Wine is an acquired taste. When most people begin to try wine, the number of varieties and the terminology can be intimidating. While many vineyards or wine shops may offer wine tastings, a novice may fear committing a breach of wine etiquette or mispronouncing a new variety. Wine is meant to be tasted and enjoyed. If everyone was meant to have the same tastes in wine, there would not be so many varieties. Grab a goblet and start sampling until you discover your own taste in wine. If you are new to wine and don’t know where to begin, there are several ways to learn about wine from the comfort of your own home.
First, start by buying a good book about wines. There are countless titles, such as “The Everything Wine Book,” by Barbara Nowak and Beverly Wichman, “Great Wine Made Simple,” by Andrea Robinson, and “Windows on the World Complete Wine Course,” by Kevin Zraly. Your guide book will be your go-to resource as you expand your taste in wine, so choose a book with a fun and entertaining format, an index, and a glossary.
You will also want a notebook to keep tasting notes. In your notebook you will want to make notes about each wine you try: the brand, variety, price, flavors and whether or not you liked it.
Of course, you will want a set of wine glasses. While there are several different styles of wine glasses, a set of white wine glasses is fine to start with. According to Danny May and Andy Sharpe, authors of the 1997 edition of “The Everything Wine Book,” white wine should never be served in a burgundy glass, but it is fine to serve red wine in a white wine glass. Start with a clear glass that holds about 12 ounces and has a sturdy stem.
Finally, it is time to buy a few bottles of wine. The choices are limitless. Red or white wine. Dry, sweet, semi-dry, semi-sweet. Wines from different regions: California, France, Australia, Italy and Chile. In the beginning, you will just want to develop a taste for wine. Starting with a sweet or semi-sweet wine is a good way to start. Moscato, white Zinfandel, and white Merlot are sweeter wines with Moscato being a white wine and the other two pink or rose colored. These wines are best served chilled. Next you will want to try some of the more traditional varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir are some of the more traditional red wines, best served at room temperature. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio are some of the more traditional white wines and are best served chilled. Invite a few friends over for a wine tasting. Serve some crackers, cheese, and fruit. Discuss what you like and dislike about the different wines. What flavors do you detect? Compare your tasting notes with the wine’s label to see if you agree with its description.
As you acquire a taste for more variety, you will start to notice some regions produce great wines at a more affordable price. Some wines go better with certain foods. You may start reading magazines, such as “Food and Wine,” “Wine Enthusiast,” or “Wine Spectator” to get serving ideas or pick up information on new wine trends.
To learn how to pronounce the different varieties of wines and their definitions, http://www.wineloverspage.com/lexicon/ is a great website with definitions and audio clips. When you find a wine maker that you like, see if they have a website. You can learn a lot about different varieties and serving suggestions. Sutterhome.com and barefootwine.com are great websites from two big wine companies.
Be confident in your own taste in wine. As you discover your own taste, you can confidently ask for suggestions the next time you shop for wine.