Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How do I get into wine??

Many people, when they learn what I do for a living, want to know how to "get into" wine. I think this is because the world of wine, much like the world of coffee, cars, furniture, or anything else that takes a bit of discernment in taste, can be extremely intimidating to a novice. Lucky for these folks, wine is something that can be gotten into with very little up front investment or knowledge necessary. One caveat- once you start down this slippery slope, don't be surprised to find yourself saying "Which of the new releases of Chateauneuf du Pape do I need? This one only costs $109, and it scored 97 points. The kid's college fund can wait for a week..." and so forth.
The first step is to find some friends that are interested in wine, too. I wouldn't seek out your wine-geekiest friend, as this will only frustrate you. Find someone who knows just as little as you do. Take said friend(s) to a liquor store, and buy a couple of bottles. They don't have to be expensive, but buy a variety of things. Start with riesling, chardonnay, pinot grigio, merlot, cabernet, and shiraz for instance. Then, arrange a time with said friends, open the wines, drink them, and WRITE DOWN your impressions. Write down what you liked about it. Don't worry about your wine-speak yet, you will get there. It's okay if you don't like them- just write down why. Also, don't worry about being able to taste every little nuance in the wine- for more help on this, read my blogs about how to taste wine.
The next step- Repeat. Seriously. Repeat this process, with different wines each time, as many times as you can afford to. Remember, just because you didn't like one particular bottle, don't write that varietal off forever. Maybe you don't like that varietal, which is possible, but it's more likely that you just don't like that particular example of that varietal.
Now, start going to wine tastings at retail stores. Don't be the person that goes to every single one, and doesn't buy anything. Go to a store that you like, and I wouldn't visit more than one or two tastings per week.
After you have spent weeks, months, maybe even years doing this, go out and buy a book about wine. Start with Wine for Dummies, or Windows on the World- these are great resources. Read the book all the way through (of course, while drinking a glass of wine). Then, go buy a copy of Wine Spectator or some other publication. You already did this, didn't you? You didn't buy a subscription yet did you? Oh, that's okay. We all do it.
Now start seeking out classes at your local retail wine shops. Some are free, and some may cost a small amount. These will really help you get to know what you like.
From here, the journey really gets precarious. This is where most people either really dig in, or just coast along (which it perfectly fine!). Now you are at the point where you start pulling up message boards, start talking about mailing lists, and buy special glasses to hold your burgundy. From here, you are in charge of your own wine-geeky destiny. It's a lot of fun! You will meet some of the craziest, obnoxious, fun people out there, but it's a blast. I'll see you at the bar.

Today, step away from the wine and toast the oncoming of fall with a Manhattan. That's right- the cocktail that your grandpa used to drink that made his breath smell funny. Mix 5 parts of your favorite bourbon with one part sweet vermouth, shake, serve either straight up or on the rocks, and top off with a cherry. This is the perfect company for a windy, rainy, cool fall night.




  1. I like how you threw furniture in there with discerning taste...we design people appreciate that. The Manhattan is also Jordan's favorite drink...we'll toast to you guys!