Whether you’re new to loving wine, or someone who has been tasting for years, there’s always more you can learn. However, the seemingly endless pages of fine wine at nice restaurants, hundreds of ways to describe wine, and varietals changing from year to year, can make wine education intimidating.
So, where do you begin?
In order to handle the wine list with confidence, discover what wine qualities you like, or simply expand your taste, we have a few ideas for you.
1. Get a wine-centric group of people to form a tasting group.
Find a group of individuals who have the same interest in wine and plan to get together once or twice a month to taste and discuss preferences. Try to mix up the wines you are tasting to expose your palette to as many wine varietals as possible.
If you live near vineyards, have everyone meet at a winery’s tasting room (visit us at Regale!). The pourers will be able to enhance your depth of knowledge and bring new perspectives to your tasting group. They’ll be able to tell you more about each wine you taste, including where it was grown, how it was barreled, and how long it was aged, among other factors.
2. Find a favorite local wine bar. Get to know the staff. Become a regular.
Stop by the wine bar once or twice a week for a glass of wine. Become acquainted with their menu by trying different wines each time you visit. This will help you to identify characteristics that you like and dislike in wine.
3. Host a dinner party with a themed wine selection.
Pick a wine that you would like to know more about (for example, Pinot Noir). Have everyone bring a bottle of Pinot Noir so you can taste and discuss multiple bottles.
Take it a step further.
To take your themed dinner party to another level, have everyone bring a Pinot Noir from a different region. This will allow you to draw comparisons between wines produced in different types of land and soils (like the Willamette Valley and the Santa Cruz Mountains). Take detailed notes to assess your preferences and compare with your guests.
4. Taste frequently.
(Our favorite tip!) Take advantage of the resources you have around you. Find a good local wine shop and get to know the people who work there. Each time you buy wine, ask for one bottle that is full bodied and one that is light bodied.
5. Follow wine experts.
Pay attention to what the experts are doing. This will encourage you to branch out from wines you typically drink and allow you to find new wines you never knew you’d like.
To increase your knowledge of wine, your best bet is to experience as much as possible. Each of these tips will help you to do so, but keep in mind that the very best way you can learn is to taste.
In addition to making these tips part of your wine tasting routine, be sure to have a few good resources to reference. This will keep you on top of wine trends and ongoing education.
Some resources we like:
- Calwineries.com – A guide to wineries in California with information about terrain, history and more.
- WineSpectator.com – A leading wine resource, with information on just about anything you ever wanted to know about wine.