Everything you have said so far sounds good. But how do I find out what I like to drink?
Drink a glass, of course. If you like it, then buy something similar. If you don’t like it, pour it down the drain and try something else. Wine is not rocket science. You don’t have to go to school to learn how to like it. If it tastes good to you, that’s enough.
Start with inexpensive wines, and work your way up. And don’t be afraid to try different wines. Just because you like white zinfandel doesn’t mean that’s the only wine you can drink. Try a rose or a German riesling. They are similar to white zinfandel, but more sophisticated.
Well, I suppose. But there are so many wines to choose from. How do I get started?
Walk into a wine store, or a grocery store with a good wine department, and ask for help. Do you want to learn about reds? Whites? About a region? About wine for picnics? About inexpensive wines? Don’t try to learn everything in one day. It can’t be done, for one thing, and it’s not any fun either.
Tell the staff how much you want to spend, if you have any preferences (dry vs. sweet, red vs. white, and the like), and ask them to recommend something. In addition, ask if they offer classes or tastings. These days, as wine becomes more popular, more and more stores do those things. They’re cheap and easy ways to taste even more wine.
How can you tell I tell if the retailer is any good? If they don’t tell you what wine you should drink, but ask you what you want to drink. It’s your money – don’t let a snooty retailer with inventory to move make you buy something you don’t want to buy. And if you buy something you don’t like on a retailer’s recommendation, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell them the next time you’re in the store.
That makes sense. But aren’t there some simple rules of thumb, just to start with?
Sure. Remember these, and you’ll always be able to come up with a decent bottle in a pinch. First, all wine doesn’t have to be a varietal like chardonnay or cabernet. The best values, especially for inexpensive wine, will be blended from several different grapes. It’s very difficult to find a terrific cabernet for less than $10, but there are a dozen red blends that will do the same thing the cabernet does for one-third less.
Second, younger is better, since less expensive wines were not made to last as long as their more expensive cousins. Stay away from red wines older than 3 and white wines older than 2. It’s better to have a wine that’s a little too young than a little too old.
That should you get you started. The rest is up to you. The most fun part about wine is the journey – so much wine to taste, and so little time to do it.