A few things before we get started…
Most of us have a wine epiphany at some point – a kind of magical moment where the penny drops. Mine happened sometime during my stint manning the local drive-thru bottleshop. I’d been sent off to do an introductory wine course in an attempt to exorcise me of the ‘It’s either white or red – what else do you need to know?’ attitude that most 18-year-olds possess. It worked.
In fact, what I grew to appreciate during that course was that wine is an incredible collision point where art, science, history, geography, Mother Nature and people intersect. Somewhat miraculously – and thankfully – I found all of that fascinating, and to this day, twenty-two years later, I have never looked at wine any other way.
If I can learn about wine, anyone can learn about wine. It’s not difficult, although what you put in by way of effort is largely what you can expect back in return. Wine is my life, and I honestly couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Day to day, I write about it, teach it, buy it, judge it and most of all, I drink it. Lots of it. I love what I do; I don’t think of it as ‘a job’ and satisfaction for me is simply seeing people – people like you – become more confident, more comfortable and more enthusiastic about wine. That right there is the sole motivation and driving force behind The Drinks List.
Wherever you are on your ‘wine journey’ and whether you know a lot or a little, there’s always a way to further improve your wine drinking experience. Here are a couple of pointers well worth bearing in mind the next time you happen to find yourself with a wine list in your hands or staring blankly at a shelf full of bottles!
Co-founder, The Drinks List
Drink wines from different countries, different grape varieties and in different styles. This is how you learn.
There are plenty of great value bottles out there – you just need to know where to look for them.
Share your wine
That’s right, sharing wine with good people is one of the most satisfying things I think you can do – plus it will probably improve your tasting ability no end.
Do a wine course
There are plenty of them offered and for all different levels of knowledge and experience. Better still, rope in a few friends and do a course together. You’ll be amazed at how much you pick up in even a few hours.
Day trip to a wine region
There is nothing quite like tasting wine with the person that made it, in the place where it was made.
Drink your wine with food
It doesn’t have to be time consuming or costly and it’s yet another great way to develop your understanding of flavour, texture and the sometimes rocky/sometimes magic relationship that exists between food and wine.
Care about what you drink? Care about what you drink from
Decent glasses needn’t cost you a fortune, but they will make a huge difference to the taste of your wine. Store them in a well-ventilated place – not a cardboard box – and hand-wash them in warm soapy water rather than the dishwasher.
Don’t become complacent
Taste, talk, argue, listen, laugh, read, travel and, most importantly, keep an open mind when it comes to wine.
Ask! Ask! Ask!
Ask your sommelier. Ask the girl behind the counter of your local wine store. Ask the guy at the winery. No matter how stupid you think your questions may be, ask away. This is how you will learn more about wine.
Wine is for drinking
It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying wine to keep and then never getting around to drinking it before it starts its downward slide. Don’t get too precious about your bottles – open and share them.
Temperature is everything
Well maybe not everything, but more often than not we serve white wine too cool and red wine not cool enough. If wine is served at the wrong temperature you risk changing the aromatics, the flavours and the textures of a wine. And while 20 minutes in the freezer is OK, the microwave is definitely out of bounds.
Give it air
With the exception of the classics, few wines being produced today need to breathe for a long time. Get yourself a decanter and decant everything; all reds and most full-bodied whites will benefit from a quick burst of oxygen 10 to 15 minutes before you plan to serve them.
Respect your wine
Wine likes to be stored in a cool, dark spot away from vibration, and safe from the threat of thirsty housemates.
Keep it interesting
It’s easy to fall into a wine rut, so make it your business to try new things whenever you get the chance. Sommeliers, wine waiters and those behind the counter of your local are not out to get you. Put your faith in them and let them pick something for you.
If you’re not happy with your wine, don’t be afraid to tell the sommelier/wine waiter/salesperson about it. The more information you can give them – good or bad – the easier it will be for them to find you something you’ll love.