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March 10, 2008

Wine 101

At a recent wine tasting I realised again how many wine lovers are eager to learn more about wine but often feel intimidated by the subject, and the sheer volume of knowledge that it seems to require to master the art of tasting wine. It certainly is daunting, but not impossible to achieve. A few basic steps and some dedication will soon bring its rewards.

To start of with, you need to start smelling. Everything from the grass in your backyard to the mushrooms in your soup. Absorb and concentrate on smells as you walk through fruit and veg shops, sniff the avo, touch the fresh herbs and smell your fingers, think of the aromas around you and store them away in your memory bank, flowers, lavender, spices. When you eat, at home or in restaurants, try and identify the different herbs and spices used. Read the menu and see if you can pick up the flavours of the food as described in the description. Have a basic wine book on hand and start reading the descriptions, it will seem like Greek at first but will slowly become part of your vocabulary and will make wine tastings a lot less foreign.

Start with a wine book like the John Platter and read the description of the bottle of wine you drink regularly, then go and find the fruit and spices the description refers to and smell them. Next open your bottle of wine and see if you can recognize the flavours. If you can't at first, don't despair, practise makes perfect!

And above all attend as many tutored wine tastings as possible.

Happy tasting

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