There are several approaches to regular folk wine education. Courses may focus on the varietal grapes and the regions in which they best grow. Other courses concentrate solely on regions and others, still, prefer to introduce the consumer to the family of wines throughout the world. These courses provide the merchants with a platform to encourage further purchases. Appreciation as a means to economic growth is the key.
Many courses focus, for the most part, on the six popular varietals: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling for the whites and, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon for the reds. For those not in the know, this is generally a good place to begin. I believe that these wine courses give the participant a vocabulary by which one can describe his/her experience of the taste of the wine: “I liked the wine because it had these characteristics.” or “I disliked it because of these qualities”. We are being encouraged to describe our tastes and provide justifications.
Think of something in which you are well-versed, say, professional hockey or orchid cultivation. There is a vocabulary, a language that the community of speakers share to articulate the experience of their interest. Well, wine appreciation is not unique in this aspect. It can be demystified easily. So, you are introduced to the salient features of the six varietals then left to explore the variations. You understand that you have been given a basic toolkit and it is up to you to go forth and drink. It takes little effort and some disposable income.
However, this effort will require some attention to detail. Pay attention to groceries you purchase. Make an effort to smell anything you ingest, be it food, beverages or vices. Odour and taste are important. Remember all you are trying to do is describe why you enjoyed a particular taste or not. One of my early and constant frustrations is that some people can describe specific odours whereas, due to pollen allergies, I can only describe categories such as berry, melon, apple or earthy. I am limited. This does not stop me from trying, though. I am getting better at it.
So what? Who cares? What difference does it make? I believe growers and vintners bottle wine and expect you to enjoy their product as it will lead to repeat purchases. They craft the beverage in a way to create a pleasurable drink. They would like you to acknowledge their efforts and give them some consideration. We all enjoy being sloshed, so do it with some style. The more you practice the more you shape your preferences. Does this necessarily lead to stratospheric wine vintages and prices? No, it does not.
For the last twenty years or so I have explored many wines around the 15 to 20 dollar price point. There are exceptional finds in this range. There are also some good wines that are even less expensive. It comes down to taking risks and purchasing what you can afford. Fine wine sales only account for 5% of total wine sales across the globe. Most folks drink wine that is immediate, pleasant and pleasurable.
Part of the appeal of wine is how it pairs with food. Beer can be appreciated in the same way. (The Cranky Beer Blogger is a local reviewer whose beer kung fu is strong. Check him out.) So once you have a handle on taste, viscosity, texture, balance, weight or body, start thinking about the food you ingest. What goes well with BBQ, oven roast or stove top food? Take a risk. Use your discretion. The more you practice and experiment the more you begin to experience dinner and drink as a pleasurable aesthetic experience.
( More Thought on Wine Appreciation HERE)