Tipsy’s Top Five Tips On Learning About Wine

I used to be an occasional wine drinker for no other reason than the fact that it was there. I was mostly a beer and mixed drink type of person. This was because I knew NOTHING about wine other than I thought I liked only white, cold, crisp wine. My old routine was, have a taste for wine,  go to the store, look for the Sauvignon Blanc section and (GASP)  buy the one with the best looking label that also met my varying price point requirements for that week’s budget. A terrible habit I know.

Then I went to work for Whole Foods Market. Working at WFM required LOTS of wine.  Beer was too heavy to drink after a long busy day. Liquor was too much of a headache the next day.  But wine… for some reason wine went down easy and didn’t give me much of a headache.  I decided to take advantage of two perks that working at Whole Foods Market got you, the 20% discount on everything, yes even liquor, and the knowledgeable specialty department team members. I began to try some things out and thus began my journey into becoming a wine connoisseur. I came up with five ways to start learning about wine so I didn’t end  up in a wine prison made from empty Charles Shaw Crates. These five steps helped me feel more confident, make better wine choices and begin to appreciate wine for more than just a pretty label.

1.Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions, Even If You Don’t Know The Lingo

First and foremost, wine can be scary.  People who know about wine, sometimes do not like people who don’t know about wine.  They can be impatient, judgemental, intimidating and downright aggressive about it.  I am sure if you are a wine neophyte like me you have been subjected to the wine sneer.  I mean hey, if you DO NOT APPRECIATE a good $4.99 bottle of Barefoot Bubbly, that’s your problem you wine bully! I was hesitant to ask what I should be drinking because I didn’t know the right words to describe what I liked. Motivated by that 20% WFM discount, I decided to throw caution to the wind and tell someone what I think I liked and come clean about my Barefoot Wine addiction. I narrowed down a list of wine words that I googled in order to attempt to describe the notes in wine that I think I liked. I armed myself with these words and approached a team member to come clean. I was not sorry, no sneer, and she introduced me to some great “New To Me” wines that I still favor to this day.

2. Find Yourself A Reliable Wine “Dealer”

I loved the specialty department at Whole Foods Market and found the staff approachable, knowledgeable and shockingly budget conscious. They ultimately gave me the confidence to approach others about what I should be drinking. Besides Whole Foods,  there are other wine neophyte friendly places to learn from. I have found other “dealers”  that share the same, non-condescending approach to selling you the good stuff and really are interested in making you a wine lover.  Even if you’re in the early stages of transitioning off the Barefoot & Charles Shaw, these places will help!  Here are a couple of places I recommend  besides Whole Foods that aren’t going to judge you. No Wine Sneer At These Places!

Taste Food & Wine ~ Rogers Park, Right Off The Jarvis Red Line Stop

The Wine Goddess ~ South Evanston

Rogers Park Fine Wines ~ Rogers Park, Clark Street

Schaefer’s Wine ~ Skokie, Illinois

Goddess & Grocer ~ Various Locations

3.  Take Advantage Of The Kindness Of Others

We all have that friend who likes wine and either knows about it or fakes it a lot better than you can. In order not to waste any more money on bottles of wine I didn’t like and to save myself the shame, I started to ask my friends for “a sip” of their wine when we were out.  I would also ask them to describe why they liked it and to tell me about what they knew about the wine. This was a great way to try tons of wines and to narrow down what I liked and didn’t like, without spending any money! Sorry friends but you can feel good you are helping me achieve my wine dreams.

4. Keep A Wine Journal

Lame, maybe, useful, definitely.  I started to take pictures of the wine I bought and liked. I would make notes on them as far as cost, drink-a-bility, flavors I picked up on, and even the level of hangover I had after drinking the whole bottle.  These notes help when you DO meet that dealer who doesn’t judge you. It can really help them pinpoint what you enjoy in wines and they can begin to help you broaden your horizons.  Even if you still don’t know the right words to put in your journal, the “Wine People” will appreciate your dedication to learning.

5. Get Yourself On The Guest List For Wine Events, Tastings, Classes, Pairing Events, WHATEVER, Basically Try To Achieve Wine Girl Groupie Status

I started saying YES to anything wine.  I try as much wine as I possibly can.  I have gone to Napa Valley to visit one of my favorite Uncles and explore the wineries. I take advantage of the Bon Appetit Gourmet Food Festival as often as I can, I sign up for wine dinners and wine themed cooking classes.  If you do not have access to these types of events, there are plenty of You Tube Videos that teach about wine, you can order wine online  AND there are a lot of Wine Classes you can buy to do online that are self guided. A friend gifted me a great one for my birthday and I have since shared it with others.

These are five easy ways to begin. If you apply these tips, you too, will feel confident to start exploring the wine aisle.  I still pretty much know next to nothing about wine, but I have broadened my horizons, learned some new things and met some new drinkable friends besides old Two Buck Chuck. Tipsy has afforded me  opportunities to learn about wine in a fun and FREE atmosphere and I am trying to take full advantage. If you are new to wine, hopefully this helps you to get started. I will continue to share with you what I learn as I continue my wine journey.

Happy Drinking!

Below I list five wines that I’ve recently been introduced to. They are delicious, affordable and have low hangover status even if you drink the whole bottle!

To Read About Tipsy’s Top 5 Wines I’ve Tried RecentlyClick Here

 

 

 

 

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