Wine tasting can sometimes seem like an intimidating and complex code, with its fancy terminology and odd rituals. These hurdles can turn some people off from wine, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Keeping wine tasting simple is not only more approachable for most of us; it can also turn a scary experience into something incredibly enjoyable that is accessible to everyone. Below, I have listed some ways to reframe how you think about wine tasting.
- Trust Your Palate: Wine tasting is, at its core, a truly personal experience with the simple aim of finding out if you like a wine or not. That is it. Do you Like it, or do you not? It doesn’t really matter if you can taste the particular flower that the tasting notes wax on about, or if you even know what a freshly oiled grandfather clock is or why it is mentioned in the notes as well. What matters is that you let your taste buds be your guide and focus on your own personal enjoyment. This brings me to the next point.
- Don’t Overthink it: When you hear people in a Master Sommelier Movie or at a local wine shop talk about all the nuances they find in a wine, that does not mean they enjoy it more than you. I would actually argue they probably enjoy it less. All the words they use, and references they make are a learned language that they have spent years and countless hours learning. Getting caught up in all this noise can detract from the enjoyment of the casual wine drinker. Just go back to suggestion #1, and if you like the wine in front of you, enjoy the moment.
- Learn at Your Own Pace: Wine and the world around wine is a rabbit hole you can go down as far as you want. Finding what interests you and pursuing those threads is a journey and does not need to be compared to anyone else. Don’t think you need to know the history of something or how it was made in order to enjoy it. Those are just fun things to add on once you have found a lane that interests you.
- Pair with what YOU eat: I have a friend who probably doesn’t even remember saying this, who once told me, “The biggest mistake the wine industry has made is making everyone believe that you have to eat Foie Gras in order to enjoy wine.” Wine should go with whatever you want, and you should always eat what you like and drink what you like with it. Something could be the most incredible pairing in the world (as told by “experts”), but if the wine and food are things you don’t like, guess what…You probably won’t enjoy it.
- Enjoy the Journey: If you start trying a lot of wines, you will find some that you like and others that you are not as excited about, and you will have some friends who enjoy the same things as you and some who don’t. I think that is all part of the fun. We all have different tastes, but wine, like music, has the power to bring us together even when we like different genres.
In the end, it is obvious that I think wine tasting should be about your enjoyment, not conforming to rigid rules or trying to impress some person who you may never see again with all of your expertise. Keeping it simple allows you to savor the beauty of wine on your own terms. So keep in mind the next time you are tasting, “Do you like it or do you not like it…That is all”