How Not to be Intimidated by Wine

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Wine Tasting 08

Photo Credit: Charles H. Wright Museum (flickr.com)

I am not a traditional wine drinker. In fact, I only drink wine during special occasions like weddings or at formal dinners I get invited to. I bring wines as gifts and while many of my friends are encouraging me to start collecting wines, I have yet to follow their advice. Not that I don’t like wine, but I confess to be slightly intimidated by it and to be honest, I wonder how other people can casually say words like pinot noir and sound like they’ve been saying it all their lives.

A few years ago, I was sitting in a restaurant having dinner with a friend when I heard someone order red wine. Immediately, my friend who happens to be an accomplished chef started snickering and when I asked what was so funny, he said that the man was ordering the wrong kind of wine with their meal. I pretended to laugh along but deep down, I was so relieved to be not that man because I would’ve been the target of my friend’s snickering as I too, didn’t know much about wine.

It’s easy to understand why people are intimidated by wine. If we were just talking about soda then you’ll know that you can pair soda with practically everything and not have to worry about anything else. With wine, however, you need to make sure that the wine you order or buy for your dinner party goes well with whatever you’re serving and that there are rules to follow about how red wine goes with meat and white wine goes with seafood, etc.

Living in Australia which is one of the world’s leading wine exporters, people almost expect me to know about red wine for example,  like the back of my hand and I wish that was true but I still have so many things to learn. You can ask me when the first vineyard was planted (1788) and where (close to where the Sydney Harbour Bridge now stands) or that over 30,000 Australians are employed in the wine industry and contributing about $5.5 billion to the nation’s economy but other than facts and figures, I am intimidated by wine and therefore, know almost nothing about it.

Again, this was a few years ago and I have learned a lot since then. First of all, I have learned never to order wine before knowing what I am about to eat at any restaurant because this just screams amateur. It’s actually not rocket science but the secret to be less intimidated by wine is to learn how to drink it. Learning how to taste wine is a good way to start and once you’ve been on a number of wine-tasting events, you’ll be an expert at telling the difference between a sauvignon and a shiraz.

You don’t need to go to fancy wine tasting events in order to learn how to taste wine. Going to the local wine shop will suffice because you can certainly ask your friendly wine shop staff about the wines you plan to taste and how to taste them. You can also try to learn how to taste wine by doing some online research or watching videos about wine tasting. When you start to learn more about wines, you’ll feel less and less intimidated by it and more and more confident by the time the next formal dinner rolls around.

And lastly, you can also try attending food and wine festivals that happen all year round and you can also book winery tours and really get a feel of the regions where the wine was made. One tip though: make sure you have a designated driver if you plan to visit more than one winery.

You might also like:

8 Rules of Wine Drinking (askmen.com)

Intimidated by Wine? Start Drinking (palatepress.com)

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