If you are an oenophile (wine lover), you may have considered becoming a connoisseur. Fortunately, you don't have to be a winemaker or have a cellar to appreciate fine wine. With a notebook and a few bottles of wine, you can do it.
Method 1 of 4: Learning the Basics of Recognizing Grapes
Step 1. Drink wine considering the 4 Main Steps
Even if you don't know much about wine, you probably know that there is a special way to drink it. Of course, you can drink wine any way you want – but to get the best out of the taste and aroma of wine, an art guide has been set up. Here are the four Main Steps:
- See. Check the color of the wine. As the grapes get older, the whites will get darker and the reds will get lighter. The existing colors can also tell you about the aging process used. For example, a bottle of Chardonnay. This wine will be golden in color if stored in an oak crate.
- Stir. Coat the sides of the glass by gently stirring the wine. This will give off the aroma of the wine, helping you to taste the drink that is in front of you.
- Breathe. If you drink white wine, look for citrus or tropical scents, such as lemon and lime, or even melon. You may also be able to recognize the smell of vanilla or oak. In general, cooler places will produce wines with a citrusy, tangy aroma. If the wine is red, look for a berry or plum scent. Cool places will produce wines that smell like red berries (such as strawberries and cherries), while warm places will produce wines that are berry-scented with dark colors (such as blackberries or plums). You may also recognize the aromas of coffee, smoke, and chocolate in wine coming from a cold place.
- sip. This step is a combination of taste and aroma. As you take a sip of wine, ask yourself whether you like it or not. Then you can determine the reason.
Step 2. Get to know your "tannin" and "terroir"
Oenophiles and connoisseurs will often use the term "tannin". Tannin is a natural element in grapes that makes it "dry." Try a very "dry" wine, and you'll see what the word tannin means (of course any liquid won't be dry). Tannins usually occur naturally in grapes (and bark and wood and leaves) and they add a bitter, tart, and complex flavor to the taste of the wine. For the record, tannins usually apply to red wines.
The "terroir" is basically the background of the grapes – the climate and type of soil where the grapes are grown, the topography and what other plants are also grown in the same area. This greatly affects the wine. Some American wines are bottled according to the type of wine, but European wines are bottled according to the region of origin. Terroir is the factor that makes wine fully wine
Step 3. Use the right temperature
Each type of wine should be served at a slightly different temperature to bring out the best taste. Here's what you should know before you throw a wine tasting gala and invite all your friends over to your house:
- Red wine should be served at room temperature, around 20-25°C
- Rose or pink wine should be served at a slightly chilled temperature (7-13°C)
- White wine and sparkling wine should be stored in the refrigerator below 5°C
- After the wine party is over, make sure you drink light wine (which contains less alcohol, about 11%) 3 days after the wine is opened. Other, more concentrated wines can be consumed for up to 10 days.
Step 4. Use the correct glass
Each type of wine has a specific shape and size of the glass to help bring out the best aroma. Get to know these types of glasses:
- A standard wine glass is usually effective for red wine. Cabernet Sauvignon should be poured into a shallow but tall surface, while Pinot Noir should be poured in a dose of about 30 to 60 ml.
- White wine can also use a standard wine glass – but a Chardonnay needs a glass with a wider mouth.
- The port must use a large strain; Madeira is poured into a glass hock; while Sherry fits a narrow martini glass.
- Sparkling wine goes well with coupe, tulip, or flute shaped glasses.
Step 5. Learn how to hold the glass
If you don't hold it properly, people will know you're not a connoisseur. To look like an expert holding and stirring wine naturally, hold the glass by the stem. The same goes for refrigerated white wine – you don't want the temperature of your hands to warm the wine glass and change the taste of the wine.
