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Hello all,

This is my first post to the forum and if this is in the wrong place my apologies.

I am 23 (and poor) and want to learn more about wine and while I have read books and been to vineyards and wineries in Napa, Washington State, Tuscany and Alsace, I still feel like I know very little.

Going into my local wine shop I pretty much have no idea what I am doing. I really like Australian Shiraz and I am able to pick some favorites from Mollydooker, Two Hands, Torbreck, etc., but if someone asked me what I like about one of them I don't think I could do much better than saying that it tastes good and has a full body.

What should be my strategy for learning and buying? I have bought cases of wines that I liked before to drink and to cellar. I did futures through a Napa winery once and while I can appreciate an excellent $130 bottle of wine my wallet cannot really take half a case worth too often even at the discounted prices.

Thank you for any advice.
 
Posts: 4 | Registered: Oct 07, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It sounds like you're already "into" it, you just need to dig deeper. Briefly, I'd do the following:

1) Keep reading. Find a list of the canonical books on the subject and plow through them. There are lots of places to start, but a new one for that list that ought to whet your appetite is Reading Between the Wines by Terry Thiese.


2) Taste (a lot). Find a wine shop or other location that holds frequent tastings. Oftentimes they are free. Nothing develops your interest, enjoyment and discernment of wine like tasting it. Not only will you be able to put what you've been reading in context, you'll also find out a lot more about what you like.

3) Find a group of like-minded people to share with. Whether IRL or online, you obviously will accelerate, broaden and deepen the knowledge you're building by interacting with others.

There's obviously lots more that could be said, but that's a good place to start...


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Posts: 6 | Registered: Oct 06, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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A couple easy/cheap way to get started:
* Up top in the Wine Spectator header is a link for "Learn Wine". There is a TON of free information in there as well as their classes which are free to Wine Spectator members ($8 per month would be worth trying it for a day or two).

* Most wine stores have free/inexpensive tastings during the week. Start visiting to see what you like and don't like.

* Print off a copy of the Wine Aroma Wheel. With this in hand, start breaking out what you smell/taste in a wine. Do you smell fruit? "berry" fruit? Citrus fruit? Tropical? Then break out from there.

* Go to an "off-line" with others from your city. 95% of the attendees would love the opportunity to share their wine with you and help educate you.

* Purchase some aged wine from auctions to see if you even like aged wine. Find a wine that you like, purchase one from 10-15 years ago and see if you still like it. If not, then don't focus on buying things for cellaring at this point.

* Finally, don't drop $130 on a bottle until you actually understand what you are buying.
 
Posts: 621 | Location: Seattle, WA | Registered: May 11, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by flop:

* Finally, don't drop $130 on a bottle until you actually understand what you are buying.


Yes!!!

And, don't let someone else determine what you like. You make that decision for yourself. Remember that.

Also, buy this book: Great Wine Made Simple.

It's a step by step guide and will teach you a ton in a short time.


-IB

"Wine only turns into alcohol if you let it sit."---Lindsay Bluth
 
Posts: 8848 | Location: The Circle City | Registered: Nov 24, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Just need time and tasting =)

If you're interested the above to will lend naturally to getting into wine.


I personally threw out the wine aroma wheel as I just get tired of someone telling me it's suppose to be like brioche, pain grill, white flowers, roses, or whatever else the predefined note should be.

You get more attached to a tasting note when it's what you actually can relate to.

Ie, I find strawberries in some ports, people look at me funny. Someone else says tussin and that's how they identify with it, who am i to argue. (Except that if it was a fonseca 63, I'd take the decanter out of their hands and pass them the pinot noir instead)


This is my sig -> www.brownteacup.com
www.wsqwine.com
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Posts: 10979 | Location: NYC | Registered: Feb 16, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Read and taste and taste some more.

I picked a type of wine that I wanted to learn more about - say Chianti - bought three or four and tasted them or had a tasting with a couple friends who each brought one or two examples. You can do this by grape, region, age, type.

Another way is to just go to your LWS and pick up a mixed case of 12 different bottles of stuff you've never had or are curious about. Ask the LWS staff for recommendations.

