Where to start

I realize I may get some off color post in this thread and thats ok... Go ahead and make fun of me Smile

I really want to improve my knowledge of wine and move from a casual wine drinker to semi-collector. Other than books and the normal tools that are available what else will help. I was looking around at Wine Enthusiast the other day and saw a kit that help with smells. Is something like that any good? I really need help with improving my palette so I was thing it might be good for me.

Just looking for some advise if anyone would like to share.
Original Post
Do anything you can think of.

Get the smelly kit.
Read more.
Find some wine geeks to drink with. The more geeks you find the more wines you can try (i.e. your exposure to different wines goes up exponentially).
Get a cellartracker account and make notes of what you like and dislike.
Thanks...

I have the cellartracker account (It is a great program)

I'm reading the book Great Wines Made Simple. I think this is a great book. It has really help me understand the basics. This weekend we will be doing the test with the main 6 grapes.

I will get the smelly kit if you really think it will help.

I am having so much fun. I wish I would have gotten into this years ago. Also my wife no longer get on to me for drinking so much.
quote:
Originally posted by Clrv:
I will get the smelly kit if you really think it will help.

Forget the smelly kit. I bought one when I started, and although it was fun for the first couple of weeks, I haven't opened the vials in several years now.

If you want to understand what you are smelling, go to the produce section of a supermarket, a farmer's market, take a walk in a forest or park, open up your spice cabinet, etc. You just need to be more aware of the every day smells around you. It'll be easier to assign descriptors to the glass of wine in front of you.
Agree - forget the smellies. Don't need them. I think nothing replaces actually tasting wines.
I agree with the tasting groups. This will multiply how quickly you experience different wines. Starting with offlines from this forum is a good beginning.
quote:
Originally posted by Clrv:

I'm reading the book Great Wines Made Simple.


Yes! A wonderful book, and one to go back to often.

This hobby can get VERY expensive. Unless you have very deep pockets, go to every retail tasting you can find to get your head around the basics. And, don't ever let others tell you what you like. Keep an open mind of course, but ultimately, decide that for yourself.
quote:
Starting with offlines from this forum is a good beginning.


What do you mean by this?

What I eye opener for me last night. Although I am just now really getting into this hobby I have been drinking for sometime. Last night was the first time though that I have drank several different grapes (The big six as the book calls it) together for a comparison. It really help me understand the difference between the bodies and the smells.

Thanks for the tips. I’m looking forward to finding some wine tastings in my area!
quote:
I may get some off color post . . .

I really need help with improving my palette


Well, if you're talking about color that's OK but if you're talking about taste, it's your palate.

My advice is just to drink wine and keep notes of what you like.
quote:
Originally posted by Clrv:
quote:
Starting with offlines from this forum is a good beginning.


What do you mean by this?


Keep an eye on the Off-Line Events section of the forum. See if one gets started in your area, and join in. Basically the routine is:

1. A bunch of (mostly) strangers decide on a time, restaurant, and theme (usually a wine in the $50-$100 range, sometimes more, sometimes less).

2. Everyone shows up, brings their bottle(s), has dinner and makes some new friends.
quote:
Originally posted by indybob:
quote:
Originally posted by Clrv:
quote:
Starting with offlines from this forum is a good beginning.


What do you mean by this?


Keep an eye on the Off-Line Events section of the forum. See if one gets started in your area, and join in. Basically the routine is:

1. A bunch of (mostly) strangers decide on a time, restaurant, and theme (usually a wine in the $50-$100 range, sometimes more, sometimes less).

2. Everyone shows up, brings their bottle(s), has dinner and makes some new friends.


Couldn't have said it better, IB!
Learn the basic tasting ritual and the reason for its existence. Then, I think one of the most important things is to taste the wine and then just answering the question do I like it and why? The important thing is to be able to answer the why part.
Clrv, start a group yourself if you're so inclined. About three years I started up a monthly blind group here in town, hosted by a friend who owns a small wine shop. Each month, there is a theme, and people bring in wines to match it (owner fine with outside wines for this).

