Hello fellow Snooths, I want start by wishing everyone Happy, Healthy & Prosperous 2010, include the Snooth Team.
I'd like to ask the following:
What would be the biggest challenges these days for Novice Wine Drinkers & Why?
Looking forward to your replies, sincerely Sam Jonas.
Biggestes challenges for Novice Wine Drinkers?
- Reply by amour, Jan 3, 2010.
I would think that with such tremendous ranges of wines today (NEW WORD WINES ARE CONSTANTLY ON THE RAPID INCREASE, USA WINERIES ARE NOW PLENTIFUL, ENGLAND...EVEN ENGLAND IS PROJECTED TO INCREASE THEIR PRODUCTION DUE TO GLOBAL WARMING AND THEREFORE CLIMATE CHANGE !!)...with such variety...today's novice may feel confused or overwhelmed!!!
This need not be so.
While I cannot immediately state succinctly...the way to go...what I would say is this......
YOU MUST FOLLOW FRANCE !!!
FIRST, GET a wine map of FRANCE.
Grasp the various main regions.
Learn the grapes.
Familiarise yourself with the way the wines in each region are classified.
Go out to tastings...LISTEN LEARN ASK QUESTIONS DEVELOP THOSE TASTE BUDS !!!
I suggest two types of development at the same time....structured and unstructured.
By all means ...MAKE NOTES. WRITE WHAT YOU THINK..FOLLOW SNOOTH. CHALLENGING ??? DEFINITELY VERY CHALLENGING.....SNOOTH WILL ASSIST IN COPING WITH THE CHALLENGES.
Start buying wines.....start a wine group in your locality...make it serious fun....STUDY THE WINES ... SOMETIMES AT LEAST....USE YOUR IMAGINATION...plan your vacations to include visits to wineries.
THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BLEDDY BOX ! BE ADVENTUROUS....ACT RESPONSIBLY AT ALL TIMES.
Will flesh out all of this in time!
BUY BOOKS ON WINE TASTING AND ON WINES ALSO.
CHEERS.......CRISTAL 1999 (BUBBLY) !!!!!!
- Reply by gregt, Jan 3, 2010.
I think the biggest challenges are the same as they always were - figuring out what's good. And that presents a second challenge - figuring out your own palate and preferences. A wine I think is good might disgust you, and vice versa. So if you go into a store and ask for advice, the person may have no idea, may direct you to a wine that he or she likes and that you might not, or may listen to what you describe as your preferences and try to help find something like that.
That gets circular because how do you describe your preferences w/out having tried a lot of wine? So you describe flavors you like, foods you like, or you can take their suggestion and then tell them what you thought and why you liked it or didn't like it. If they're any good, that will help them help you.
There are dozens, maybe hundreds of wines coming to the market every year from every country. Ancient wine producing countries like Croatia and Turkey are coming to market, newer wine-producing countries like France are putting out new products every year, and even newer places like South Africa, Brazil, and New Zealand are now producing wine.
So it's hard to figure it out.
Assuming you are buying from stores, my approach would be this:
Try a few wines. Select the one that you like most. Look at where it is from. Go back to the store or to another store and ask for wines from the same area. Pay attention to the vintage - it can matter. Ask about the blend of grapes that are in the wine. Try to find some other wines made from those grapes and try some from a different country. You might not find many, or any. So you learned something. Just keep doing that and you'll be surprised at how quickly you pick things up.
I started drinking wine pretty randomly. Then I started thinking that if I liked wine A from some place, maybe I'd like another from there. That finally gave me an "aha" moment when I realized I had an idea of what I was going to get from that area.
Every country has different rules. Don't even try to learn them in the beginning. It's just too hard to learn in the abstract. Every country makes good wine, so don't feel that you need to learn about one country as opposed to another, or before another.
As far as reading and studying, it simply confused the hell out of me initially. If you've tasted some wine first and you read to learn about those wines, that's far more useful than reading first, then tasting. After a while it won't matter so much but in the beginning I think it's better to taste first, taste more, and then start asking more questions about rules, technology, etc.,
Also, one thing you should do is turn the bottle around and look at that information. Go to a store and look at a few bottles. Some of them will say "Imported by XXXX" or even better, "A Joe Blow Selection". That is useful. Guys like Joe Blow go out looking for wine and then find people to sell it. They usually stick to one or two countries but also usually have particular tastes so if you like one of their wines, you may like others. Ditto the reverse. So that can be a big help in guiding your selection and learning.
- Reply by amour, Jan 12, 2010.
sjcompas, how are you progressing???
