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I have been enjoying wine for quite a number of years, though I have never really taken the process of learning wine and distinguishing different tastes too seriously. That is something I would like to begin and my reason for joining here. If anyone is willing to help direct a beginner please point me in the right direction. My initial goal would be to learn more about developing my palate. Is that something that I can do at home?
Thank you in advance to anyone who can help.
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You can do it at home, but it is more fun with a bunch of other folks.
There is a good book by the wine critics at the NY Times. A good way to get into this hobby is to find a local wine shop with folks you trust and most have tastings these days.
Taste, taste and taste.
don't by a case of anything.
Good luck.
Originally posted by irwin:
You can do it at home, but it is more fun with a bunch of other folks.
There is a good book by the wine critics at the NY Times. A good way to get into this hobby is to find a local wine shop with folks you trust and most have tastings these days.
Taste, taste and taste.
don't by a case of anything.
Good luck.

Excellent advice.

Your LWS(local wine shop) might provide you info on any local group that might be getting together to taste. Join in if you can. If you live near a larger city, there will will be many options for formal tastings, but there's nothing like an intimate local group to develop closer friendship and tastng "buddies".
There are two books I always recommend--"Wine for Dummies", and Hugh Johnson/Jancis Robinson's "World Atlas of Wine", which help to provide a solid foundation. Read/taste/read/taste/read/taste....
And of course, participate in these forums (don't mind the occasional snarkiness--it's all in fun), there are a lot of great people and great info around here.
New2wineguy - good advice above.

I'd change it a little bit though.

I'd just say taste.

Read later.

Did you read before you tried chocolate cake? Or pizza? Or egg rolls?

You just came to those and figured out what you liked. Don't over-complicate wine. It's not any different from those other things.

You can try to pick out different things like pomegranate, sous bois, torrefaction, graphite and Meyer lemon, and you can turn yourself into one of those tedious people who basically bullshit about what they're tasting.

Don't do that.

And one more thing.

The posts above said to taste, taste, taste.

Don't limit that to wine. When you taste your coffee in the morning, do you just chug it down? When you eat your steak, do you just galp it down like a dog? When you have a piece of chocolate or a handful of nuts, do you just eat and swallow and move on?

If so, you're missing out on life itself. Take some time to savor what it is you're eating and drinking. I'm always skeptical about people who eat things like Pringles, MacDonald's burgers, Oreo cookies and diet Coke and then pose as discerning wine tasters. Really? They can't tell that they're eating and drinking crap all day but somehow they discern nuances and ethereal qualities in their wine?


In fact you learn about wine like you learn about many things - by paying attention. And if you're going to pay attention, then pay attention. Do it with everything you put into your mouth.

If you pay attention and you put an Oreo in your mouth, you note that there's no chocolate at all involved, that there's a dusty, flavorless, bitterness to the "cookie" part and a fatty, waxy coating on the roof of your mouth from the lard/grease in the filling, that there's a painfully nauseating sugar overload from the corn syrup sweetener, that there's some undefined chemical refinery note overlaid on the entire experience, and that you have an overwhelming desire to puke. You will never eat another one.

Reading gives you words you can BS with. Paying attention gives you understanding. I would never be able to tell one wine from another because of anything I'd read. I can only do that because I've paid attention.

Read later. Unfortunately, wine has become political these days and reading will most likely lead you down some partisan road or another. Don't do that to yourself. Keep your innocence and just learn about wine the way you should - by tasting it.

And yes, you can do it at home. You can do it alone. You can do it on the phone.

Dr Seuss aside, however, as they said above, it's a lot more fun to drink wine with other people. That doesn't mean you have to sit there and write tasting notes, it just means you have to take a few moments to think about what you're tasting.

Making notes for yourself is in fact a good way to remember things. The problem is that everyone ends up trying to be another Robert Parker and they condition themselves to reflexively write about every drop of wine that touches their lips. Don't do that and don't worry about picking up this or that flavor. If you're going to write a note to help your memory, just jot down something that is meaningful to you alone. That's easier done at home alone than with other people around. When I'm with people and we're just having dinner and wine, it's not about writing notes, it's about enjoying the moment.

Best of luck!
Last edited by gregt
I agree tasting is of first importance, and paying attention to what you taste (not just wine, but everything) is essential. But I respectfully disagree that reading is unnecessary, or even detrimental. I'm not talking about specific tasting notes--it is certainly best to form your own opinions, but it really helps to read a little, so you can figure out your way around your local wine shop to know a little about what you are buying. If you just grab three random bottles of "Bordeaux" in the $15 range, take them home and pop them open without understanding where they fit in the context of the region, you might come to the tragic conclusion that you don't like Bordeaux, or French wine in general. Ditto for almost all wine regions in the world. A few basic books can really open your eyes to what's out there and give you a compass to navigate the wine world, or at least your local wine shops, on your own terms.

I hope you enjoy your exploration.
Why oh why is everyone fawning at the "wisdom" of GregT? He's the guy that, above, asserts someone who eats crappy junk food can't be a discerning wine taster! Give me a break. I think some are equating the length of a post to its quality. Sure, there are some good points, but let's not drool too much, people!
Hardly fawning. Simply acknowledging encouragement. Were we all born with refined palates? I think not. Were we convinced that Burgundy, Bordeaux, or big Napa cabs became our favorite "go to's" through osmosis? I think not. Tasting, whether it's Wine, Foie Gras, Earl Grey, hell... Mushrooms or Radicchio, is the only way to determine whether one substance, texture, flavor, aroma, etc. is something we want again. And again. And again.

Or not.

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