Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
No. of Recommendations: 11
How can I become more educated about wine? Do I just need to drink more wine (which I have no problem with)? Are there some good websites? Maybe a book, even?

Hi Eric,
Welcome to the wine board! I think you'll find that most of the posters here are continuing learners and we are all happy to share our most recent experiences and wine finds. Here are some of my suggestions for learning more about wine:
1. Throw out all of your pre-conceived notions about wine. Be open to all types of wine - sweet to dry to bubbly. Each type of wine has a right time and place, or food it will work with. You will clearly have preferences and over time, with experience, your preferences will evolve. Don't limit yourself by always sticking with stuff you already know you like.
2. Go ahead and buy a book or two. I think my first wine book was Hugh Johnson's Encyclopdia of Wine. It's a good reference and you can keep it handy for when those terms you are not familiar with come up. Jancis Robinson has published several good books - make sure you stick with books for beginners right now. I've never read either of these but people have good things to say about Windows On The World Wine Course and Wine for Dummies.
3. There are some DVD/videos out there you might find interesting as well. I checked on Netflix and there are a couple of wine titles but the one that seems appropriate for you is called Wine Fundamentals. I have not seen it but it's worth checking out.
4. Check with local colleges and universities to see if they offer continuing education courses in wine. These are often taught by local wine professionals. Some wine shops and specialty food stores offer regular series of wine course that often include food pairing. There are several wine societies that offer courses. Check out The Society of Wine Educators. Search the internet and you will find all sorts of resources. It's amazing how many people are posting their tasting notes on-line. There are some great e-newsletters. I'm a big fan of The various print magazines are great sources of information about wines from all over the world. Don't treat them as the final arbiter of taste on wine, but use their recommendations to expand your choices/experiences.
5. Taste as often as possible! Learning about wine is best done with the tasting experience. It makes all the things you read in the books much more real, personal, and relevant. Many wine shops offer free tastings once or twice a week. Some charge a nominal fee but that is still cheaper than buying each of those bottles yourself. Finally, experiment with different wines in price ranges you are comfortable with.
6. Take notes. This is more important in the beginning because you have not developed what I call "palate memory." It comes with lots of tasting experience. Don't worry if many of your notes look the same - you will develop a bigger descriptive vocabulary for wine with experience. If you attend a tasting of Cabernets from California's Alexander Valley, for instance, many of your notes for each wine will be the same. You are tasting one varietal (cabernet) from a specific region and they will all have many things in common. With experience you will be able to pick out some of the more subtle differences. Some people buy lovely notebooks specifically designed for tasting notes. I find those too difficult to lug around - especially when travelling. I keep a small notepad with me at all times. It works for me because it fits in my purse or a pocket and I am less likely to forget to bring it with me. I can transfer the notes I want to keep to a larger book or electronic file later. Just as in school, there is something about the physical act of writing something down that imprints the information on your brain.

Learning about wine can sometimes seem more difficult than it needs to be. There is a whole subset of society that uses whatever wine knowledge it has like a cudgel to prove how superior it is - no matter how small that knowledge really is. Ignore those people and don't get sucked into their small minded world. One of the facets of wine that appealed to me was the fact that I will never know everything there is to know about wine. I will always be learning and trying something new. Each vintage is different so even the things I thought I knew can change.

Print the post  


What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.