Set down that Bacardi Breezer and pour yourself some wine
I remember the good ole days, of knocking back some fun, sugary bevies with the gals. Those things were our weekend staples (honestly, liquid crack). However, my taste in beverages have definitely evolved and I'm here to tell you that wine is the hip new (old) drink (cheers, Olivia Pope).
My wine journey is probably similar to others: I was introduced to wine at family dinners. I would try some and sometimes I would enjoy it, sometimes I wouldn’t. I either thought the wine was just good or bad… I literally knew nothing other than the wine was white or red. I thought that there were only a handful of varieties and a select few that I liked.
Flash forward about five years and I’m living in a location that has beautiful wineries and vineyards, less than a five minute drive from my home. I was getting a lot more exposure to wine and through this, I developed a deeper understanding and appreciation for it.
However, I definitely gained the deepest understanding of it by throwing myself into the industry and working at a new winery. I’m constantly learning new things and just celebrating the joys of wine. One of my favourite aspects of my job is getting others into wine, too. Whether someone is new to wine, doesn’t think they like it, or claim that they're a beer drinker, I’m always up for the challenge of finding them a wine that they will enjoy.
While keeping in mind that everyone is different and has their own personal preferences, there are a few common elements that seem to draw people into wine. If you are new to wine and want to become a sophisticated member of our society ;) , here are my tips on getting you started.
Start with something approachable
If you're coming here from the wonderful world of whiskey sours (or just haven't had much wine exposure), you're going to want to start with something softer, lighter-bodied, fruit-forward, simple/easy-drinking -- like a rosé (more suggestions on wine for beginners). When you’re new to wine, it can really throw you off to experience a whole bunch of new structural components or intense and unfamiliar flavours at once. By starting with a simple wine, there is plenty of room to expand your palate from here. I like to compare it to how many people start drinking coffee — with lots of milk, sugar, maybe some flavouring. Eventually, you may evolve to drink your coffee black. If I had been introduced to wine this way, I think I would have started enjoying it much sooner.
Get to know the wines you’re drinking
When sampling wines with customers, they always get way more interested in the wine when I share its story. What is coming from the wine and why? Is there anything cool or noteworthy about it? What is the variety? How does it differ from other wines you've tried? It is important to ask these questions, so you can make note of whether you like that particular style, flavour profile, etc. When you make note of what you like from a wine, it makes it much easier for someone to recommend other wines that you will enjoy -- which is better than buying a very expensive wine and finding out you don't like it as much as you liked a $10 bottle.
Don't knock it 'til you try it
There are so many different styles of wine and grape varieties, and many different ways to express them. One wine can taste completely different from another wine of the same variety. This has to do with many factors, such as where it is grown, when it is harvested, different winemaking techniques, longer or shorter aging.... So don't try one Chardonnay and decide you don't like all Chardonnays. This is a mistake and you'll miss out on a lot of great wines, this way. Instead, experiment with wines from different climates and styles.
Ignore wine snobs/don’t be a wine snob
Plain and simple, wine is made to be enjoyed, so let’s just cut the bull-shit. If you find a $6 bottle of wine that you enjoy, AMAZING. If you have no idea how to pronounce that 30 syllable German label, do not sweat it. The world of wine can be very overwhelming, but the key to overcoming it all is by remembering its simple purpose: to bring pleasure and amusement. I've heard a lot of comments that might negatively influence the beginner wine-drinker. Some examples of what not to say: "you don't taste this?" or "I only drink ________" (Hi, Dad). Remember that everyone has different perceptions and preferences, and are capable of drawing their own conclusions.
Get a wine buddy.
Like food, I believe that wine is meant to be shared. Having good wine with good company, truly enriches your experience. Not to mention, it’s much more stimulating and insightful to discuss what you’re tasting with another person. From there, try augmenting your wine experience by adding food that will pair well with the wines you have. You don’t even need to learn how to pair wine with food, it only takes a quick google search. There are plenty of recommendations.
Trust me when I tell you that wine will enhance your life! It's something that I get excited for, like my morning coffee. There's so much to love about it and the beginning of your journey is as simple as taking a sip. I love hearing about how people stumble into the world of wine -- let me know in the comments how you got into it and share some of your own tips for getting into wine.