To me, wine is the combination of two of my favorite things — geography and food, so I absolutely gobble up learning new things about it. You can get familiar with a taste of a place. You can inhale the aromas of everything from grapefruit and lychee to ripe cherries and chocolate. And in some wines, you even get more savory scents like sautéed mushrooms or butter. When you’ve got a great glass of wine in hand, just a quick swirl will release a whirlwind of never-ending scents. It’s like a liquid form of Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about wine, but just didn’t know where to start? My interest in wine started in my early twenties and has evolved from only sipping syrupy sweet house Rieslings to now enjoying quite a few different varietals. It’s something I’ve always been interested in learning more about and it’s taken me some time, some studying, and lots of tasting to discover the wines that are right for me. I’ve learned more about wine in the past year than I have in the last ten years combined, and it has a lot to do with these five sources below.
From books to blogs, these have been my favorite resources for learning more about wine.
Learn About Wine With These 5 Resources
1. Vivino App
Downloading this app should be the first thing you do. It’s something I’ve just started using recently and it’s made cataloging and remembering wines that I like so much easier. Vivino is essentially a wine journal that allows you take a picture of the label and save it, then the app will automatically look up the wine and all of it’s information for you including ratings, a detailed description, and average price. But, before you read anyone else’s tasting notes, I encourage you to write a few of your own and rate the wine by giving it one star to five stars. This will become a database of your personal choices and notes about wine.
I subscribe to several wine blogs, and the one thing I think you’ll find they all have in common is that they’re peppered with humor and fun. Learning about wine should be fun. No room for wine snobs here. The two blogs I recommend most are Wine Folly and Wine Wankers. Wine Folly is just full of great tutorials and videos. It’s so straight forward and fun that any sense of intimidation you feel about wine will evaporate. Wine Wankers is a bunch of really funny Aussies that are great about giving you the scoop about what’s going on in the wine world and new wines to try. Also, the Vivino app mentioned above has a pretty good blog too.
If you want to get more in depth than what the blogs have to offer, then there are some books that I highly recommend. The first is the Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil. Karen has a great way of describing sensations and flavors with examples in how this relates to food. Such as, when you have a tea that is too tannic, you add milk. So, when you have a tannic wine (don’t add milk to it) but pair with with a meal that’s got some creamy fats in it such as a cheesy pasta.
The next book I’d recommend is The Sommelier Prep Course book. Even if you don’t plan on becoming a Sommelier, it’s a great reference guide that will give you the A-to-Z about wine, how it’s made, and all the different countries it’s grown in. Plus, there are quizzes at the end of each chapter so you can test your new found knowledge.
And the last book I’d recommend is the World Atlas Of Wine. This is another great reference book, but this one is so gorgeously put together with such breathtaking photos and detailed maps that you’ll want to show it off on your coffee table.
If you recall, last spring I took an online course about California wines with San Fran Wine School. This was a great way to pace myself and be held accountable with weekly lessons and assignments due. The lessons were a bit like a presentation or lecture, but I found that there was a lot of interaction with the instructor and the other students through the class chat rooms and discussion about each appellation. Wine tastings were part of our weekly homework assignments, so I became a lot more confident in navigating a wine store and asking questions. If you’d like to take an online course with San Francisco Wine School, you can use the discount code “SIP100” for $100 off any class.
Recently I attended a week-long immersion course in Miami with the United States Sommelier Association while on assignment for Visit Florida. I found the biggest benefit of taking a class in person is tasting and comparing wines. Within one week, we must have tasted over 100 wines and compared them side-by-side with scents included in a wine aroma kit to sharpen our sense of smell and our ability to recognize different aromas. It’s open to novices to intermediate, and I think anyone with an interest in wine would love it.
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