There are some fantastic threads by other beginners.
HAVE YOU TASTED AN ARGENTINE MALBEC AS YET?
- Reply by mousking1, Jan 12, 2010.
my biggest challenge is there are more bottles i want, than there are dollars in the bank. also learning what he tastes actually are because when you put a cherry in your mouth you know that the taste is a cherry, but when you don't see a cherry can you figure out that is what you are tasting?
- Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 12, 2010.
The biggest challenge has become the huge pricing discrepancy between the good and the great. It's difficult to know what one is drinking if one is unaware of the potential of the soil, grape, vintage, etc.
Twenty years ago it was possible to buy the occasional splurge Bordeaux first growth, Leroy Burgundy or Riserva Barolo, not to mention Gran Reserva Rioja, Grand Cru Chablis and Tet de Cuvee Champagne.
Wines that were $40 then are now $300. Just to put that in perspective, $40 in 1985 adjusts to about $80 today. So in real terms the great wines are now several times as expensive as they once were.
With top wines now the domain of the rich and collector, other, less impressive wines, have risen to take the space they once occupied. I call the $50 to $100 price range, the dead zone for many wines. In some regions, there is a real uptick in quality there, but in many the wines just have gotten more expensive to fill a void.
Greg T gives some great advice, but one thing I would stress is find a tasting group. Get access to people who will shared aged wines, more expensive wines, off the beaten track wines. Those will exponentially expand your vinous universe and the wealth of knowledge these types of people are generally willing to share is irreplaceable.
Ok, my 2 cents.
- Reply by WineForNewbies2, Jan 12, 2010.
GregDP, I'd say your comments were worth more than 2 cents. I agree, getting a tasting group going is one of the best things you can do. You can read and study all you want, but if you want to learn about wine, you have to drink the stuff. As I've said before, reading about wine is like reading about physical exercise. To get the benefit, you have to put the book down and do it.
I've been using Neil Monnens' publication, Wine Blue Book (http://winebluebook.com/) to try to hone in on the wines that produce more bang for the buck (at least according to the major wine critics and their scores, but you have to start somewhere). I really like this tool, but living in Indiana in the US my options are limited--our wholesalers only bring in about 5% of the wines available in the world, and our shipping laws are too restrictive.
That's my 2 cents for this morning.
- Reply by amour, Jan 12, 2010.
YES...I JUST FORMED AN INFORMAL GROUP AT WORK.......so others can actually taste some better stuff...it is no fun if you are tasting and others around you want to and cannot...so a group has been formed!!!
YA ALL ....do the same....My people want to taste expensive ICEWINES for a start...
- Reply by dirkwdeyoung, Jan 12, 2010.
I think a big challenge for novices is that wines that they can read about may not be readily available at affordable prices. I seldom go to the store with a menu in mind, instead I go to the store and see what is on sale today and build a meal around it. Thus, it could be lamb, or a great steak or snow crab legs at $5.00/lb.
Same with wine. It is important to be clever within the realm of the possible. The more you know the better chance for success, but without being armed with a storehouse of knowledge, it must be very confusing and a little intimidating.
I think a good start could be a strategy to get familiar with the different main grape varieties first. Each time buy for example two different bottles of pinot noir, so you get a good idea of what that can taste like, then try the same with cabernet sauvignon, pinot grigio, etc. The different types of grapes has to be the major dimension for starting out.
Once you are comfortable with that, then try wines from different regions and compare. I like this idea of always having two different wines on the same evening. Like recently I entertained and offered one wine from sangiovese and one from nebbiolo, so you progress from comparing wines from the same grape to wines from two different distinct varieties, but maybe related experiences.
Just pinging around like that with different but certain possibilities will build confidence.
- Reply by zufrieden, Jan 12, 2010.
Another big hurdle faced by the neophyte is the sheer volume of choice. Just 35 years ago, there was a fraction of the New (and Old) World producers there are today. Many obscure (and sometimes marginal) regions throughout the world have benefited from massive new investment and wine chic. But do not despair. This is actually good news because many of these new producers are competing quite well with traditional regions and producers. That's why I agree with a couple of the respondents that you should look first at varietals, then blends, and lastly, the famous wine producing regions.
You can follow a few suggestions of local wine critics on where you might hunt for the best bargains while at the same time gradually educating your palate. A few tastings in the mix can't hurt either.
- Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 13, 2010.
Excellent point and one I frequently bring up. I have repeatedly mentioned to people that, as a percentage of what was available to be known, I knew much more about wine 20 years ago than I do today. I had read virtually every book I could find about wine, perhaps 50, many were out of date, and there simply weren't the numbers of wineries, grapes, and regions that we have now.
