1-Taste, taste, taste, yes! like everything else, practice makes perfect here too! try to taste as much as possible, take advantage of in-store tastings, go to events (when those are back), and experiment buying a different wine every weekend. Don't be shy, think outside the box, nobody says you must drink always the same variety or brand.
2-Smell, Smell, Smell, yes! if you really want to recognize all the aromas in wines, you will need to train your nose. Smell everything, not just wine, fruits, flowers, herbs, minerals, earth, spices, meats, etc.
3-Buy a set of good wine glasses, of course you can drink from a cup too, but if you are going to be serious about wine, you need proper wine glasses: Riedel, Spiegelau, Jancis Robinson’s or Andrea Robinson's are my favorites.
4-Become friends with your wine store guy/gal. Until you know what you like, your wine store guy/gal can let you know about sales and specials, but also he/she can give you advice about wine styles, grapes, matching of food and wine, etc.
5-Don’t always buy the most expensive wine or the cheapest in the list. Well, those that have money think that this is the easiest shortcut, I’m going to buy the most expensive wine and it should be good? Well, sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn't. Buy things that you like, and trust your palate. I have a confession to make, I do read wine scores, but only follow the critics whose palates I like. I had my share of surprises in the past, when I purchased wines that received 90 + pts and yet I didn’t like them and couldn't understand why they received those ratings.
6-Visit wine regions, you can start small, like finding out if there are any wine regions near you, for those that live in NY, go to Long Island or the Finger Lakes. Take a winery tour, learn how wine is made (so nerdy of me to plan vacations near wine regions!). Of course, check before hand that they are open and keep social distance.
7-Learn to spit your wines, I know what you are going to say but I want to drink my wine and feel the booze! if you are tasting only 1 or 2 wines that will be ok, but if you plan to taste more, the only way you will be able to do this is by spitting. If you don’t want to make a mess, keep a plastic cup handy with you to spit and then dump it into the sink or bucket (if you are at a wine event).
8-Drink plenty of water, though wine is divine… it will dehydrate you... so drink water to avoid this, and avoid getting drunk too. 1 glass of water per glass of wine should prevent you from making a full of yourself. And have some food, plain crackers will work, avoid tasting with an empty stomach.
9-Read wine books, here are some of my favorites: Karen MacNeil’s "The Wine Bible", Andrea Robinson’s "Great Wines Made Simple", Mary Ewing Mulligan and Ed Mc Carthy’s "Wine, all in one for Dummies" , Jancis Robinson's "The 24 Hour Wine Expert". You want to get technical? Jancis Robinson's "Oxford Wine Companion", Oz Clarke's "Encyclopedia of Grapes", Emile Peynaud's "Knowing and Making Wine", David Bird's "Understanding Wine Technology", etc.
10-Lastly, read my blog, you can start here: Tasting Basics, Vinification, Basic grapes: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Matching Food and Wine, Buying a mixed case of wine. So, there you have it, my 10 tips for wine beginners! Cheers, Silvina.
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