There is a notion that wine experts have been born with some special skill…a particularly sensitive nose, or an intuition that helps them set apart the exquisite wines from the cheap rubbish. Or, that they have honed their craft over years of intense instruction and training. Fortunately, for anyone wanting to start out in the world of wine appreciation, both ideas are a myth. Anyone can be a wine connoisseur if they put their mind to it, and there are a few ways that the path can be a little quicker and smoother.
The first way to find out more about wine and its variants is to simply read. Read, read and read some more; not just about different types and styles, but on the history of wine as well. After all, a connoisseur is often educated, and should know all about where wine came from, how it has been developed, and what makes it the conversation piece and hobby that it is today. There are thousands of publications out there on the history of wine, as well as how to spot which wine comes from which region, and what separates a Merlot from a Chianti. Renowned Sommelier Jason Wagner of Henri and The Gage in Chicago confirms the importance of reading, advising “I think if you take a little time while you’re drinking wine to grab a book and do a little research on the region or the grape, that’s a great way to learn.”
Secondly, there are also some fairly affordable, and enjoyable courses and training sessions available for novices, newbies and seasoned wine lovers alike. It can be hugely beneficial to learn from someone who is already well versed in the world of wine. That’s not to say that one must go out and spend thousands on a course that takes several weeks and is held at an isolated finca in Spain. Very often, these are informal courses that last a day or two and introduce new try-outs to the wine expert field. Furthermore, what you don’t learn from the instructor, you’ll often pick up from the other people attending the courses who are always happy to share their knowledge with new wine lovers. Wine Folly advise that courses are run nationally and that there are four broadly accepted accrediting bodies; find a course with one of these qualifications, and you can be sure the knowledge gained is legitimate.
Lastly, the best way to become a wine connoisseur, if there is a set way, is to simply test out as many wines as you fancy (responsibly!) Wine Spectator advises new wine lovers to “make every sip count. Try as many wines as you can and find a way to keep a record of them—put a few notes in a journal or take photos of the bottles, anything you can do to start linking the data points together and make connections about what you’re observing.” Wines Direct have an excellent range of wines from all origins and variants and is an ideal starting point for a beginner as well as a definite port of call for wine experts. Over time, as any wine expert will testify, one will develop a sense of how a decent wine should smell, how it will taste, and how ‘diverse’ it is (how well it will go with certain food or in certain social situations.) This also foregoes all the pomp and circumstance that can come with moving in wine circles, and just allows any ‘wannabe’ wine lover to hone and develop their own personal tastes. Sure, it might be expected to favour one wine over another, but you’re getting into this over a love of wine. Tailor the experience so that, with each sip, the entire experience is about enjoyment and appreciation rather than airs and graces. Some of the best wines for many often cost in the single and low double digits.