Honestly! How do you become a wine expert if this wasn’t your primary field of studies?
Well, don’t worry! There is a way!
Experts did not achieve mastery in the wine field by only reading some books and listening to their teachers’ indications! They had to do a hell of a lot more to get where they are!
They invested on their education over wines, but they also got out and tasted quite a few of them! By all means, they did NOT become alcoholics! They just combined knowledge with experience!
So, what can you do? Well, get some knowledge and get out there!
How do you do that?It’s all in the following steps:
- Read Some Books
- Check The Wine Terminology!
- Get Out and Try Some Wines
- Take Notes No Matter What!
- Take Things Gradually!
- Try Some Classics!
- Attend Wine Events!
- Go for Forums and Discussion Groups!
- Wine Blogs are an Excellent Source of Information!
- Visit A Wine Region!
- Spend Four Hours Tasting Wine!
- It is OK to Make a Mistake!
Let’s elaborate a bit more…
Read Some Books for God’s Sake!
First thing you have to do is learn! You have to read some books, people. You have to know how is wine made, why the method of winemaking matters for the final wine, what is fermentation, what are the basic grape varieties, etc.
You have to acquire as much knowledge as possible. No matter how many wines you taste, you will be in no position of rating them and appreciate its characteristics to the full if do not know what it should taste like. Knowledge will set the base for you to get into practice and finally be in a position to know what you are really talking about. Here are some books that might seem handy, recommended by experts:
- “The World Atlas of Wine” by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson
- “Complete Wine Course” by Kevin Zraly
- “The Story of Wine” by Hugh Johnson
- “Wine for Dummies” by Ed-McCarthy & Mary Ewing-Mulligan
- “Wine: An Introduction” by Joanna Simmon & Joanna Simm
Check The Wine Terminology!
Learning general information about wines is great, but you will have to pick up the wine terms as well. As every field, wines have their own vocabulary and although you may not come across it on a daily basis while going out, you will definitely see it in the books you read at some point.
Keep a glossary to make it easy for you check it whenever you wish and sooner or later, you will get the hang of it and use it as well. It does feel great when you are starting to see that the words somewhat alien to you, in the beginning, have finally become a part of your vocabulary when talking about wines. Apart from that, you will be able to watch related interviews and attend wine events far more easily.
Get Out and Try Some!
Well, knowledge is good and all but you really need to get out and try some wines. To be exact, you need to get out and try different kinds of wine. You see, in this way you will be able to practically understand the tastes and flavors of a wine. By trying a wide range of varieties, you will be able to get a grip of the certain aromas of a wine and mark them in your mind. Developing your taste pallet will actively put your knowledge into testing!
Give a try to the following basic wine tasting steps:
- Take a look at the color of the wine in your glass
- Smell the wine
- Swirl the wine in the glass and smell again now that oxygen has been mixed with the wine
- Take a sip and keep it in your mouth for a few seconds until you either spit it or swallow it
- Wait and check the aftertaste of the wine.
Take Notes No Matter What!
Remember the wine journal we talked about in our previous post? It will help you get every single remark about the wine you are tasting, down! From the simplest to the most complicated one to remember. From the name and type of the wine to its taste, flavors and aromas. You see, if you are trying to learn everything about wine, it naturally means that you love it as well, and maybe sometimes, you get carried away if it is a fine one. Again, tasting wines does not mean you have to turn into an alcoholic!
Anyway, the great part about writing down your remarks, is that it helps you keep the characteristics of the wine written and you have the ability to distinguish and tell the exact differences between previous or future tastes. So, buy yourself a wine journal or even better, make one! It will have your personal touch after all.
Some of the notes you can keep in your journal are:
- Name of the wine
- Name of the store or restaurant
Take Things Gradually!
It doesn’t matter if can afford tasting expensive and high-rated wines. You can take things gradually and start with low-priced wines in the beginning. Besides, a high priced wine does not always guarantee a high-quality one. It is quite a temptation, I know, but try to expand your taste first by tasting the wines you can easily afford and then you will be able to rate and appreciate top wines better.
Try Some Classics!
In order for you to take basic hints about the possible tastes, flavors and aromas in a wine, try some of the basic grape variety wines available. They will help you establish some standards and you will find your way around them in a more structured way.
Some great grape varieties to begin with are:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Syrah / Shiraz
Take them one by one and you will be in a position to form your own personal opinion.
Attend Wine Events!
