One of the biggest secrets to learning about wine (and learning anything) is creating a need to study.
For the longest time, I was throwing spaghetti at the wall in attempts to learn wine. A blog here, a YouTube there, and a book every so often. None of it ever stuck.
To get serious about wine, you need a reason to dive deep.
So today, I’m presenting 5 common reasons to study wine and a quick action plan to get started.
- You want to get a wine certification.
- You’re going on a wine trip.
- You want to impress someone with your wine knowledge.
- You want to be able to speak to someone with impressive wine knowledge.
- You want to look cool at a restaurant.
I’d love to know, which of these resonates most with you?
You want to get a wine certification.
Certifications come in all shapes and sizes. From region specific certifications, Spanish Wine Scholar, or more general, WSET 2.
The vast majority of these programs have structured learning either online or in-person.
Before you get started, do your research and reach out to people who’ve taken the program recently.
Once you find a good fit, follow the plan and build a study group to keep you accountable.
You’re going on a wine trip.
A great reason for a beginner because your trip gives you a deadline to help you focus.
- Start with blogs and YouTube videos.
- Go to a great local wine shop and ask for recommendations on wines from that region.
- Plan your visit around the favorite wines you samples before your trip.
- Connect with wineries on social media, too.
The biggest thing people fail to do before their first wine trip is any research. You should know at least one producer and a few of the predominant grape varieties.
You want to impress someone with your wine knowledge.
This is maybe the worst reason to learn about wine, because no one likes an ass or a complete know-it-all (remember that Key & Peele clip from a few weeks back).
But, people loves stories.
Your best bet is to learn lots of random wine facts and short anecdotes. Have them at the ready. If the right opportunity presents itself, you might impress someone.
But in reality, this is a terrible reason and structure to learn anything.
You want to be able to connect with someone with impressive wine knowledge.
Unlike wanting to impress someone, this is a worthwhile reason.
The hardest thing to overcome is your imposter syndrome. When I reached out to my wine heroes to host the Road To Wine Expert Summit, I was afraid people wouldn’t even return my emails. It turns out most people with wine knowledge want to encourage others who are learning.
Worst case scenario, you make their day because such a small percentage truly engage.
You want to look cool at a restaurant.
So, I wanted to highlight this one, because several people told me they were worried about looking foolish at a restaurant.
But the advice is simple:
- Study the wine list beforehand, if available
- Think about what you’re going to eat, and search the internet for possible pairings.
- Know what you’re willing to spend.
- Know what you and your guest like drink.
Step 4 is the most difficult task. Beyond knowing what you like, you need to communicate it to the Sommelier if a particular wine isn’t available.
Here’s an example of harmful vs. helpful language to a Sommelier:
Harmful: We only drink Big Buttery California Chardonnay.
Why this sucks: Now, the Sommelier has to figure out if you want exactly that or something that pairs with the food you’ve selected.
Helpful: I was hoping to try a Cabernet Franc with our dinner tonight, but I couldn’t find one on your list. Could you suggest something similar around $70?
Why this rocks: You’re showing openness to suggestion, you have an idea of what you’d like, and you’ve named your price. Hello, transparency! Your chances of having a great bottle increased.
Free Run Juice
*free-run juice is a wine term for the grape juice that comes from their own weight prior to pressing. These are weekly tidbits that came out from my own wine reading.
Steve Spurrier, The Man Who Changed the Wine World
We sadly lost Steve last year, and this past week marked the 46th anniversary of the Judgement of Paris: the head-to-head competition of California vs. France that he organized.
This is one of my favorite profiles on Steve, and I’m so grateful to have met him when I won my wine award. Legend.
I’m Scared About How Much I Need Wine!
Patti Harrison was great in every sketch of I Think You Should Leave. But her wine lines from this Shark Tank spoof are some of my most quoted moments when bottles are being popped.
But please note, I have no problem with bald boys. Those opinions are her own.
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