s wedding, and you want to provide a really great wine selection. Or maybe you enjoy only a few wines and you would like to enjoy a few more.
Whatever the reason, you might find yourself nervously saying, “HELP! How do I tackle learning about wine?!”
Let me start by encouraging you to calm down and have a little fun – or a lot of fun. Keep in mind that wine is nothing more than fermented grape juice, which is just a slight variation on the sweet drink we enjoyed as kids. Do your best to ignore the “experts” who try to convince you that you can’t enjoy wine unless you’re an expert. Everybody can enjoy wine. And if you’re at the beginning of your wine journey, you get to look forward to enjoying it even more as you learn more about it.
Wine is a very tactile, sensory experience. So if you’re a kinesthetic learner (someone who learns by active involvement), you will have a ton of fun learning about wine as you smell, see, feel and taste it. Really focus on your experience. For example, does the wine feel heavy in your mouth? Do you taste sweetness?
If you’re an auditory learner, listen to your taste buds’ shouts of joy when they encounter a wine they really love. Try to name the flavors you taste: stone fruit? floral notes? spices?
If you’re a visual learner, swirl the wine glass and observe the truly luscious variety of colors you encounter.
The best way to learn about wine is with friends. Maybe one friend smells strawberry notes in a wine, and another smells blackberry. Perhaps you weren’t able to identify any smells in this wine. Use your friends’ prompts to try to pick up on the berry notes in the wine. But remember to have fun. If you can’t pick up on the berry notes, don’t sweat it. Not all noses work alike.
Relax and allow your senses to take over. Take the time to figure out what you’re experiencing and, more importantly, what you’re enjoying. And don’t be alarmed if the wine you love isn’t the wine your friends love, and vice versa. Very often, one person’s star delight will leave another person flat. There’s no right or wrong.
So, what is my Number One Always and Forever Rule of Wine? Figure out what you like, and celebrate that!
As you taste more wines, you will undoubtedly develop your wine knowledge and skills. I also recommend reading a wide variety of blogs, articles and books and take classes. One of my favorite web sites is Wine Folly. I highly recommend signing up to receive their emails.
Your ability to understand and appreciate wine from all aspects (flavor, history, production, etc.) will be equal to the time and effort you give it. But above all else, remember to have fun!