Top Tips for Novice Wine Drinkers

There’s no way around it: the world of wine is daunting. So many varieties, vintages, and wine regions — where should you start? Many people throw their hands in the air, deciding to “leave wine to the experts”.

That’s a shame, if you ask us; of course, wine is complex, but we think it’s extremely enjoyable, too. By the end of these steps, you’ll not only know the difference between a Merlot and a Malbec, you’ll know which one you prefer, and why.

The Right Mindset

Before we begin, let’s talk about mindset. It’s important to relax and enjoy the process of trying different wines. Every now and then you’ll find wines you absolutely loathe — it happens to everyone. However, the magnificent moment of finding a wine you love more than makes up for these occasional disappointments. In short, wine appreciation is a journey, so buckle up, sit back, and enjoy it.

Start with Wines You Like, Then Branch Out

Have you ever used Pandora to find music you like? Their algorithm is based on a simple idea: identifying the genres, instrumentation, and rhythms that you like, then suggesting similar songs. You can take a similar approach to finding wines you like; the best way is finding a website or book to guide you.

Let’s say you like Pinot Noir. Generally, a pinot noir is going to have notes of strawberries, cherries, and some spice. It’s also relatively sweet. After doing some research, you’ll find that some similar wines include Gamay Noir from Burgundy, or the increasingly-popular Spanish Mencia.

Learn the Fundamentals

You know that book or website we recommended you find? Now it’s time to read it! A beginning wine taster should focus on learning some of the basics, including:

  • Learning to read wine labels (and understanding how they differ from country to country)
  • How to take your own tasting notes and use them to find new wines you enjoy
  • Learning how to “sniff, swirl, and slurp”
  • Finding great food pairings for different wines
  • Finding the proper temperature at which each wine should be served
  • Buying a simple set-up to preserve your wine (wine pump systems like the Vacu Vin are relatively inexpensive and work just fine for a beginner)

5. Find the Right Store

Finally, no wine lover’s life is complete without a well-stocked wine-seller. In some cities, this means finding a wine club, or getting something special-ordered. But truly, nothing beats a store with a knowledgeable staff when it comes to finding recommendations, and a good price.

As with anything you want to learn, one of the best ways to learn about wine is to simply ask an expert about it. Wherever your road to wine appreciation leads you, we hope you have fun, drink responsibly, and keep an open mind (and palate)!

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