I wouldn’t call myself a wine expert because I’m not one. If I could put a label to my relationship with wine it would be a capital L for learner. My textbook is the supermarket aisle that stores such a range of wines I’m left baffled and a little thirsty. My tastebuds take note of the different textures, but recall what is good not why. In all honesty, I’m the worst kind of student – the kind that listens while it’s interesting but zones out when we get to the nitty-gritty.
I never fooled myself that I was of the budding connoisseur caliber. My next-to-nothing knowledge has not limited my ability to enjoy good wine, and it is why I feel it my obligation to share my secrets with you fellow Ls and other wannabes. Let us begin the crash course into the world of wine tasting and selecting.
Stare. This is my first and most important piece of advice. I would strongly advise you spend a good part of your grocery time in the wine aisle staring intently at the great range of bottles. Feel a little dizzy? Take it by section! Start with the reds or the whites or the smaller, more manageable category of rosé. Once you start feeling comfortable, you will lose the initial signs of confusion and will soon realize that there is nothing wrong with choosing at random, if you’ve given the shelf its fair share of staring. It works wonders.
Try. This is of course the most important aspect for every learner. Branch out, try different wines and make a mental note of your likes and dislikes. Take a winery tour, if possible, and listen to guide explain how wine is produced, have a look at the big barrels in the basement, feel the chills running up your back from excitement but also because it’s damn cold down there. Wine tasting at a winery is the best way to learn what you like because you drink a little bit of everything. Avoid being the driver for the day and swallow every single drop of wine you’re given and focus on what tingles your tastebuds. Is it cabernet sauvignon? Do you prefer dry or semi-sweet? Find your category and you’ve already restricted the section of the supermarket you should be staring at. After the wine tasting, I would strongly encourage you to buy as much wine as you can; it’s straight from the source, it’s cheap and it will make for a great story while you enjoy it on a later date — especially if you rode there on your bicycle and actually took my advice to drink every wine to the last sip!
Avoid. Know what wines are considered too commercial and cheap. A good indication of this could be the price, but generally avoid brands such as Yellowtail. If you like Yellowtail and I have just burst your bubble of wine heaven, ignore this point and drink your way to a poor hangover. I have a bottle in the cupboard too, which I bought before I was given this very advice. Now all I have to do is give it as a present who someone who doesn’t read my blog — an easy feat.
Fellow learners, the rules are simple. If you want to read on, do so but if you want the easy way to good wine, follow my S-T-A method. It may make people look at you strangely as you spend 10 minutes staring at labels and selecting randomly while on your grocery run, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. Drink away, be merry and wear you’re L label with style. Some wineries are thankful we exist. It’s Ls like us that will try just about anything, even that god-awful stuff no one warned us about. Damn that misleading label…