Chassagne-Montrachet, Burgundy Wine Region, France. October 2010
In reality, all you need to get started on your journey is a decent wine glass (a whole other subject!) and a bottle of wine. But I would add one more thing that will make your journey much more interesting and enjoyable….an open mind.
There is no right or wrong to what wines you like. Different people like different things. There are so many wines out there to taste. Just try not to get stuck on one varietal (grape), but rather, experiment with a few. For reds, try not only Cabernet Sauvignon, also try Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Syrah, Grenache, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, etc. Beyond these lie the blends like the Bordeaux, Super Tuscans, Rhones, etc. Again, another whole discussion. For whites, don’t just taste Chardonnay, but branch out to Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Pinot Grigio and Riesling, for example.
Go to wine tastings. They are everywhere. In wine bars, wine stores, at winery tasting rooms, at special wine events, in the supermarket, in restaurants, in wine classes and seminars. Wine is very popular, so get out there and give it a swirl, pun intended!
James Suckling’s Bordeaux tasting, Barker Hangar, Santa Monica, January 2011
Another thing that is very helpful as you progress on your journey is to read a few publications like Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, either in print or online. As I have progressed in my journey, I have added the British wine publication Decanter subscription to my iPad. But, I must admit, I love the print version of the Wine Spectator. It is large, easy to read, has nice paper, is light and still fits into my computer bag for when I travel. Barnes and Noble is a great place to pick up the print versions of them until you are ready to go for a subscription. When you really enter the world of wine geekdom, check out some specialty blogs and online publications. I will cover this whole genre separately. If you have a specific question about any, please leave it below.
Invite a few friends over and open a few different, inexpensive wines to taste. Make notes about them and any wines in general that you like. Just like keeping a food diary. One strong opinion I do have, however, is not to buy a case of just one wine, unless you are having a party. I have made this mistake in the past. it is restrictive to your wine journey and gets you into the rut of always drinking the same thing. If you want to get a case of wine, get a MIXED case…a few different wines of a few different varietals (grapes).
Take a class. Seek them out in your area with an online search. They are fun, informative and inspiring. If you live in a large metropolitan area, you should have no problem finding one, especially at a wine store. An especially interesting one is on how to taste wine. It is an art unto itself, and of course, a subject for its own posts. Total Wine, a chain of stores in the west and southeast, has classes from time to time as well as in store tastings. They also have a very nice catalog that has tasting sheets for white and red wines that you can photocopy for your own tastings at home.
Palate Builder Tasting Class, Learn About Wine, Los Angeles, March 2011
Until next time…à votre santé !
The beautiful grapes in the header of this blog are Cabernet Sauvignon at the Croix de Mission vineyard at Domaine des Rochelles that I photographed in Anjou, in the Loire Valley of France, on September 24, 2011. I spent a lovely day at Le Tasting Room with Cathy and Nigel Henton at their picturesque property. I enjoyed a tutored tasting and presentation about the wines of the region, a wonderful wine and food pairing luncheon in their cave and a tour of the vineyards where the grapes were photographed.