My approach to learning about wine back then was one I would continue to recommend. Choose a region and focus on it for months. 6 months works well. particularity if you split the summer months between two regions. Many regions may take far less but that is how I approached getting my feet wet and while it will take much longer to work through the world these days it's still a good way to begin to learn about wine.
- Reply by amour, Jan 14, 2010.
WELL SAID Gregory!
Thank you for sharing, as usual.
- Reply by moonjockey, Jan 15, 2010.
This looks like a good place to post thisl I am a neewbie at 49. Dont ask what took so long. Wife and I went to a vinyard here in the Georgia Monutains and tasted several and i fell in love with wine. So we bought a bottle. Since then i opened a few bottles we recieved as gifts over the years. I have now had a merlot, two cabs, chianti, and chard. Now I have to go shop and buy. I have been reading online wine webs to learn a bit. I went to the local liquor and wine store here and there are rows and rows of wine.l They had them seperated by red and white and then by region. But I was overwhelmed. The prices went from 7 bucks to over 50. They have a room for the higher end wines, i did not even go in there. They also had some reviews for some wines taped below. I ended up with a cab for 16 and a chianti for 15. I thought anything cheeper may not be good and i am not sure what makes a wine worth 30, 40 or 50 bucks or more. I knnow this is not an easy question, but what is the sweet spot? What makles a wine cost so much more from a taste perspective then the lesser costing ones?
I am having a blast trying all kinds and I am journaling what I like and dont so if I find a bottle i really love i have it in my database.
P.S I opened the bottle I bought because I liked the label, it was a Dynamite Vinyards Cab 2005, and i think I got muy moneys worth...
Thanks for any help as I navigate my way....
- Reply by amour, Jan 16, 2010.
One does not need to know every specific principle of science as
relates to a car in order to drive a car well.
However driving lessons do help! And practice makes perfect !
Similarly, all the details of viniculture are unnecessary for the full
enjoyment of wine , to a point.
But a thorough understanding of the basics and I would say a bit more than
basics, will go a long way toward a greater and more meaningful appreciation of wine.
AFTER ALL, WINE IS NOT JUST AN ORDINARY DRINK !!
- Reply by Lucha Vino, Jan 16, 2010.
dirkwdeyoung has a great suggestion - open two bottles so you can compare the same varietal from different winemakers or two different varietals to one another etc. Just make sure you have friends over to help finish off the bottles or have a good way to save the remaining wine without too much oxidation!
I am hoping to do this tonight with a couple of cabs from different regions of the world.
- Reply by amour, Jan 16, 2010.
I DO HOPE ONE IS FROM FRANCE AND AT LEAST ONE IS FROM SOUTH AFRICA AS WELL!
- Reply by intoreds, Jan 17, 2010.
BEING a complete newbie, I'd have to say thanks to everybody for your input and I'll throw on from a first-hand perspective. The biggest challenge I've had in the past that I'm starting to get over is understanding and developing my palette. When I first started to read the reviews and try to internally rate what I liked and why, I never tasted "notes of almond" and an "earthiness" in my wine.. it was more like "its red".
Some things have helped me a lot in my journey, take them for what their worth...
- Drinking more regularly. Having a glass of wine once every week or two doesn't help you develop an understanding. To echo WineforNewbies2's comment on physical exercise, it's like doing a 5k once a month and expecting to get fit.
- Minimizing the variables. I have a real love of Pinots, and I when I was starting for some reason I wanted to know what the hype was about Oregon. I tried Pinot Noir from MANY different regions to find out if I noticed any trends (Oregon performed marvelously btw).
- Recording my findings. When I started reviewing, then reading others' reviews on the bottle I just had, it helped me to translate my response and my findings.
Nothing new, really, but maybe validation from somebody's who's "green" and can relate to all the good advice you guys are giving.
- Reply by amour, Jan 17, 2010.
intoreds spoke of developing the palate...
A few points on tasting ability.....
it is often said that the more one
has tasted, the less clear-cut one's
reaction is, and the less dogmatic
This being so, obviously because
the experienced taster has been exposed
to such a wide range of closely related smells,
and tastes, and has encounterd so many exceptions
to the rule.
On the other hand, the BEGINNER has
fresh perception, an uncluttered vinous memory
and sometimes even greater certainty and accuracy
of identification !
Something to ponder on and be happy about as a BEGINNER !!!
CHEERS !! About to try an ARGENTINE MERLOT (MARCUS JAMES)...
bought at my local supermarket in MIAMI.