How to Learn More About Wine Hot

How to Learn More About Wine
Wine Tasting for Education
Photo © mikecogh

There are lots of people who enjoy drinking wine and most of these same people would also probably like to know at least a little bit more about the wines that they drink — but they don't. Why? In many cases, people seem to be intimidated by the world of wines and wine culture. Given the complexity of wine culture and snobbery associated with it, it's not hard to understand why people might feel intimidated — but it's not necessary. Learning more about wine isn't hard and can greatly expand your horizons.

Focus on What You Love

You wouldn't even be thinking about learning more about wine unless you really enjoyed it. Without that attraction to wine generally, learning more about it would be more of a chore than a pleasure. The same principle is true within the world of wine as well: focus on those aspects that you already like the most rather than aspects that aren't as appealing.

What this means is that if you are more fond of red wines than of white wines, then start out by focusing on learning more about reds. If you are more fond of {ln:merlot-wine-flavor-aroma-characteristics 'Merlot} than of {ln:zinfandel-wine-flavor-aroma-characteristics 'Zinfandel}, then don't worry so much about Zinfandel for a while. Hopefully you'll learn to appreciate other aspects of the culture of wine as well, but there is no need to rush into them before you're ready.

Find Some Good Wine Books

There is no substitute for good, old-fashioned research. It may have been a few years since you had to do book research in school or college, but it's worth brushing up on your research skills. There are a lot of good books out there — books that explain the basics and books that explain some complex subjects for experts. If you really want to learn more about wine, you just can't avoid getting some basic reading materials — and there are new ones published every year. Some books are expensive, but most should be available at your local library.

Another good source of information are wine magazines. One advantage which wine magazines have over most wine books is the fact that they can present the latest information — reviews of the newest wines and newest wine products. The latest wine books are inevitably a year or two behind, though they may also present a more considered viewpoint as well. Wine magazines also teach you the language of wine culture — the words, phrases, and concepts which people use to describe and discuss wine. The more you know about how to describe wine, the better you'll be able to express your impressions and feelings.

Find a Wine Buddy or Wine Guide

A person who knows more than you about wine and who is willing to help you expand your horizons can be invaluable. If you wanted to go hiking in an unfamiliar region, wouldn't you want both a map and a good guide who knows the area? If you wanted to just travel as a tourist in a new country, wouldn't you like to go there with a person who was familiar with the land and perhaps speaks the language, not just map printed up for foreign tourists?

Books are great, but while a book may have more information than a person you can't put questions to a book. Not only can you ask a person questions, but you can sit and taste wine with them. Shopping for and tasting wine with another person — even if they only know a little more than you — allows you to compare your impressions with theirs. They can help you come to pinpoint which sensations are fruity rather than sweet, acid rather than tanning, and so forth.

Try New Wines

Although you don't want to rush into aspects of wine that don't appeal so much, you also don't want to ignore or neglect them entirely. You won't be doing yourself any favors if you focus too narrowly on just one {ln:wine-grape-varieties 'varietal} or region, even if they always remain an overall preference. Everyone has a comfort zone and it's always important to learn how to step outside the comfort zone in order to grow as a person.

The same is indisputably true when it comes to being a wine aficionado. No matter what your general preferences with wine, you need to learn to try new ones — new varietals, new growing regions, new blends, even new wine cocktails. You might be surprised and find a new love or you may simply have a pleasant evening with a new wine. Neither is a waste of time.

Drink Wine Regularly

There aren't many contexts where you would be advised to drink more alcohol more often rather than less, but this is one of them. You can't learn about wine solely from reading books, reading magazines, and talking to wine experts. Learning about wine requires that you actually drink wine — and given how many different sorts of wine are out there, you'll learn more by drinking more different sorts of wines.

You don't have to drink entire bottles of wine, fortunately, because there are a variety of situations where you can taste wine in smaller amounts. Most wineries offer wine tastings of their products, at least during certain times of the year. Some wine merchants offer wine tastings of the wines they sell. You can also be proactive by organizing your own wine tasting parties, though it might be easier to do so with someone else — especially with someone more experienced than you.

Keep a Wine Tasting Journal

Learning is a process of acquiring new experiences and then drawing on those experiences to make better decisions in the future. How, though, do you remember enough about each experience with wine in order to create a solid foundation to build upon? It's not easy, even if you have a great memory, so you should consider keeping a wine tasting journal in which you can record your experiences as you're having them — right when the sensations and impressions are all fresh in your mind.

A small, spiral-bound notebook is an inexpensive way to go about this. Some of details you might want to record each time include:

  • Wine Name
  • Place of Origin
  • Vintage
  • Alcohol Content
  • Price
  • Aromas
  • Flavors
  • How it Feels in the Mouth
  • How it Works with Which Foods

Some of these details may not appear important, but they all serve several purposes. First, they will help give you a long-term impression of what you do and do not like as well as any changes in your tastes if they develop over time. Second, they will help remind you about things you did or did not like even though time has passed. Finally, they will also help you find wines you liked but can't remember precisely.

Treat Yourself — Try a Good Wine

You don't need to spend a fortune on wines in order to learn more about them, though it may start adding up to a lot before too long. It isn't a good idea to spend all of your money just on inexpensive wines because quantity isn't always better than quality. You of course want a broad experience with lots of different wines, but that doesn't do you as much good if you don't have experience with really good, high quality wines.

You don't need to buy an expensive wine every week, but you should try to buy a better wine a couple of times each year. It's a good idea to try a wine that is representative of a varietal or style which you already know you like. It's an even better idea to try this wine side-by-side against a less expensive bottle that you have had before and enjoyed.

The more experience you have with high quality wines, the better you'll be able to evaluate less expensive versions of the same sorts of wines. What's more, experience with high quality wines will help you get to know growing regions, styles, and varieties much better than inexpensive wines, thus helping you learn which ones you like the most and want to drink more often.

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