It’s not a pretty picture, but it’s a common one: you’re at a friend’s party. You don’t really know anyone, and you’re doing your best to mingle. Your friend has good taste in wine, which everyone is enjoying. Someone commends your pal on picking out great, obscure varietals, and you noncommittally agree. You then end up knee-deep in a conversation with a stranger that you’re suddenly desperate to impress, when you fall on your face: they call you out on not having any idea what you’re talking about.
It’s time to learn how to talk about wine and be part of the conversation. That way, the next time you find yourself paired with an unknown bottle or an intimidating pseudo-expert, you can hold your own during a wine-focused conversation.
This overview will help you get started on the path to becoming an oenophile:
Tasting the Wine’s Flavors
Learn how to talk about wine in the most fun way possible—tasting the stuff.
Peruse your local shop, or the menu at a wine bar, and talk to the experts. Tell them what kind of flavors, weights, and consistencies you like in your wine, and ask them to point you in the right direction. You’ll figure out what you like, and learn how to talk about wine in the process.
If you’re more of a homebody, you could try an online wine club, which sends a selection each month with information on what you’re drinking. By pouring your bottles with a Soiree Wine Aerator, you’ll be able to taste the vibrant flavor profiles and subtle undertones from the comfort of your own house.
Read About the Subject
In the quest to discover how to talk about wine and demystify “terroirs” and “varietals,” read about the subject. Check out tomes such as the 2016 Wine Guide by Food & Wine, How to Fake Your Way Through a Wine List by Katherine Cole, and the almost 1000-page The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil.
Magazines, too, aim to educate the novice wine-drinker, so picking up a copy of Wine Spectator or Wine Enthusiast could also prove useful.
If you’re going to talk about wine, it’s just as important to be in touch with what you like—and when you’re tasting a lot of it, it can be hard to keep things straight.
With the Wine Tasting Journal from Wine Enthusiast Companies, you can paste in different labels and write about the wine you love (and don’t) your way—even if it means comparing them to your favorite cartoon characters.
The Coravin Elite Wine System looks futuristic and allows you to pour wine without removing the cork, so what stays in the bottle stays fresh. If you tend to roll a little more old-school, you might want to let your wine breathe from the classy confines of the Oxymore Decanter by Saint Louis Crystal.