In my favorite non-Disney franchise, Harry Potter, a message of hope is shared with Hogwarts students by Mr. Potter:
"Every great wizard in history has started out as nothing more than what we are now: students. If they can do it, why not us?" Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
It is one of my favorite quotes. It gives me courage when I feel like a newbie. It motivates me to keep learning and trying. My message to you all, everyone you encounter who knows stuff about wine - started knowing nothing. They followed a passion to learn. Remembering I too was a new student to wine years ago, I understand what it feels like to be overwhelmed by wine. Which is why I wanted to share some of my favorite resources for and how to learn about wine.
The way I was told to learn about wine was threefold: Read, Learn, Taste.
Beginner: Wine Folly by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack
Intermediate: Great Wine Made Simple by Andrea Immer Robinson
Advanced: The Sommelier Prep Course by Michael Gibson
For fun: Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker
Food & Wine
If there is a wine company or vineyard you like - see if they have a website or Instagram account so you can learn more about them and their wines.
Take classes! While the COVID-19 world has halted in-person wine classes and tastings - they will happen again! Local wine stores often offer free tastings - a great way to see what you like (and don’t). Adult Education Centers and wine shops offer paid classes in a wide variety of topics. Maybe about red wines of France or pairing wines with cheese. Classes help support what you read in the books, allows you to ask questions real time, and meet awesome new wine friends.
Yes, you’ll taste in classes. This section is about tasting at home! The best kind of homework if you ask me. When you open a bottle of wine at home, really study it. Really look at it, really smell it, really taste it. Read about it online. Reference the books you read! Drinking a Malbec? Open to the page on Malbecs while you read.
Start a wine journal. Record your notes about the wine, including the basics likes name and grape, as well as your notes on flavors. Don't forget whether or not you liked it! This is a great way to support studying the wine, as well as a record of wines you enjoy.
When you go to a wine shop. Wander around (if you are reading this in 2020 - use hand sanitizer and wear a mask!) and select bottles you haven’t tried yet. Some online retailers let you browse their inventories online so you can do some advanced planning. It is a nice way to browse from the comfort of your home before you head to the shop. Don’t be afraid to ask the shop employees to help. (We will cover asking for assistance in another blog).
Download the app Vivino. You can log the wines you drink and your notes about them. It is a nice catalog of what you’ve tasted. You can also use it as a way to find information about wines by using the search function.
Watch movies. The Somm documentary films are excellent. There are three (Somm, Somm: Into the Bottle and Somm III) available on multiple streaming services.
Also check out the classics of Sideways and Bottle Shock.
This is only some of the resources out there. The resources I included here are the ones I enjoy; the ones I’ve personally used and go back to over and over again.
Any resources you’d recommend?
~Cheers & Ears