How To Start Appreciating Wine

Bajans do not come from a grand wine tradition, we are rum drinkers. In countries such as France, Argentina and South Africa people grow up on wine, as a result they have a deep appreciation for wine, while we treasure spirits. Wine goes hand in hand with fine dinning, which can make it even more intimidating, bordering on pretentious. However, wine does not need to be frightening. The whole purpose of wine is to enhance the dining experience. For example, wine pairings are not a myth. A good wine pairing can literally change the way a dish tastes. Plus there is nothing like a good wine buzz to get the good times rolling. With this in mind, here are a few tips on how you can start truly appreciating an exquisite glass of wine.

  1. Start Simple.

Uncomplicate your wine experience. Next time you have a glass of wine, ask yourself one simple question, ‘Do I like this wine?’ The trick is, you have to be honest. There are many good wines out there, that does not mean you have to like them all. Wine is a game of preference, especially when you are developing your taste for it. Disliking a bottle of wine does not mean it is bad, it may just mean those characteristics might not be to your preference, which is perfectly acceptable. Just because a bottle of wine is expensive does not mean you should like it. Once you find a great bottle that you really like, you will never see wine the same way again.

  1. Fully Experience Your Wine

Dining should please all of your senses. Wine can be a big part of that. The three easiest senses to please with a bottle of wine are: sight, smell and, of course, taste. Sight is usually the first to be fulfilled. Take a minute to cherish all the fine details even before the wine is opened. The bottle, the label, the glass, then most importantly, check the color of the wine. All together these things help to satisfy your sense of sight. Next is your sense of smell. No doubt you have seen someone sniff their wine at some point, this isn’t them just being pretentious. They are trying to experience the wine. Again, keep it simple, ‘Do you like the smell?’ Then you can move on to the most obvious sense; taste. Savor the wine, hold it in your mouth for a second or two making sure it coats your tongue and all of your tastebuds are getting their fair share. Wine is a bit like mauby in the sense that, the first taste isn’t the only taste. You have to take a proper gulp to enjoy all of it. Learning to appreciate wine means recognizing the different aspects of wine.

  1. Drink, Drink, Drink! DRINK!

For most of us, our first sip of alcohol ever is pretty gross. We taste hard alcohol and don’t like it, so we start with super sweet drinks then move on to beer and before long, we are sipping on rum with just a splash of soda. We got there through lots of good times and experimenting. If you already have a taste for alcohol, enjoying wine is mostly about finding the right type. Figuring out what you like requires trail and error. Therefore, you must drink wine everywhere. If you keep an eye out, you will realize there is wine all around. Friends who appreciate good vintages are always looking for drinking buddies and wine drinkers love sharing a glass with someone who will appreciate it. Plus, many events usually have a selection of at least one red and one white. Going to a wine bar allows you to try a glass, without committing to a whole bottle. Try seeking out these people and events, making wine your go-to drink.

  1. Lose The Shame

It is fine to know nothing about wine. Don’t let that shame stop you from trying wine because someone may ask you a question that you are scared to answer. When you are at a party and you order a glass of wine and they are dumb enough to ask you ‘red or white?’ You look them straight in the eye and say, ‘both.’ You are growing your love of wine after all, and it is important to do the leg work. What you are really doing is asking to taste both so you can decide which one you like. Likewise, if you are handed the wine list and you don’t know what you are doing, be honest. Ask to speak to the sommelier or a bartender. Tell them what kind of wine you are looking for, even if it may just be the price range and they should be able to take it from there. Talking to people in the business of wine is a great way to learn. After all, wine is supposed to be a social activity.

Drinking is a skill. It takes time to develop. Don’t be hard on yourself if you aren’t instantly a wine savant. Take time to develop your palate by cherishing your food. Appreciating wine goes hand in hand with respecting food. Hands down the best way to appreciate wine is to organize a dinner party. Getting a case of different types of wine and don’t let anyone leave before it is all finished.

This article was originally published in Fine Cuisine Magazine. Pick up your copy today. Also, for more articles like this one check out

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