For most people drinking wine is a pleasurable and relaxing experience however the process of selecting what wines to enjoy can be a very daunting task. Wine stores and restaurant wine lists can be intimidating and at times overwhelming for any wine novice. Instead of making blind decisions and worrying if your selection will be worthwhile, there are several ways that anyone can become their own wine expert.
The best advice I received in the wine world was at my very first wine tasting. The distributor guiding us through the tasting said that the best way for anyone to learn about wine is to educate your palate by trying as many different wines as you can from all varieties and regions. The more you do this the more you learn what you like and what you dislike. You may like heavier, full bodied reds or you may realize you prefer dry, crisp whites. The easiest way to do this is to attend wine tastings offered by local restaurants and wine shops. Whether these tastings are free or require a small admission fee they are a fun and educational way to try a broad selection in one sitting. These events also teach the proper technique for tasting a wine as well as background on the wineries and their production processes.
VISIT A WINERY NEAR YOU
If you have a day, a long weekend, or better yet can head to Napa for a week- take a trip to wine country and head to your nearest winery. For a low fee you can taste a sampling of what that particular winery has to offer. Some even provide behind the scenes tours to demonstrate the wine making process. My own visits to the North Fork of Long Island and Napa, CA provided me with what now are some of my favorite wines. Since some of these are only available locally had I not taken the trip out there they would have remained undiscovered to me.
MAKE YOUR OWN WINE TASTING
A great excuse to stay in on a Saturday night-have your own wine tasting party. My friend did this as an alternative to a traditional bachelorette party and it was a huge hit. Each guest brought a bottle of wine they wanted to try as well as an appetizer to share. Each wine was sampled and reviewed which encouraged discussion of the different wine styles. At the end of the night everyone voted on their favorites. This is another great way to try many different varietals without having to step out and buy something without trying it beforehand.
PUT YOUR NOSE IN A BOOK
After you have tasted your way to becoming an expert you can take your nose out of the glass for a bit and put it into a good wine book. There are many books now available at Barnes & Noble on this topic and they provide a more economical alternative to enrolling in formal wine classes. My wine bible is the Windows on the World Complete Course Book by Kevin Zraly 2010 edition. This book is full of valuable information and is written in a clear and understandable format. It also includes the wine selections that are used in the tasting portion of each of his actual classes.
The more you taste and learn about what you are drinking the easier it becomes to know without a doubt what wines you will enjoy most. Become your own wine expert because life is too short to drink bad wine!