Does wine knowledge increase wine enjoyment? I think it does. But I want to be clear in saying that wine should be enjoyed, whether you know a lot or a little about it.
One of my goals in my wine tastings is to help people have more fun with wine. Early on in my tastings, especially tastings for wine newbies, I say something along the lines of “It’s time to get over our discomfort and intimidation with wine. After all, we are drinking fermented grape juice.”
It’s hard to enjoy yourself or your wine when you’re feeling uptight about not knowing enough or you’re feeling like you need to impress people with your wine knowledge. I think that increasing people’s confidence around wine goes a long way in helping people have fun with it.
I think there are three key areas where having a little wine knowledge can help build confidence and increase enjoyment.
Fun Wine Knowledge
1. Wine Tasting Basics
The four “S’s” of wine tasting are key:
Yes, you can add a few more “S’s”, if you’d like – slurp, savor, etc. But it really doesn’t matter the exact number of “S’s”. The key is that these “S” steps help you pay attention to the whole tasting experience. They get your senses fully involved, and they help you get a really good tasting. Swirling aerates the wine, which brings the aromas to the surface, and smelling gives you the beautiful aromas, which account for about 90% of the tasting experience!
2. What to Look for When Tasting Wine
Are you smelling and tasting fruit? If so, is it tropical, citrus, berry or a stone fruit? Are you smelling and tasting spices? What kinds? Is the wine making your mouth pucker? Is the wine making your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth?
Questions such as these help you get more involved in the tasting experience, which makes the experience more fun. It also makes the tasting more purposeful. You’re not tasting strictly for the sake of tasting. You’re tasting to answer questions ☺
3. Wine Jargon
When a wine makes your mouth pucker, it’s helpful to be able to use the word “acidic” to explain your experience. Having this word in your vocabulary enables you to ask questions such as, “Do I like acidic wines?”, “Is this wine more acidic than the previous one?”, “What foods pair best with acidic wines?”, and “Do different foods affect how I experience acidic wines?”
Here are two more wine-jargon examples.
When your tongue feels like it’s sticking to the roof of your mouth, it’s helpful to know the word “tannin”, which is the likely cause of what you’re experiencing.
When you observe a lot of sensations in your mouth after the wine has gone down, the word “finish” comes in handy. Wow, that wine had a long finish. Yum!
Knowing a few wine terms can help you understand what you’re experiencing with each wine and can also enable you to engage in conversations with other wine appreciators.
So here’s the bottom line. Wine is meant to be enjoyed. Anything you can do to increase your enjoyment is great. I recommend getting to know wine tasting basics, what to look for when tasting a wine, and a little bit of wine jargon. A little serious learning can result in a lot of serious fun with wine.
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
Betty Kaufman, WineShop At Home
Thanks for the educational post, Betty. I wouldn’t have thought so, but knowing these terms definitely makes it more comfortable when drinking wine. I always had a hard time explaining what I liked or didn’t like in a wine so I usually didn’t say much. Now I have a bit of language to use to describe what I’m experiencing. This will also come in handy when ordering unfamiliar wine in a restaurant. Now I can explain to the waiter what characteristics I enjoy and find an enjoyable wine. Great post!
Vicki, you captured what I wanted to say so well that I’m going to post your comment on Fb. Thank you!
Very useful information, as always, Betty! It does make a difference to be able to put words around what I am experiencing when I taste a wine, especially a new wine I have never tried before.
Donna, I completely agree. When we see an apple, it’s much quicker to say, “oh, there’s an apple” than “oh, there’s a red circular thing with something coming out of the top.” 🙂
I completely agree! I enjoy wine much, much more now that I’ve become more educated about it. And it becomes just so much more fascinating, interesting and fun when you know what you’re tasting and what your smelling.
Actually, I can’t get enough info about wine, but then again, I’m a big old geek that way! : )
From one wine geek to another 🙂 Tonight, I was tasting WSAH’s new red blend (syrah and petite sirah). I was frustrated that I couldn’t figure out what I was tasting. Thank goodness for the notes.
Ahem. Please find missing >> ‘re << from the second "your" in my comment up there. : )
From one grammar geek to another 🙂
I NEVER like the feeling of my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth. Now i know what causes that .. or likely causes that.
And I love my aerator from WSAH so I can swirly and savor my monthly wine delivery more. In fact, expecting a delivery any day now.
The good news is that tannins soften over time. If you lay down a tannin-heavy wine like a Cabernet for a year or two, it can make a big difference. Thanks for your comments!
I don’t think I was truly able to enjoy wine, Betty, until I started wine tasting with you and understanding that just knowing just few tidbits can help you get the most from your glass. And that ultimately it doesn’t matter how you critique the wine but simply how wonderful it tastes to you.
Now when I’m tasting your wines (or enjoying a 6th wine tasting from you!), I’m thinking ‘what does my mouth say’ (versus what does my brain say about tannins, finish, acidity, and all that jazz).
Isn’t fun to have a few tricks up your sleeve to help you enjoy wine tasting even more? Thanks for the comments and for your great support of my business!
When Betty hosted a wine tasting for our real estate brokerage, we all had a GREAT time. Betty mentioned the 4 “S’s” in the article, but our favorite “S” from the wine tasting presentation was “swallow”! I highly recommend everyone have a wine tasting presentation with Betty if you haven’t already done so. It saved us a trip to Napa, so that we could spend more time together selling houses! *Cheers*
Dallas, how could I have left SWALLOW off the list? My bad 🙂 Thanks for commenting, and thanks for being a great tasting host!