How To Find Out What Kind Of Wine You Like (Now)

If you haven’t already established one, you need a starting point for determining your individual tastes (or preferences) in wine.  I say “tastes” because you may have a few.  You may have many.  Your particular preferences may change from day to day.  Your general preferences may shift over a period of time, and may very well, shift back.  The point is that wine-drinking is not necessarily static and can be very dynamic.  I say “can be” because, as I will often reiterate, what YOU like is what matters, not what others may suggest you should like, and if you like only one type—that’s okay.  Just try to keep an open mind toward considering other choices. What others suggest can be very helpful and informative, but, in the end, YOU must be the judge for yourself.  And I say “individual” because there are many different wines.  I don’t see how anyone could possibly try them all.  So, what you like is what you like and that’s just fine.

Now let’s get started.  Do you prefer a sweeter wine or one that’s not-so-sweet?  “Not-so-sweet” is another way of saying “dry.”  Why do we say dry?  If it’s wet, then it’s not dry.  Don’t worry about it for now.  There’s a lot of terminology that can make wine-drinking confusing and intimidating.  Tannic, acidic, etc.  Let’s not get hung up on terminology.  Although reading the label on a wine bottle can be interesting and even amusing.   Wines are described in many ways: robust, full-bodied, long legs, great finish….  Hey, what are we talking about?  Well, wine-drinking can be seductive in some respects, but we are still talking about the wine.  I have said that the two main things a person needs to do to learn about wine is taste and read.  But reading serves little purpose unless you taste.  You can read about how to drive a car, but, if you don’t get behind the wheel and “experience” it, your reading knowledge will serve little purpose. You must experience the wine.

I suggest that you start with whites. (If you want to start with reds, go for it.)  Find a shop that is devoted primarily to wine and has informed personnel .  (We will talk more another time about why this is important.)  State that you are wanting to find out where your preferences lie and that you would like a nice, middle of the road, sweeter wine such as a pinot grigio (or gris), a not-so-sweet wine such as a chardonnay and something somewhere in the middle. Prices will be another topic as well as what to eat with wine, how to store it, what to drink it out of, etc.  Whoa, let’s keep this simple for now (but please remember that heat is very bad for wine).

You will need a good wine bottle opener.  There are many varieties.  Don’t get too exotic at first.  You’ll find the style that’s right for you.  Alright, now go home and taste.  Chill, slightly (there are actually charts on chilling wine and they are helpful).  Open.  Spit out your gum, lozenge, hard candy or breath mint.  Swish some water in your mouth and have a go at it. Smell the wine.  Smelling is an important part  of tasting. Sip.  Close your eyes. Thinking about what you are sensing.  Now, take some notes for your own benefit (the type of wine, the winery, the year, the price, the alcohol content and your thoughts about it).  After tasting a number of wines, it can be difficult to remember them all.  Hence, the notes.  There are actually forms available for this, but it’s not a requirement.  Then swish some more water, spit it out and move on to the in-between wine.  Follow the same process as with the first and continue on to the third.  Give it a break and then go through it all again.  Are your observations the same?  Then, perhaps, try it all again the next day.  The wine will keep.  Put the cork back in (NOT ALL THE WAY!—or it may be difficult to get it back out).  Put it in the refrigerator, if you prefer.  Some people, especially professionals in the field of wine, spit the wine out after tasting.  We’re in this for the fun of it, aren’t we?  I generally don’t prefer to spit out perfectly good wine.  However, after a certain amount of tasting, failure to spit can have an adverse effect on your tasting abilities and your recollections.  Enough for now.  Let’s get going on the journey.

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