Are you tired of being wine-challenged? Do you dread ordering a bottle at a restaurant for fear of being thought a fool? Do enjoy wine but would like to enjoy it more? Well, you can take comfort in knowing that these problems are more easily rectified than you may imagine. Just keep in mind that as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you have to start somewhere.
Let these 5 baby steps be the first on your way to greater strides on the path to becoming a “wine expert.”
1. Know How a Wine Should Look
Be aware that before a drop of wine even touches an expert’s lips, their evaluation of it has already begun. What are they looking at first? A wine’s color, opacity, sparkle and clarity. The best wines have a rich, deep colors (as opposed to semitransparent ones) and should be sparkle with clarity.
2. Know How a Wine Should Smell
To be considered a quality wine, it must have a truly pleasant aroma. Swirl the wine around the glass for a few moments and let the aroma rise up to you. It should smell strong, yet pleasing and not overpowering. If it makes you crinkle your nose or makes your eyes water, chances are it isn’t that good.
3. Know How a Wine Should Taste
Only after you’ve used your eyes and nose is it time to let your taste buds have some fun. The taste should be smooth, supple and evenly balanced. If one flavor dominates over the rest, or you find the taste overly strong, it’s probably only an average wine.
4. Join a Wine Club
This is a simple and affordable way to educate yourself. After all, the wines you receive have been tested and recommended by experts. Take their cue and pay close attention to the details of each wine you sample, using the above criteria. The WSJ Wine Club is a great choice with a lot of variety and special deals.
5. Develop a Wine Palate
Start off with modest wines then move up. Begin with a variety you know you like and then expand from their, tasting from different vintages and wineries. You’ll gradually begin to find subtleties in the flavor that you never noticed before.
Remember to always swish the wine around in your mouth rather than immediately swallowing it. Watch this video, “Tasting Wine the Right Way,” for some more pointers.
All the best on your quest to becoming a sommelier, or at least an educated wine lover. For a little fun exercise, once you think you’ve got the goods, test yourself out by taking a quiz at wineeducation.com. Enjoy, and as the great comedian W.C. Fields once said, “I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”