Good thing is it's a heck of a lot of fun, and it's a great social hour. I look forward to it all month.
Bad thing is, wines people bring tend to be supermarket cheapies, and most wines aren't amazing, but every now and then, someone brings a wonderful ten dollar wine that wins in a landslide.
Just for any other Newbies reading this thread. Another good place to start is right here at Wine Spectator. I am really surprised no one mentioned this great tool.

http://www.winespectator.com/school

It is basic but when you are starting from scratch it is a great way to learn. Using this school approach and the book Great Wines Made Simple. I feel a lot more confident.
Clrv - don't worry about feeling confident. Did you worry about that when you had your first couple of beers? It's BS if someone tells you there's some mystery to wine. You'll learn as much as you want to just like you would with every other hobby - some people just go for the weekend run while others obsess over different training shoes, etc. You'll just find a comfort zone and don't worry about knowing more or less than anyone else.

When I started drinking wine more than casually, it was before the internet made gathering information so easy and WS wasn't actually online at the time. So I just kept little notes on what I liked or didn't like. Didn't tell anyone about it either - it was like a shameful little secret. Now they call those things tasting notes but I didn't know at the time.

Anyhow, that's the only way I could remember what I wanted to try again. Eventually I figured out that there might be certain producers I liked, or certain grapes, and I'd try more of them and be disappointed or happy as the case may be. Most important was actually reviewing them a couple days later, or when I tried the same wine again - I'd want to see if I thought the same thing or if something had changed.

And as someone said - go to every tasting you can.
quote:
Originally posted by GregT:
Clrv - don't worry about feeling confident. Did you worry about that when you had your first couple of beers? It's BS if someone tells you there's some mystery to wine.


Yep, pretty much. Clrv, no reason to not start your own little tasting group (invite some friends, and keep it small to start). And, attend lots of tastings with confidence and an open mind.

There are a lot of blowhards in this hobby, don't let them intimidate you. Remember, the flavors your taste and smells you experience are your own, not someone else's.
Sounds good.... Thanks for the push in the right direction.

I found a local group that does a wine tasting at difference places on the first Friday of every month. The dollar amount per bottle is very low. So I think it is more of a social event than anything else. Which is fine... it will also give me a chance to see how a tasting goes so I can set one up.
Hello everyone, my first post here. I would suggest taking a wine tasting class locally, there are a lot of great resources out there. In Connecticut, there are several "teachers" paired up with local restaurants that have a series of tasting classes for an inexpensive $100 per person for three classes, they're around an hour or so long each. The class led by a local expert will walk the class through tasting of maybe 10 wines (give or take) and teach you the art of slurping, tasting, smelling while eating some well-paired appetizers as well. Hope that helps!

Richard
Connecticut Food & Wine
Clrv, plan a trip to CA. Research the areas and wines/wineries you might like to explore. Might deserve two or three visits. No rush on doing it all. Maybe Napa/Sonoma/Mendocino, Central Coast and Sierra Foothills/Lodi. Good folks in this forum can also provide lots of recommendations on wineries.
Thanks for the great information. I will check on some classes and see what is available. There is a small group of us now that are going to meet once or twice a month for wine tastings. We just meet and it is amazing how much you can learn for just setting down with a group and talking each wine.

Castle Peak... I'm ready to come out there Smile I think we are going to wait until end of summer next year so that we can get a little more familiar with the wineries we like best.
A wine tasting group is a great idea. My husband and I have met monthly with 5 other couples for 34 years. We've tasted lots of wines and have learned a lot. Lots of fun!

You can concentrate on a particular wine region each month or on a specific varietal.

Good luck!
quote:
Originally posted by DoubleD:
quote:
Originally posted by Clrv:
I will get the smelly kit if you really think it will help.

Forget the smelly kit. I bought one when I started, and although it was fun for the first couple of weeks, I haven't opened the vials in several years now.

If you want to understand what you are smelling, go to the produce section of a supermarket, a farmer's market, take a walk in a forest or park, open up your spice cabinet, etc. You just need to be more aware of the every day smells around you. It'll be easier to assign descriptors to the glass of wine in front of you.


This reminds me of this past Christmas when I spent an entire day pandering around Home Depot crunching up and sniffing pine needles from all the different kinds of pine trees to add to my "smelly kit" in my brain.

I got some great looks that day...

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