Does wine knowledge increase wine enjoyment? I think it does. But I want to be clear in saying that wine should be enjoyed, whether you know a lot or a little about it.
One of my goals in my wine tastings is to help people have more fun with wine. Early on in my tastings, especially tastings for wine newbies, I say something along the lines of “It’s time to get over our discomfort and intimidation with wine. After all, we are drinking fermented grape juice.”
It’s hard to enjoy yourself or your wine when you’re feeling uptight about not knowing enough or you’re feeling like you need to impress people with your wine knowledge. I think that increasing people’s confidence around wine goes a long way in helping people have fun with it.
I think there are three key areas where having a little wine knowledge can help build confidence and increase enjoyment.
Fun Wine Knowledge
1. Wine Tasting Basics
The four “S’s” of wine tasting are key:
Yes, you can add a few more “S’s”, if you’d like – slurp, savor, etc. But it really doesn’t matter the exact number of “S’s”. The key is that these “S” steps help you pay attention to the whole tasting experience. They get your senses fully involved, and they help you get a really good tasting. Swirling aerates the wine, which brings the aromas to the surface, and smelling gives you the beautiful aromas, which account for about 90% of the tasting experience!
2. What to Look for When Tasting Wine
Are you smelling and tasting fruit? If so, is it tropical, citrus, berry or a stone fruit? Are you smelling and tasting spices? What kinds? Is the wine making your mouth pucker? Is the wine making your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth?
Questions such as these help you get more involved in the tasting experience, which makes the experience more fun. It also makes the tasting more purposeful. You’re not tasting strictly for the sake of tasting. You’re tasting to answer questions ☺
3. Wine Jargon
When a wine makes your mouth pucker, it’s helpful to be able to use the word “acidic” to explain your experience. Having this word in your vocabulary enables you to ask questions such as, “Do I like acidic wines?”, “Is this wine more acidic than the previous one?”, “What foods pair best with acidic wines?”, and “Do different foods affect how I experience acidic wines?”
Here are two more wine-jargon examples.
When your tongue feels like it’s sticking to the roof of your mouth, it’s helpful to know the word “tannin”, which is the likely cause of what you’re experiencing.
When you observe a lot of sensations in your mouth after the wine has gone down, the word “finish” comes in handy. Wow, that wine had a long finish. Yum!
Knowing a few wine terms can help you understand what you’re experiencing with each wine and can also enable you to engage in conversations with other wine appreciators.
So here’s the bottom line. Wine is meant to be enjoyed. Anything you can do to increase your enjoyment is great. I recommend getting to know wine tasting basics, what to look for when tasting a wine, and a little bit of wine jargon. A little serious learning can result in a lot of serious fun with wine.