Did you know that there is a variety of wine events and wine festivals throughout the whole year round? Well, there are! Some of them are hosted by your city and others are hosted from wine bars, magazines and restaurants. They can be events where you can learn about wines, wine tasting events where you try different kinds of wines or even, new wine introduction events where you get the chance to be one of the first people to rate a wine preparing to enter the market!
You see in almost all of those events there are experts that will give you tips, exchange their views over some wines and most importantly will answer a sum of questions you might have. Overall, these events are quite helpful and valuable, whether you are sociable or not. Why don’t you give it a try?
Go for Forums and Discussion Groups!
In case you are not feeling like networking in person, try doing it through the internet. There are tons of forums and groups in social media like Facebook, etc. where you can exchange thoughts, opinions and experiences on wines with other people. Of course, you weren’t expecting that you were the only one out there. There are other people who are interested in the learning more about the wine field and make their own personal attempts. So, not quite the extrovert person, don’t worry! The internet is an alternative to start!
Wine Blogs are an Excellent Source of Information!
Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, you have to check some wine blogs. They are the free source of information and even if you don’t believe it, they can become your most valuable asset in your time to come. They provide a bunch of information such as wine reviews, wine suggestions, facts and tips on winemaking and wine tasting, to name a few. Plus, it’s free, so if you are not in the mood of reading another wine book or you do not want to spend more money on them, wine blogs and magazines are the solution.
Take some time and check 10 great wine blogs to start at the time
- Wine Searcher – www.wine-searcher.com
- Wine Folly – www.winefolly.com
- Wine Enthusiast – www.winemag.com
- Wine Spectator – www.winespectator.com
- French Scout – www.frenchscout.com
- Wine Anorak – www.wineanorak.com
- Dr. Vino – www.drvino.com
- Wine Terroirs – www.wineterroirs.com
- Cellar Tracker – www.cellartracker.com
- Decanter – www.decanter.com
There are certainly many more wine blogs that you check on, but I will leave the rest for you to discover!
Visit A Wine Region!
Well, I imagine that at some point, you will want to take a trip somewhere. Why don’t you take a trip to a wine region, a wine village if you prefer? There are quite a few options around the world and they can be a fun way to combine knowledge, fun and relaxation. You will learn a lot about the history of wine and its process and get the chance to taste some traditional local wines as well. Plus, you will get the chance to meet directly experts on the field and most of them are more than willing to share their experiences and related tips.
Here are some quite nice options:
- Tuscan, Piedmont and Veneto in Italy
- Champagne, Bordeaux, Loire and Provence in France
- Valencia, Catalonia, Murcia and Andalucía in Spain
- Napa and Sonoma in California, USA
- Ahr, Baden, Nahe and Württemberg in Germany
You may check for more as the choices are endless if you decide to take my advice and go for a trip combination.
Spend Four Hours Tasting Wine!
You should spend not one, not two but four hours tasting wine! But what difference does it make! It actually does! Dr. Alex Russell distinctly refers to the University of Sydney News that: “During my PhD, I had novices come into the lab to smell and taste lots of wines. In most cases, we had them in the lab for an hour and they didn’t learn much. But if they stayed just 30 minutes longer they started to show signs of improvement and after four hours, they were doing really well”.
So, there! Now you know why! Try to hold a wine tasting for about 4 hours and see how it works. You can even arrange to do it with a company so that you all get to see its effect.
It is OK to Make a Mistake!
When most of us start attending wine tasting events or try our tasting knowledge in front of others and make a mistake, it is only natural to feel embarrassed. But you know what? Just stop it! Nobody ever learned by not making a mistake. Besides, even wine experts made mistakes and guess what! We now call them WINE EXPERTS!
So it is OK to make a mistake and keep on trying. At some point, after you have tasted some wines and developed your taste palate, you will be able to keep a great score of correct evaluations!
There a lot of ways to keep yourself constantly challenged with knowledge above wines.
You can read books or you can get info and educate yourself from wine blogs. You can even do both.
You can attend wine events and test your acquired knowledge in wine tastings taking place in some kind of festival or even at your own apartment among friends and relatives. Hell, you can do everything you want, and the above can prove a valuable bunch of tips to guide you through the whole process. Well, don’t take my word for it! Just give the above a try!
Do you think I might have left any valuable steps out in becoming a wine expert? If you do, then I would love to read them in your comments…Well, get some knowledge and get out there! Click To Tweet