Are you tired of passing the wine list to your partner? Are you ready to choose a wine with confidence? Read on to get some best-kept secrets for understanding wine.
“I love drinking wine, but I don’t know anything about it. I wish I did.” I hear this all the time. People can’t believe how easy it is to learn more about wine. You just have to be willing to do three things, according to Michael Steinberger from The Wine Savant:
1. Drink wine frequently
2. Drink a wide range of wines
3. Drink as well as your budget permits
I want to add three more items:
1. Find a terrific wine shop with knowledgeable staff
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
3. Attend tastings (sign up with local-wineevents.com for tastings in your local area)
When I worked in a wine shop, I saw people aimlessly wandering around the shop – looking, looking, looking. They were afraid to ask any questions and display a lack of knowledge. Ultimately, they ended up purchasing the same bottle of wine every time! I could tell they really wanted to get out of their wine rut. If only I could transform them into the customer who would come into the wine shop, cookbook in hand with a selected recipe for the big dinner party. The customer and I would talk about the ingredients and pair it with a wine that would be a wonderful “crowd-pleaser.”
The eloquent Tim Hanni, author of “Why You Like The Wines You Like”, notes that we all have a physiological predisposition to like or not like certain wines. “Things don’t taste better or worse to some people – just different. The exact same thing may taste entirely different to two different people.”
Hanni equates our coffee drinking preferences to our wine drinking preferences. For example, there are those of us who drink our coffee with cream and extra sugar, and there are those of us who drink our coffee black. Hanni proves that the different coffee drinkers prefer different types of wines. There is no use convincing the Riesling drinker to try a deep, dark California Cabernet Sauvignon. So if a particular wine expert rates a wine with a very high score, it does not mean that this may be the wine for you; it is just the way that expert is tasting the wine. If you want to find out what type of wine drinker you are, go to www.yumyuk.homestead. com or www.myvinotype.com.
Hanni keeps everything very simple when it comes to wine.
He has 4 basic rules:
1. Drink what you like for whatever reason you like
2. Drink what you like with the food your really want to eat
3. Don’t let anyone harass you or sway you against your own instincts for enjoyment
4. Choose to enjoy, experiment, and learn more about wine to your heart’s content – or not.
Wine is a multi-sensory experience that takes us right “into the moment” and heightens our awareness. I often think about Maude’s “Odorifics” Machine in the classic movie, Harold and Maude. She says to Harold, “Have you noticed that art ignores the nose? Let’s have an olfactory banquet.”
Wine gives us a multi-sensory banquet:
• The Auditory Banquet – The pop of a cork
• The Visual Banquet – The brilliant hue of a wine and the exciting artistry of the label
• The Olfactory Banquet – The aromas, both good and bad, emanating from a wine
• The Taste Banquet – The plethora of flavors
• The Texture Banquet – From the excitement of the sparkling wine bubbling on your tongue to the drying tannins coating your mouth
It is so important to take a few moments to experience a wine from this perspective. There are no right or wrong answers. If I taste almonds and peach, and you taste lemons, that’s fine. Just take those few moments to appreciate this multi-sensory banquet.
Like primary colors, there are primary white and red wines.
At the beginning of your wine journey, white wines fall into two categories – light and crisp or full and fruity. Red wines fall into three categories – light and fresh, medium body and flavor, and full and complex.
The three primary white grapes are:
1. Sauvignon Blanc – The savage grape
2. Chardonnay – The world’s greatest star
3. Riesling – The queen of cool weather grapes
The three primary red grapes are:
1. Cabernet Sauvignon – Cab is KING
2. Pinot Noir – The“Heartbreak Grape,” because it is so difficult to grow
3. Syrah/Shiraz – an ancient, full bodied grape
Now you are prepared to start your wine journey. Be brave – it’s only wine. The hardest part is opening the bottle and figuring out what to do with all of the corks you’ll be saving (they can be recycled). Drink wine – As Michael Gelb says, “Put the Joie back in your Vivre!”
For more information visit Jo-Ann Ross, DWS, FWS www.jrosswine.com