In stirring the wine, rotate with your wrist, not using your entire arm. The aroma of wine will fill the body of the glass, while opening the profile of the wine's taste
Step 6. Get in the habit of explaining the smell of wine
The main job of a wine connoisseur is to be able to explain how he feels and recognize what happened to the wine. To identify the aroma of wine, there are five general categories: fruity, mineral, dairy and nutty, sweet and wooden, and spicy and savory. Here's a further explanation of the "flavors" in each of these categories:
- Fruity (fruit flavor). All fruit flavors, including the aroma of jam
- Mineral. Flint, rocks, earth, fuel
- Dairy and nutty (flavor of nuts and dairy products). Butter, cream, yeast, bread, toast, toasted nuts, biscuits, almonds
- Sweet and wooden (sweet taste and woody aroma). Chocolate, confectionery, caramel, honey, vanilla, oak and cedar
- Spicy and savory (spicy and savory taste). Tobacco, cigarettes, licorice, pepper, truffles, salami, coffee, cinnamon
Method 2 of 4: Processing the Flavor
Step 1. Visit the wine shop and ask the staff for recommendations
Look for wine bottles that have written notes nearby, such as details of awards and high ratings from magazines. Visit the wine shop when the shop is giving away free wines to try – most wine shops usually do this on Saturday mornings. Analyze the thoughts of the staff – what are their favorites and why?
Plan your meals. This way, you can buy a wine that matches the taste of the food you're preparing and you can start exploring different combinations. As a rule of thumb, red wine will be drunk when you eat red meat; while white wine when you eat white meat. Champagne can be paired with almost any food, but master the basics first
Step 2. Take a local wine trial or wine appreciation class
Events like these are held at personality schools, winemaking schools, wineries, and fine restaurants. Don't be intimidated – many people think they can tell the difference between a cheap wine for Rp. 25,000,- and a fine one, but they really can't.
If you visit a winery, make time for more than just wine tasting. Learn how grapes are made and grown, as well as the correct procedure for drinking wine
Step 3. Join wine groups
Wine is trendy. There are bars, shops, newsletters/tabloids, even wine podcasts. Find a wine group in your area, it might be easier than you think. Hanging out with like-minded and connected people and knowing what's going on in your area is the first step to developing your skills.
Most groups have members of various levels – from those who want to have their own winery to those who just love drinking wine. You will also have your own place in your group
Step 4. Taste wine informally at your house or at a friend's house, or a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) restaurant where each person who arrives will bring a different bottle of wine
This way, you can experience a lot of new things without spending a lot of money. And don't forget, you'll get plenty of experience and wine!
Make sure you prepare a dessert to munch on or drink between your sips. Use plain pastries (such as water crackers) or bread (French bread; not whole-grain ones) and water. Graber's olive products and undercooked roast beef are also sometimes used for mouthwash. Stay away from cheese and fruits that are usually served with wine, because these two things will mask the taste of the wine
Step 5. Buy a notebook (or download an app to take notes)
Now that you're ready to dive into the world of wine, get something to help you remember your experiences. This could be a simple notebook and pen or an app on your phone (search for "wine diary" or something similar). This way you'll make sure you can remember which bottles you liked, disliked, and the characteristics of every wine you've tried.
Some pages like Cellartracker are community based. You can share and compare your notes with those of other oenophiles and join a community of wine lovers
Method 3 of 4: Train Your Mouth
Step 1. Start by exploring the available grape varieties
Many people start this by trying a fruity white wine with a subtle taste, and then stop there. You may know of several other types of wines that you can try – so start touching these wines! Try rose wine, and red wine. Even if you don't like it, at least now you know whether you like it or not.
Not only should you try different types of wine, but try other brands and years. Just because you don't like Chardonnay from one producer doesn't mean you won't like the same wine from another. Each wine is unique – and will sometimes depend on your mood
Step 2. Find the wine "Aha
" You. Many people spend years positioning themselves in the "Oh, I don't really care about robust red wine," or "Moscato is too sweet," and their skill and understanding stops there. Then an "aha" wine appeared. This is the wine, the wine that can make you taste the real aroma of cedar, smoke, or chocolate. Suddenly, you understand everything. And how to find your "aha" wine? Through a process of trial and error.
An "aha" wine doesn't have to taste good or delicious to you. This wine just has to be a wine where your mouth can recognize all the flavors it contains. The mouth becomes able to recognize the various aromas in a glass and know what it likes or dislikes, and why
Step 3. Start doing research
Now that you've mastered the basics, go out, get out of your circle and gather information. Read books and blogs about wine. Check out The New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia by Tom Stevenson or visit wineeducation.com, where you can also take quizzes to check your growing knowledge of wine. Buy guides for wine. Subscribe to wine magazines. The possibilities are endless.
