This is perhaps the most repeated sentence that I have heard in my career in the wine business. It’s what I hear quite often in the store and I heard it almost daily at Bibo, the tiny sweet wine bar I used to manage.
It’s funny because I’ve never heard anyone say, ” I like Beer, but I don’t know anything about it” Neither with Scotch nor Vodka or even Mead! There’s a stigma that Wine has developed over time that makes potential lovers of wine feel inadequate.
Wine is no more complicated than any other beverage or food for that matter. I mean, I like ice cream but I’m sure I don’t know much about it. I’ve never made it and though I feel like there are only a few necessary ingredients it’s still a bit of a mystery to me.
I used to think people felt apprehensive because of the snobbery associated with wine buffs, but then I met the beer snobs and that theory went out the window!
I think most of us understand the basics of fermentation. You have your raw material: barley, corn, agave, grapes what have you. Once a little (either naturally occurring or introduced) yeast gets to work eating the sugar provided by the raw material, fermentation has begun. Of course each beverage has it’s own specific course of action once fermentation is happening but basically, that’s it.
It’s true too that grapes grown in different soils will produce different flavours and different feelings on the palate and this could well be true of grains grown in different soils (though I will have to investigate that idea). The thing that matters most of course is whether or not you like it when you put it in your mouth.
Most people know if they like a dark ale or a light ale. Some will even know if they like an IPA or a sour beer. Likewise people know if they like red or white wine, sweet or dry and that is a great place to start.
It’s possible to google the type of wine you like to get suggestions of what to try. It’s even better not to by shy about it and ask a person working in your local wine bar or liquor store. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer, try again somewhere else.
Most people who sell wine are more than happy to share their knowledge without making you feel dumb and are practically rabid to provide you with a goose-bumps experience that will take you on the next step of your investigation.
There is a veritable rainbow of possibilities suited to your particular taste and there are people the world over that would love to help you discover them all. I like to ask guests about their top three fruits. Their response will give me a very clear direction about what they like to taste and feel & I try to match that feeling with wine.
So don’t be afraid! You need know nothing about wine except what tastes good to you.
Unless you have a particularly keen memory it’s often good to make note of what you liked or could do without. Make your own scale if you want.
Try to enjoy what’s in your glass. Somebody made it and it’s a living thing. This means that even when a wine is faulted or over the hill, there may still be things about it to appreciate.
It’s for fun!