Remember to take notes.
 
Posts: 244 | Registered: May 07, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Sounds like t-bird has resurrected.
 
Posts: 4961 | Location: New Jersey | Registered: Aug 05, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Read wine reviews and buy the wine. See if you agree with the tastes and smells described in the review. Repeat this process until you find a critic with a palette similar to your own and then use that critic as guidence for future purchases.
 
Posts: 134 | Location: GTA | Registered: Sep 30, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This hobby is for old farts who can't play sports anymore.
 
Posts: 4961 | Location: New Jersey | Registered: Aug 05, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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To add to the excellent comments above, I really don't think you should be spending anything above 100$ or even 80$ a bottle right now. Start with different varietal in the lower price ranges to get a good idea of what you like. Secondly, a lot of people on these boards collect wine which is NOT the same as tasting or drinking wine. You really should not be buying to age anything unless a) you know what you like and b)have proper storage and c)have the means to buy expensive bottles.

Start by frequenting these forums(despite their sometimes acrymonious nature Wink ), you will learn a lot. Secondly, taste taste taste. I would put off buying more than 1 or 2 bottles of something until you are more confident in your tastes and know what you like.

Organize small dinner-tastings(offlines) amongst your friends and discuss the wines. That is always a great way to discover and learn about wine.

Wine collecting can be a very expensive hobby but wine tasting should not.


***********************
"I have drunk not to the clouding of my reason, but just so much that I can still surely distinguish the syllables with my tongue." Athenaeus

"Mimik" on cellartracker.com
 
Posts: 6501 | Location: Montreal | Registered: Feb 21, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Wine collecting can be a very expensive hobby but wine tasting should not.

"Truer words were never spoken". Trust us on this one!


Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
Posts: 5432 | Registered: Jan 11, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by DoktaP:
quote:
Wine collecting can be a very expensive hobby but wine tasting should not.

"Truer words were never spoken". Trust us on this one!


how about wine drinking?

where would that fit in?


This is my sig -> www.brownteacup.com
www.wsqwine.com
(Wine distributor)
 
Posts: 10979 | Location: NYC | Registered: Feb 16, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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how about wine drinking?

Other peoples wines are great to drink, though I've shared the odd good bottle or two with friends and forumites.


Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
Posts: 5432 | Registered: Jan 11, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by DoktaP:
........ though I've shared the odd good bottle or two with friends and forumites.


Truer words were never spoken. Wink

PH
 
Posts: 14644 | Location: Maryland, USA (DC suburbs) | Registered: Nov 22, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
quote:
Originally posted by DoktaP:
........ though I've shared the odd good bottle or two with friends and forumites.


Truer words were never spoken. Wink

PH

Indeed! Cool

Be there on the right occasion and you will taste history Wink
 
Posts: 15112 | Location: Montreal, QC | Registered: Feb 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You can take a few different routes.

Do you even LIKE wine? Or would you rather drink something else? Oddly enough I know some people who don't care for it but want to learn about it for social reasons. Kind of like some twit trying to pretend he's really into football. Or like all the people who want to be cool by pretending they're into soccer when the reason they care is because nobody played it when they were kids and they sucked at every other sport.

So that's one approach. In that case, I'd say to find out which wines got high scores. Then find out if any of your friends or colleagues care about those scores. If they do, buy those wines. That way you can say you have a 95 point wine from such and such. That'll get you a lot of mileage and dozens of posts on the various wine boards.

An alternative is simply to learn about wine. Don't worry about getting "into it" or whatever other crap one might call it. If you think it sucks, drink something else. Who cares really?

If you like wine, then you'll naturally learn more about it. Personally I think reading about it is the worst idea on the planet. Well, not the worst but it's like reading about sex. Or a movie. Or food. Exactly what good does it do you? At the end of the day you're still a virgin and the whole point is to lose your virginity. You don't do that by reading! Reading will tell you about soil types and temperatures and what not, but none of that matters when you have a glass of crap that you can't put into your mouth.

