5 Fun Ways To Learn More About Wine
We love wine and we know that there's great wine at every price point. What we don't always know is which wines are great tasting and great values. So here are our top 5 fun ways that you can use to learn about wines and discover more wines that you can enjoy.
1. Have a party! Your friends have knowledge of wines you know and love. So do you. When you put that knowledge together you can all learn about new wines that you might enjoy. Have a party and invite everyone to bring a favorite wine of theirs within the price range that interests you. You can theme your party around specific grapes (e.g., Chardonnay), around growing regions (e.g., Bordeaux, France), or both (e.g., Australian Shirazes). Make sure to have plenty of snacks to complement the wines. Spend time talking with your friends about why they like the wine they brought. Everyone can share fun experiences, wine stories and memories associated with wine and make some new ones at your party.
2. Do a blind wine tasting. Pick a type of tasting you want to do. Here are some options: a. Vertical Tasting - A specific wine from the same winemaker but tasting different years of the wine to learn more about how weather patters and growing seasons affected the grapes. 2. Horizontal Tasting - A certain varietal (e.g., Cabernet Sauvignons) and taste different winemakers' offerings. You can make them all from the same year, same region or not. 3. Old World vs. New World - Compare a grape varietal grown in Old World countries (e.g., Europe) vs. New World countries (e.g., North & South America, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia). Some fun options are Pinot Noir, Shiraz/Sirah, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. There are many other variations, such as choosing a price point or such. Use your interests to guide the selection. In advance, you can send out brown paper bags (or any covering you choose, so long as they're all the same). When your friends bring the wines have them put them on a table. Shuffle the bottles around so no one can remember who put their wine where. Then number all the bags. Do the tastings and see what you like! Make sure to have notepads available so everyone can mark down their favorites. Be sure to have water, crackers and snacks available to cleanse the palate.
3. Join a wine club. There's one sure way to taste new wines on a regular basis. Join a wine club. There are all sorts of clubs, for different wines each month, different regions or different grape types. There are even sparkling or fortified wine clubs. Find one that offers the price point and style options that you think you'd enjoy then sign up for awhile and see what the deliveries bring. Make an event out of your own home tastings and be sure to make notes of the wines you enjoy most!
4. Host a monthly wine night. We belong to a monthly wine night and love it. You can do the same. We have a group of 10-15 people, pick a regularly scheduled day, who gather to taste wines on a particular theme. Hosts can rotate every month. Keep it simple like the first Thursday of every month. We usually keep the price point limited, say $20 a bottle. Each guest also prepares a snack or dish to go along with the wine they are bringing. Then we all taste the wines and share the snacks. We learn about the history of the category as well as the individual wines that have been brought. We offer our opinions as to what we think of the wines, how they taste to us, and how they compare to one another. At the end of the night we cast our votes for the top 3 favorites. Notes are taken by one of the guests and distributed to everyone by email after the party. You can choose a theme for the party so you try different wines every month. Some of our themes have been Pinot Noirs from Washington State, Wines of Germany, Merlots, Wines from Bordeaux, Sparkling wines and Spanish Reds. We've also had full theme dinners when appropriate, such as Thanksgiving wines. Other ideas include summer whites, boxed wine (it's not what it used to be!) or wines for a picnic. Use your imagination and have fun.
5. Take a wine tour or visit some wineries. The ultimate way to get it from the horse's mouth, or in this case, the winemaker's. Pick an area whose wine you want to explore and plan a tour or make appointments to visit some wineries. Napa Valley and Sonoma, Northern California's famed "wine countries" are perfect for such a trip. There are tour providers, cars for hire, even wine trains you can use to get around from one winery to another. For adventures in other famous wine regions, you could consider a barge down the canals of France, such as the one we took in Burgundy. Or, make appointments to visit the champagne caves in regions such as Champagne.
Bonus Entry: Try a wine flight or tasting at a local establishment. We just couldn't help ourselves from offering just one more extra way for you to learn, so…Check out some of the local establishments you like to visit and find one that offers a wine flight on their menu. Don't limit yourself to Italian, French or California cuisines either. We were delighted to do a Sake (Japanese rice wine) tasting at a local ramen restaurant. It was fun to learn about a whole new style of wine. There are also many local wine stores that offer free tastings, to help customers learn more about what they might like to purchase from their store. Everybody wins!
You'd be surprised at how many great tasting value wines are out there once you know how to find them. Well, have fun and let us know what great wine discoveries you make.