As a self-proclaimed 'big drinker' it is difficult for me to continue to ignore wine. I am stumbling into unfamiliar terrior-tory (see what I did there? I can't be so bad if I'm already making wine jokes!), one giant glassful at a time. This series will explore the steps I take each month to become a casual connoisseur.
First, where do I go to learn about wine?
There are so many people and publications aimed at those who already know how and what to drink. When they take us, the casual drinker, on as a reader, they either want to make us wine pros or kick us out of the wineries all together. Despite this, I've found some great resources I can learn from. I’ve come to trust publications that treat wine as casually as I do—they recognize the importance, but don’t worship at its’ altar. Most importantly, they never talk down to you or tell you what and how you must drink to be taken seriously. Here are the few resources I use to get to know the world of wine.
AMERICA'S TEST KITCHEN (PODCAST)
It was this podcast that originally piqued my interest in wines. If you are unfamiliar, the show follows host Christopher Kimball as he answers listener’s cooking questions, interviews guests about their restaurant, book or food philosophies, tastes and discusses wine, and presents a recipe challenge from ATK's test chefs. The wine segment is usually short, about 4-5 minutes, and it is always interesting. The wine expert will bring out say, 4 burgundies to taste test, all while describing what makes a burgundy, the history of burgundies, what you should look for when purchasing a burgundy. My favorite segment was when he recommended selecting a “house wine” for your seasonal home entertaining, and how to do so. ATK is where I first learned about biodynamic wines, and I have been incredibly interested since. While wine is not the central focus of the show, it is always presented with a unique and accessible point of view.
I read Lifehacker multiple times a day. It is my absolute favorite of the Gawker Media sites, mostly due to the smart staff and tranquility of the comments section. Lifehacker aggregates and creates articles and videos devoted to productivity and living more efficiently. Their scope is broad, with a keen interest in tech, finances and organization. Occasionally they touch on lifestyle topics like parenting, health and most recently, wine. Learning about wine on Lifehacker has been a happy accident, as it started to become interspersed in their content. There is, of course, the Lifehacker spin on wine. How to build a wine rack, how to open a bottle with a knife are some recent articles. My favorite wine posts as of late: “why your taste in wine changes based on expectations or environment" and Demystifying wine jargon. Again, I am drawn to the unique and casual perspective of wine as it relates to the rest of life.
I stumbled upon this blog while doing market research for our upcoming app. The author, Mike Veseth, is a professor of economics in Washington state. The first post I read was a summation of students’ academic papers about wine apps for his wine economics class. Browsing the rest of his blog, I found a wealth of information about wine economics, both local (to him) and global. He recently published a series about the emergence of Walla Walla, Washington as a region of great wine. Earlier in the year he wrote a lot of South American wine, like Brazil in relation to the World Cup. He has two books about wine that I have not yet read but I am looking forward to: Extreme Wines and Wine Wars. In comparison to my other learning sources, his approach to wine is far less casual, but no less interesting and important, and unique to how others are writing about wine.
I confess that I do not follow much on Pinterest. It is a collection of friends and family, disney and a couple favorite food blogs for recipe inspiration. So I’m not sure how grapefriend found it’s way to my homepage, but I am so glad it did. It wasn't until I started writing this post that I had ever visited grapefriend.com (it’s great by the way). Every time I checked Pinterest, I had these quick, accessible little wine recommendations in my feed. There was no link to lengthy descriptions of why I should like it, just a pretty picture of a pretty wine and little bit about it. Sometimes there are food and pairing recommendations.
REVERSE WINE SNOB (PINTEREST)
Pinterest has been a great medium for my wine education. Reverse Wine Snob is a little more to the point, with wine reviews of great wines under $20. This is an easy message to get behind when entering the world of wine. These reviews pop up in my home feed and I make note of the ones that sound tasty. This is also a helpful resource for gifts, hostess or otherwise!
What resources do you use to learn about wine?
Nicole St. Germain is Creative Director of St. Germain Cellars, a craft beer snob, and a wine novice. Her cocktail of choice is anything with St-Germain liqueur.
(Image Credit: Joe Shlabotnik/cc 2.0/M)