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Wine appreciation for beginners

Wine appreciation for beginners starts with finding a wine you like. Confusion are lack of confidence are two of the main reasons for people not getting more enjoyment out of this wonderful drink. Many people stop there and keep buying the same wine and that’s fine, but after a while it will become bland. However, if like me, you are curious and want to take wine appreciation to the next level you can.  It takes a bit of practise to identify to main aromas, flavours and characteristics of a particular grape variety or blend. The more you train your senses the more fine tuned they will become.

To enjoy art you just have to look, to enjoy music you just have to listen, to enjoy wine you just have to drink it.  You don’t have to be an expert in art or music to know what you like, the same with good wine and when you connect with piece of art or music it is special, just a like a wine.   So start tasting with the objective of identifying what the wines character and quality.

Taste is individual and with practice you will find your preferred styles.  When tasting wine, like art and music, the more effort you make to learn how to taste and try new styles, the more pleasure you will get out of it. When I was younger I didn’t get classical music until a friend introduced me to Stravinsky’s ‘The Right of Spring’, and it is opened a new world to me.  Just like wine, I struggled to appreciate Riesling but from tasting wonderful wines from Germany, Alsace, Australia and New Zealand it has become one of my favourite grapes.

Wine appreciation for beginners is not only about identifying the positive qualities of a wine but also the faults.  There are many bad wines out there as a result of bad winemaking, problems with cork or where the wine has been stored.  An important part of wine appreciation is identifying these faults. Sniffing out a corked wine is an important step.  Remember, it’s your money so it is best to know when something is not as it should be.

Wines are being made in virtually every country in the world.  As a beginner in wine appreciation it is useful to learn to recognise the differences between wines from different countries opens up the world of wine appreciation. To begin with let’s keep it simple by thinking of the traditional “Old World” countries and two grapes varieties, such as France wth Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, Germany with Riesling Italy with Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio. Meanwhile in  “New World” we think of New Zealand with Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc,  Australia with Shiraz and Chardonnay, Chile with Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay as well as Argentina with Malbec and Torrentes.

Every week try something new, vary your selection and in a couple of months you palate will be finely tuned to appreciate fine wines. You have to begin somewhere so start sniffing and slurping…

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I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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