Worse, reading will tell you you're tasting this or that or whatever but none of that matters when you remember that the person who wrote it was a)an idiot; b)drunk at the time; c)in debt or in the pay of the winery; d)hadn't even tasted the wine before writing the note; e)had been trained to taste particular things and think particular thoughts; f)was just as clueless as you; g)any number of other things.

The folks at WS try to be careful tasters and for that I give them credit. Does that mean you'll taste anything similar? Nope. So don't buy anything expensive and taste as much as you can. And don't imagine that if you buy something expensive you'll be able to sell it if you don't want it in the future. Why would someone buy something that you overpaid for and kept on top of your fridge?


"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
 
Posts: 2479 | Location: NY | Registered: Dec 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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.....if someone asked me what I like about one of them I don't think I could do much better than saying that it tastes good and has a full body.


Welcome, Royal Oak.
You have already discovered the secret. Drinking wine that tastes good TO YOU is the secret.

Don't drink things that other people tell you are good if you don't like them. Try to understand what you like. Having said that, you'll find, like most of us, that your tastes will drift from Shiraz now, to something else later. At one point when you can't stand Shiraz you'll wonder "what was I thinking." You won't taste a drop of Shiraz for years and then you'll taste one and you'll like it!
What a wonderful world wine is.


99% of lawyers give the rest of us a bad name.
 
Posts: 6939 | Location: Baltimore, MD | Registered: Feb 04, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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- another good book for people that are not experienced with wine is Oldman's Guide to Outsmarting Wine

- Wine Spectator Online has daily picks on the front page. They are classed according to price: Under $15, $15 to $30 and over $30 and they are archived so you have a lot of reviews to look at. Daily Picks

- Takeadvantage of the tastings at your LWS. If you are fortunate enough to live in a state that disallows chaging for tastings it is an easy way to taste a lot of different wines.


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Posts: 2249 | Location: o-HIGH-o | Registered: May 05, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thank you all for your advice. I will start attending wine tastings at my LWS. I had been to one before but I was sort of turned off by the crowd. I will also check out some of those book as well.

I live in San Francisco, so I do like to venture out to Napa on weekends but at wineries you really only get the variety of what they produce.

I also have a wood wine rack in my basement that can hold at least 100 bottles. I know this should not even be in my mind at this stage but I like the idea of buying a few bottles of wine I like and trying them later down the road.

The tags at the store usually give a range like "drink now through 2016." Maybe there would be no point to leaving a few in the cellar because if I waited a few years or even 6 months I wouldn't remember what it was like when I originally tasted it.

I also do not understand what should be kept for a long time and what should be consumed today. I have been told that most wines are meant to be consumed within a year of bottling. But I have also been called a "baby killer" when I drank several bottles of Krug Brut and Piper Heidsieck that I had received as gifts.
 
Posts: 4 | Registered: Oct 07, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Royal Oak -- if you are curious as to what aged wines taste like, you can easily find one over the internet. Most aren't higher than what you can buy for the latest vintage. Definitely do the free tastings and see what varietals appeal to you, but also keep in mind that your tastes will change over time. San Francisco is not a bad place to be for starting a wine journey. Lastly, check out the Offline page periodically.
 
Posts: 4961 | Location: New Jersey | Registered: Aug 05, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The tags at the store usually give a range like "drink now through 2016." Maybe there would be no point to leaving a few in the cellar because if I waited a few years or even 6 months I wouldn't remember what it was like when I originally tasted it.

You will be surprised at your ability to remember the nuances of a wine later on. As mentioned earlier, do take written notes and record your impressions. These need not be (and shouldn't be) flowery prose. Simple, "tastes like.....smells like, I liked it etc." This will help you greatly in supplementing your memory.

