We have obtained information in this section from a variety of resources and they include:
Kevin Zraly, Windows on the World, Complete Wine Course, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., NY, 2005.
Steve Dinnerstein, Partner of Piazza Dicepoli, retail wine stores in Cincinnati
Joanna Simon, Discovering Wine, Simon & Schuster, NY, 2003.
Mark Oldman, Oldman’s Guide to Outsmarting Wine, Penquin Books, 2004.
“Wine Attracts More Customers”, Miami Herald, Feb. 18, 2008
Whether you are learning about golf, hockey, music, or wine, it is part of the deal and often it doesn’t take too many new words before you sound as if you know what you are talking about. When you are learning about wine, you are learning new vocabulary and “educating your nose” (Oldman, p.7)
First, you are learning about the words or the descriptors that people use when they are talking about wine.
This is relatively easy and won’t take long and many of the words are listed in our Wine Tasting Glossary. Note that there are wine industry words and then there are words specifically used to identify characteristics of wine - these tend to be adjectives and nouns, often fruit(!), with which you are already familiar.
Then, you have to “educate your nose” in order to recognize and distinguish things that maybe you once took for granted. Mark Oldman describes in his book, Oldman’s Guide to Outsmarting Wine: “It’s like listening to music: if you are not trained to look for the twang and guttural growl of the bass guitar, you may never notice it. But if someone demonstrates what the bass sounds like by itself, that element becomes infinitely easier to identify when layered into the whole.” Tasting the complexities of flavor in wine is the same.
He notes that one has to “construct a sensory vocabulary” beginning by learning the words that describe different smells associated with wine. Additionally, some people are better able to discern more scents than others. This is a matter of experience but also a brain thing rather than a nose thing: your past experiences with smells and aromas, your ability to store that smell memory and then connect the memory with the smell when you encounter it is very much like learning a foreign language. Not everyone grew up eating freshly-picked black currants, gooseberries or kumquats. Not all of us have come across a lychee nut or carambola at their local grocery store. But where there is a will there is a way. You can usually track these things down in specialty stores and educate your nose.... or brain. Just make a list of aromas described in a review and head out to the store.
But the reason to go through this learning is so that you can identify and then describe what you like. It is about finding your favorite wines or similar ones and learning how to ask for them!