Breaking into the wine world can be intimidating. Wine is a beverage with a cult following, with endless varieties and a deep complexity, and as someone new to this culture, it’s often hard to know where to start. However, these basic steps will help you get your foot in the door and decide if you’d like to explore this culture further. Although true wine buffs may scoff at this advice, these tips will help the wine virgin to break into this fascinating world.
Judge A Wine by Its Label
Although you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you should judge a wine by its label. Don’t focus on packaging here; it’s not wise to buy a wine just because the bottle is pretty. But flip the bottle to its backside. If it does not tell you anything about how the wine will taste, move on. Instead, stick with wines that actually describe the product, so you will have an idea of what you are buying. Look for descriptions that excite you, whether that’s promising notes of green apple or chocolate. You’ll have a basic idea of what you will be drinking instead of dropping money on a bottle that you will hate. Barefoot is a good beginner’s brand, because it’s easy to find, it’s fairly cheap, and almost all of their varieties have descriptions on the back label.
Find Your Preference
Like many great things, wine is somewhat of an acquired taste. The problem is trying to acquire that taste if you really just don’t like what you’re drinking. The first step to distinguishing what wines you may or may not like before you acquire the palette of a sommelier is to divide all wines into three groups: dry, semi-dry and semi-sweet, and sweet. “Dry” is simply the absence of sweetness, “sweet” is obviously sweet, and “semi-dry” or “semi-sweet” are somewhere in between. Try a few wines that have the “dry” or “sweet” markings on their labels, determine which you prefer, and stick to that group until you are ready to explore other wines. After you begin to deepen your palette, use the semi-dry or semi-sweet wines as a go between, and when you become more comfortable with this group, branch out to the wines you may have disliked before you began to train your palette. For example, if you already enjoy sweet wines, such as Moscato, and you are ready to try something new, sample a semi-dry Lambrusco before diving head first into a dry Chardonnay.
Forget Proper Wine Etiquette
Don’t be put off by all of the advice on how to properly sample wine. It takes practice to get the swirling, swishing, and spitting down, and it is natural to find the process a little embarrassing at first. But barring a visit to a high scale restaurant or wine bar, no one really cares if you do it correctly. Instead, sample your wine in a way that comes naturally to you, or the way in which you sample all beverages for the first time. You’ll get to enjoy your vino instead of wondering how many people are critiquing your technique. With this in mind, when you are ready to branch out to the next step, do swish the wine around in your mouth, similar to the way you would use mouthwash. The complexity of wine is best sensed when all of your tastebuds are used, registering different tastes and flavors.
Although these tips will not, by any means, make you a wine expert, they will help you with a basic introduction to the wonderful world of wine.