There’s no right or wrong way to learn about wine. Maybe you start by buying a different bottle each time you go to the store. Or you attend a tasting and sample something interesting with a friend. Perhaps you take a course and study the people, places and techniques involved.
No matter where you start, the most important thing to remember is that the journey is yours.
Be Open Minded
The first wine you taste might be something approachable, like a Moscato or Prosecco. The most common misconception new wine lovers have is that most wines will be just as sweet and easy-drinking as that first sip. Often, the transition from sweet or fizzy wines to dry or more nuanced bottles requires a little guidance.
You might not enjoy every wine you try, and that’s O.K. Start to expand your palate by sampling more fruit-forward wines with less residual sugar. That missing sweetness will be very noticeable at first, but keep an open mind. Focus on the fruit. Do you taste berries? Plums? Green apples? Lemons?
Zero in on specific flavors first, and then decide whether you find that glass enjoyable. Even if you don’t like this particular citrus-scented Pinot Grigio, you might enjoy the next one you try. All wines are not created equal. You’re bound to find one that piques your interest.
You can’t grow your palate without tasting as many wines as you can. This is the fun (and potentially expensive) part of the journey. Sample as many styles, grape varieties, countries and winemakers as you can. The more wines you try, the more you’ll discover and the more you’ll love.
Consider a Course
Two of the most widely available wine educational institutions are the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW). Each provides professional designations, but enthusiasts and industry professionals alike take these courses to expand their knowledge.
If you’re in the early stages of your wine journey, try classes that focus on the basics. Do some research to find the teacher and course best for you.
Enjoy the Accessories
From beautiful wine glasses to ornate decanters, corkscrews, refrigerators and every gadget in between, there are so many cool things that make wine even more enjoyable. Splurge only on the accessories you’ll use most often, and enjoy them each time you pour a glass.
Journey Around the World Through Your Glass
Wine gives you the ability to travel around the world from the comfort of your own home. Each wine expresses itself differently depending on its terroir—the climate, soil, terrain and tradition where it’s made. Where a grape is grown is just as important as the person growing the grapes and making the final product. If you discover more about what it takes to go from grape to glass, you can also learn the history, legacy and traditions of people you may never meet.
Try Everything Again
The more wine you sample, the more that you’ll train your palate to discover new flavors. As your palate adapts to drinking more wines void of residual sugars and made with a higher quality standard, you’ll probably enjoy more types and styles of wine than you did initially. It’s a good idea to revisit some of the wines you weren’t a fan of in the beginning of your journey. This allows you to see how much your palate has grown.
Regardless of where your journey began, it’s important to know that everyone will not end up in the same place. Each person has individual preferences affected by diet, allergies, associations and many other factors we can’t always control. It’s perfectly fine to not enjoy the same wines as your favorite wine professional or enthusiast. Your journey should be approached with the desire to learn, grow and fall deeper in love with wine.