I also do not understand what should be kept for a long time and what should be consumed today. I have been told that most wines are meant to be consumed within a year of bottling. But I have also been called a "baby killer" when I drank several bottles of Krug Brut and Piper Heidsieck that I had received as gifts

Learning what should be drunk and what should be cellared is a combination of finding critics whose palates and advice you respect and blending this knowledge with your own experiences. Nothing will replace experience and time in this regard. Murdering a few babies along the way is part of the learning experience. fwiw, NV Champagnes for the most part are designed for early drinking. Some will benefit from additional age but not to the degree that most vintage Champagnes will. The most recent disgorgement of Krug NV is drinking spectacularly now, so any criticism of your popping one now is misdirected, imo.....
PH
 
Posts: 14644 | Location: Maryland, USA (DC suburbs) | Registered: Nov 22, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Go tasting Go tasting and go to some tasting.
Do not fall in love with it - let your palate tell you.. Roll Eyes
Enjoy !
 
Posts: 708 | Location: Pinot Heaven - CA | Registered: Oct 12, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I will re-iterate much of what has been said.

Taste, read, taste, taste, read.

Go to tastings where multiple bottles are offered. You will learn the most if you have multiple glasses in front of you, so you can really compare wines A, B, and C. If you don't like the crowd at a wine tasting, it's understandable, but I'm not sure which segment of the crowd you don't care for. For me, I tend to hang around with the wine geeks who actually know what they are tasting, and can describe things beyond "I like that one, but I didn't care for the last one". If you are on this forum, you might be that type. I suggest burying your nose in a notebook and record everything you can about a wine. This will keep you out of the social conversations, but the wine geeks will notice and ultimately ask what you think.

As for reading, these forums are actually a pretty good start. The WS Magazine and Website have a lot of good info. I agree with the book recommendation "Great Wine Made Simple", but there are others I might go to first. "Wine for Dummies was a great book", I'm not sure if they still publish it? If they still do, I think it is an excellent book for beginners and beyond. I'm a map and geography geek, and I love to see where my wine came from, so I like the Wine Atlas by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson. There are dozens of other books that deal with various wine regions. Some are rather dry, others are tied up in minutia, but you can leaf through them at your local book store to see if they look worthwhile. For tasting at home, I like the idea of starting with one region or grape, and tasting multiple samples until you feel familiar, then move on to another.

Laying a few wines down to age is not a bad idea, as long as you are not excessive. There are actually a fair number of wines under $25 that can age nicely, so you don't have to break the bank, either. There will always be wine auctions and older bottles for sale in the future, so you certainly don't have to kill yourself with three dollar figure bottles to lay down now.


Stay thirsty my friends.
 
Posts: 2888 | Location: Saginaw, MI | Registered: Mar 12, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You should go to K&L to join some of their tasting events.
 
Posts: 118 | Location: Los Angeles | Registered: Apr 15, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I can remember 15 years ago, my first realization that fine wines are REALLY GOOD! Up to that point, I only drank cheap junk and didn't like it very much. Then I drank my first expensive Napa cab and I was hooked.

The first step for me in learning to enjoy fine wines was to understand my own palate and be able to describe it to others. Isn't it more difficult to buy wine you like, when you cannot describe it to others? Taste, taste, taste... then taste some more, but don't just say: I like this, or I like that. Take the time to write down why you like, or dislike the wines. Print an aroma wheel and read about wine flavor profiles and put words to your preferences. Learn how to taste acidity and tannins in the wine. Experience a range of texture and mouth-feel. Do you prefer tasting the fruit in the front of the palate, or the back? Do you enjoy red fruit (cherry, raspberry, strawberry) more than black fruit (black currant, plum, blackberry, blueberry)? Do vegetal characteristics turn you off, or just make the wine more complex? Do you find meaty, leathery or earthy flavors to be desirable?

Enough, you get the idea... Well here goes. As an example, I will try to describe the perfect Merlot FOR MY PALATE: Clear dense purple to the rim without appearing inky. A nose of concentrated black fruit with meaty characteristics and earth. Perfectly integrated medium acidity to medium-high tannins with subdued alcohol leading to a coating mouth-feel of pure velvet. Black plum and blackberry at the front with hints of blueberry moving to a more complex mid-palate of meat and earth and finishing with a hint of smoke. A long, lingering finish that doesn't stop.

You find a merlot that tastes like that. You make sure and let me know Big Grin !
 
Posts: 74 | Location: Tempe, AZ | Registered: Jun 17, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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