- Subscribe to the free, online informative wine newsletter. Do a Google search to find trusted sites built for the wine-loving community.
- GrapeRadio is a podcast devoted to wine – even during peak hours, you can practice your skills.
Step 4. Be brave, and act bolder again and again
So you already know the taste of Pinot Grigio. You know the difference between a good Merlot and a good Cabernet. However, there is so much more you should know. You've learned the basics, so let's be brave. Here are some types of wine that you can try:
- Syrah / Shiraz
- Petite Sirah
- Mourvedre / Monastrell
- Touriga National
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Petit Verdot
Method 4 of 4: Becoming a True Connoisseur
Step 1. Expand your "wine explanation" diction
The main difference between a casual wine lover and a wine connoisseur lies in the fact that a connoisseur can talk about wine with confidence and accuracy. Here are some goals to aim for when describing your next few glasses of wine:
- You can name more than 2 types of fruit as a taste in wine
- You can name more than 3 other characteristics such as cinnamon, oregano, rose, lime or cooking spices
- The taste of the wine changes from the moment you sip it to the moment you swallow it, and you can identify the process
Step 2. Try sparkling wine, ice wine, and dessert wine
You've gotten a little more adventurous, now let's go a little off the beaten track: try other wines, such as sparkling, dessert, and ice wine (ice wine is made from frozen grapes). These wines may not be the wines you would taste along with a main course at a 5-star restaurant, but they are still essential wines.
Try wines from different locales and countries, such as New Zealand and British wines, or wines from South Dakota and Idaho. Don't limit yourself to just Californian or European wines – even when you're consuming sweet dessert wines
Step 3. Study the different grape varieties
Traditionally, high-quality wines were usually made from French grapes, but now the variety is widely used. Wineries are popping up in so many places, and your standard wine "terroir" is changing. What do you think about the taste of the wines from each region and the varieties available?
France, Italy, Spain, China, Turkey and the United States are major wine producers (though they are not the only wine producers), and all of these countries have specific varieties of grapes that can be grown in their respective regions. Because of this, wines from different parts of the world will have different flavors. What do you think about this?
Step 4. Go back to the basics
Now that you are an explorer in the wine world, return to the first wines you tried. You'll recognize the difference that makes you wonder who actually tasted the wines first, or how it was possible for them to undergo such a complete change – and while you may wonder, that's exactly what happened. Take a standard Chardonnay that has been in your cupboard for a long time and sip it, assessing your progress.
You will see more and more clearly how much your mouth has changed. You'll also get to know more about which wines you like and which ones you won't try again. For a real challenge, try identifying grapes with your eyes closed and see if you stick with it
Step 5. Find a wine school in your area
Many of these schools run courses or trials and offer a "certificate" or "accreditation" once you have completed it. Personality schools and local restaurants also sometimes host wine appreciation classes. When people ask you if you know anything about wine, you can mention that you even studied it.
Although, in fact, just like anything else, you don't need school to become a connoisseur. This is just an easy way to prove that you do have the ability
Step 6. Take the Court of Masters test
In the United States, to become a master sommelier, you must take the Court of Masters test. There are courses you can take (in which you must enroll), although you can take the test without taking the course. This is the highest level in the world of wine – also an honorable position.
The Court of Masters also provides international courses. There are currently only 140 Master Sommeliers in North America. Are you ready to be next?
- Pair wine with a dish, as you taste the wine and eat your dish, be aware of your experience and write down the best pairing.
- If you have the opportunity, take the time to be in a region known for its wine, such as the Bordeaux region of France. You will find many high quality wines at low prices and you can benefit from the local culture of appreciation for wine.
- Make your own wine cheaply at home. There are some starter kits that you can get from home supply stores or online; You'll learn about gravity, yeast, stages of fermentation, clarification, and adjusting yeast and flavorings like oak. The taste of the wine changes most rapidly during the fermentation period in the first few months.