How important is wine to you? If you are someone who tends to drink it quite often, you might be curious to know as much about it as possible. Being passionate about wine is actually something you can turn into a career as a sommelier, and that is a career that a lot of people have been doing for many years, for as long as wine has existed in fact. But if you are unsure about where you can begin to learn more about wine, there are some things that you might want to bear in mind first and foremost.
In this post, we are going to take you through what you can do to become a true sommelier. If you have always wanted to be a wine expert, all of the following ideas are going to help you to get there a lot sooner. So let’s take a look and see what you might want to bear in mind.
Developing Your Palate
This is arguably the most important step of all, and it’s the one that you are always going to need to do, because it simply has no end to it at all. If you are keen to make sure that you are improving your wine tasting skills, then it’s all down to the palate, which is simply the word for your ability to taste and discern many different flavors. This is something that can take a long time to get to even a basic level for a wine expert, but nonetheless it’s vital to the process. Fortunately, it can also be a joy.
So what’s involved in developing your wine palate? First of all, you will street by drinking some very modest wines, as this is where every sommelier began before you. Over time, however, as your palate becomes more sophisticated, you will probably notice yourself automatically reaching for better and better wines, and being able to distinguish between them more finely, which are the main signs of a growing palate.
Then, with time, that will happen more and more in stages. It is a gradual process, but that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening – in fact, real transformation does take place.
Join A Wine Club
One of the best ways to develop your palate and to try out a number of different wines is simply to join a wine club. Here, you are going to have the opportunity to try out as many different wines as you like, and because it is a club you’ll also probably enjoy the social side of it too, which can actually be a very enjoyable and integral part of the wine-drinking experience. Chances are, there will be a few wine clubs in your area that you can consider, so you’ll need to try out a few and see which suits you and your tastes.
Once you have found a club that you enjoy being in, it’s all about just continuing that process, making sure that you attend meetings regularly and that you are soaking up as much as you can from the more experienced wine tasters around you. This is arguably the single best way to improve your skills and develop your palate, and it will also be a chance to start learning the language behind it, how wine experts talk and what they are really saying when they talk about wine.
Hopefully, your wine club will be a real joy and one of the main experiences on your social calendar, because that is what will actually keep you coming back to it again and again, and therefore help you develop your taste for wine all the more.
Attend Wine Tastings
You will do this at your club, of course, but it’s also a good idea to attend a wide number of wine tastings elsewhere as well. The more that you attend, the more practice you will have, and the sooner you will develop a sense of how to distinguish wines and really understand them. When you are looking for somewhere to try wine tastings, it’s a good idea to try out a number of professional places. You might want to go to the likes of Boise Winery, for instance, where you know you will be able to try a lot of amazing wines in a short space of time. That is going to help you a great deal here.
However you approach it, the important thing is that you are attending wine tastings as frequently as possible. If you do that, it’s going to make for a much better chance of developing your skills, so that is a really vital aspect to all of this. Plus, as with wine clubs in general, wine tastings can be great fun, and a good chance to spend some time amongst other wine experts who really know their stuff.
There are literally thousands of books out there dedicated to the art and science of understanding wine. If you really want to get serious about all of this, at some point you are going to find it hugely beneficial to sit down and read one or two of them. There are some known wine bibles that you should definitely pour over, and some which might not be worth your time. If you speak with the people you are starting to fraternize with in the wine world, you will soon start to know which books might be worth trying out.
The joy of these books is that they can teach you all of the major concepts that you need to know in order to talk about wine, as well as helping you when it actually comes to tasting wine yourself. So it’s definitely worth at least leafing through a few of these books when you get the chance. However, also remember that this can never replace the act of actually tasting wine and working out for yourself what separates the good wine from the less successful. This is how you actually become a true expert in wine.
Consider Sommelier School
If you literally do want to become a sommelier, then you are going to have to attend sommelier school – and yes, they exist. It is actually quite an intensive and full-on education learning to be a sommelier, and you’ll find that you have to put a lot of work and energy in if you are going to make a success of it. Even if you don’t want to do it as a job, going to sommelier school is one of the very best ways to improve your skills and understanding, and to really get to grips with what makes good wine good.
Take a look around your area to see if you can find any sommelier schools that are worth trying out. Or you might want to look online and discover some of the many online courses that you can take, or perhaps even travel to France and go to one of the world’s oldest sommelier schools instead. However you do it, you are definitely going to come out the other end with a rare ability to know when you are tasting great wine and why it is that way. This is something many people would love to be able to do.
Understanding Basic Concepts
There are a few basic concepts that are really important to understand from the outset. It is always going to serve you well to be aware of these, and to do all you can to actually get to the bottom of what they are and how they work. You can even learn quite a lot about these before joining a wine club or going to sommelier school; doing so will help you with getting ahead, and will mean that you are probably going to get a lot more out of those experiences as well.
For instance, there is the concept of the bouquet, which simply means how the wine smells when you sniff it in the glass. This is an important aspect to taste, so the better you can identify it, the more you are going to appreciate the flavors themselves too. You can also look out for things like whether you can sense the barrel the wine was aged in. If you get a whiff of oak, then you know that it was probably in an oak barrel, for instance, which is a very common one to identify.
Then there are the common flavors, such as berries, chocolate, and much else besides. While it is always up to interpretation, this is something that you can definitely learn too, and it’s all part of the process and joy of learning how to fully understand wine. So it’s a really good idea to make sure that you are aware of this from the start, so you know how to start looking for those in particular.
As you can see, there is a lot to think about, but with all these in mind you should be able to become a wine expert soon enough.