It’s hardly common knowledge that pinot gris and pinot grigio are actually not the same thing, but it could be. With the help of a few wine experts we put together a guide to make the world of wine much less daunting for beginners. Here’s how to get started on the road to becoming a wine connoisseur.
Invest in the experience
Wine educator Virginia Jacobs is all about helping people understand and enjoy wine through her classes, events and articles on Wine Taste Talk. Here’s her main advice to wine newbies:
“Invest in some good wine glasses, you will be amazed at the difference that they will make to the flavours and aromas you can pick up and the enjoyment you get from the wine. Some are made to suit one variety, these are not necessary for the beginner. Spend what you are comfortable with for good tasting glasses with a good-sized bowl of clear glass that tapers at the top and has a fine, not rolled lip.”
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Get started with a set of quality glasses from MyDeal home and garden.
Be adventurous in your choices
Secret Bottle is Australia's first wine tasting subscription box where members can taste 6 glasses of wine delivered monthly and order the ones they love. Their top tip for beginners is to get out of your comfort zone.
“Have an open-minded approach to wine and taste a variety of different wines. Often people stick to the same types of wine and have preconceptions of what they like/don't like, but each wine is different and you don't know if you are going to like it until you taste it.”
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Start a wine club
Learning a new skill is twice as fun when you do it with others. Luckily wine tasting lends itself well to a group setting. Invite your friends to join in and host a casual wine club. Meet at the house with the most spacious sofa, set out a few nibbles and you’re in action. To start with you could ask attendees to bring along a bottle they’ve been wanting to try. As your knowledge grows theme each session around a particular wine variety and taste different brands to enhance your understanding of winemakers and regions.
Train your palate
Casey, from The Travelling Corkscrew, has been actively involved in the wine world for almost 15 years. She recommends tasting more than just wine to build up a knowledge of flavours.
"Taste as many wines as possible, but not only that, smell and taste fruits and vegetables, smell different flowers, herbs and plants and things like leather, rubber and wet rocks. The more in-tune you are with understanding the aromas and flavours in a wine, the easier it'll be to start to understand different grape varieties and wine styles".
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What about the bubbly?
Natalie Pickett is a writer and wine lover from The Bubbles Review where you can find all the best advice on anything Champagne or sparkling wine related. We asked her for a brief overview of bubbles for beginners.
“It is Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region in France using the traditional method to create the fine bubbles. Otherwise bubbly, bubbles, sparkling wine it is. Prosecco is a different method originating in Italy, and Cava is the traditional Spanish bubbly. Tasting Champagne is very sensual, take time to saviour each one. Visual – beautiful bubbles; Smell – lovely aromas, Touch – bubbles and minerality create mouthfeel; Taste – different blends create great flavours; Feel – how you feel drinking it. Cheers!”
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Take yourself from a wine beginner to a fully-fledged connoisseur this year. All it takes is a bit of expert advice followed by a lot of practice.