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How to Become a Wine Connoisseur

Sep 17, 2013 01:59AM ● By Erin Frisch

Have you ever wondered how wine connoisseurs can tell so much about a glass of wine after just a few whiffs and sips? It’s almost as though they were born with a special instinct. But it’s really a skill, like anything else, and you can acquire it too with experience, passion, and genuine interest. Following these tips on how to become an oenophile, or wine connoisseur, will help too.

• Join a class. You can research wines on your own (and you should), but there’s nothing like having an expert as your personal mentor to guide you through the learning process. Whether you take a few classes or an entire course, you’ll not only learn more about wine but also meet people who share your interests. Think of the connections you’ll make!

• Visit wineries and wine shops. The people who work at wineries and wine shops are usually wine lovers themselves. The owners, for the most part, are connoisseurs too. Strike up a conversation with these folks the next time you shop for wine. True aficionados will be glad to share their knowledge and opinions with you, and they’ll be excited to answer your wine-related questions.

• Go to wine-tasting events. Wine tastings offer different varieties of wines for sampling, so you can sample interesting wines that you might not otherwise try and expand your horizons. These events are relaxed as well as relaxing, and they offer you opportunities to network with others who share your interest. In addition, many are attended by oenophiles with different levels of expertise, giving you the chance to mingle with novices, masters, and everyone in between.

• Learn the proper way to taste wine. Seasoned wine aficionados can tell what kind of grape was used to make a particular wine simply by looking at it. Maybe you’re not at that level yet, but you don’t have to project an image of a total beginner either. Tasting wine the right way is easy to do. Just remember these four S’s:

1. See: Inspect the wine from all angles. You’ll notice that wines come in different shades, consistencies, and densities. With enough practice, you’ll be able to identify the kind of wine you’re drinking based on its specific attributes.

2. Swirl: Gently move your glass in a circular motion to let the wine swirl against the sides. This movement releases aromas and will enrich your wine-tasting experience. It will also help you distinguish one wine scent from another.

3. Smell: Inhale deeply and enjoy the fragrance. At this point, you can distinguish the unique aromas of whites and reds. White wines tend to have a cool, citrusy, tangy scent, while reds tend to have a warm, ripe, earthy scent.

4. Sip: Finally, take a sip and allow your nose and mouth to savor the rich blend of flavors in the wine. Taste is heavily influenced by scent, which is why connoisseurs smell wine first before drinking it.

• Experiment with wine-and-food pairings. Wine can improve the flavor of foods, but only if the flavors of the dish complement the wine. This chart from Wine Folly (an educational wine blog) is a handy reference Use it the next time you choose a glass or bottle of wine to accompany a meal.

Learning how to become a wine connoisseur takes time, just like creating fine wine does. But if you really love wine, it will be worth your effort.

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