If you’re drinking wine consistently, shouldn’t you appreciate it a little more? That’s the question that Caroline Conner, wine coach and sommelier, poses on the topic of how lesser-versed wine drinkers can better connect with what’s in their glass.
“It makes me sad that wine lovers decide that it isn’t worth learning about this thing that they love,” explains Conner. “In what other area of your life would you spend that much time and money on something without knowing a thing about it?”
Whether you’re an amateur imbiber or learning to relish the craft and art of winemaking, there are certain steps you can take to ensure you better appreciate your wine. “You don’t have to get professional qualifications, you don’t need to earn a pin or anything like that, but you really ought to do yourself the favor of learning, because it really makes it better,” says Conner.
Though many sommeliers will echo Conner’s sentiment, as well as enforce that you should be drinking what you love based on your individual tastes (not what someone else tells you that you should love), there are a few other details that wine experts want you to know when it comes to better appreciating the pressed grapes in your glass—here are five tips to get started.
“Google the name of the wine, the appellation and the location. Try to spot where the wine comes from on a wine map or Google maps. The more you know the stronger your appreciation; you enjoy a good basketball game more if you know about rules, players, tactics.) — Roman Horvath, MW and winery director at Domäne Wachau
Rethink how you order your wine
“If you don’t know which wine to order, tell the somm how you take your morning coffee. Sweetened drip coffee with cream, a double shot of espresso, or a cold glass of juice—your choice guides us in selecting the best wine for your tastes.” — Dana Beninati, sommelier
Take the time to taste
“There is definitely a difference between tasting and drinking. Tasting can be a five second moment or a five minute one, but it basically means giving yourself the time and mental space to actually notice what you’re seeing, smelling, and then finally, tasting. Even us industry folks don’t do the whole swirly, sniffy, swishy business for our entire glass when we’re out to dinner, just the first couple sips.” — Caroline Conner, wine coach and sommelier
Drink by region or varietal (variety)
Region—The way that I originally got into wine was through drinking my way through the Jura (a region in eastern France). I drank all the things—Ploussard, Trousseau, Chardonnay and all the sparkling expressions. It’s such a fun way to experience the terroir.
Varietal—Have a Pinot Noir month where you drink Pinot Noir from all over; various parts of California, France, Germany, New Zealand. This is great because you get to experience all the typical parts of that grape and see how it expresses itself differently depending on where it’s grown. — Kristin Olszewski, CEO and sommelier at Nomadica.
Don’t try to commit what you love to memory
“Always take a picture of what you’re drinking if you really enjoy the wine. You’ll always be in that situation where you can’t remember the name of a wine you had at a certain moment. Taking a picture of the bottle lets you remember the experiences you had with a particular wine.” — Hugo Bensimon, Wine Director at Grill 23
Beninati concludes with one last reminder: “Drink what you love! Life is too short to do anything to the contrary. Don’t be shy about a wine that suits your fancy, no matter the price point or food pairing.”