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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

When purchasing wine don't buy what you like. Huh?

I've said many times to "just buy what you like" rather than what's expensive, has a prestigious Napa label, or gets 93 points. Well, I kinda lied.

There are trillions (or so it seems) of wines out there. If you only stay in the small box of what you are currently comfortable with how are you ever going to expand your knowledge? With expanded knowledge of wine comes the appreciation for different kinds of wine, different wine regions, and different styles.

So you've had one German Riesling or one California Pinot Noir and decided you don't like them. Or you've only had box wine or a couple cheap Australian bottles. You've found one Italian Chianti you like and you're sticking with it. You only like buttery Chardonnay, etc. You'll want more than one taste of anything from anywhere to get an idea of what they offer.

How can you expand your knowledge? Join a local wine tasting group or go to tastings at local wine shops. This is pretty straight-forward and often recommended as a way to try new things. It's like test driving cars--there's no big investment in case you don't like it.

You can also take a trip to a wine region. If you have wineries nearby you've already tried go out of state (or out of the country). You can probably find wine-themed trips, such as a cruise. Okay, this can be fairly expensive, but a good way to immerse yourself in wine.

Move a little ways from your comfort zone--step-by-step. Some examples:
  • If you only like California Chardonnay try one from Australia. Try a different, but similar, type of grape such as Pinot Blanc or Viognier.
  • If you're stuck on Merlot because Cabernet is too tannic (or too something) look for Bordeaux or Meritage-type blends. These are usually Cabernet, Merlot and other similar grapes blended together. Of course, Malbec is the new Merlot.
  • If you're never paid more than $10 a bottle for wine where do you venture next? Stick with varietals you already like and try a few $20 ones from different areas. See what the difference is between the ten and twenty dollar wines.
  • If you are an Old World fan and have decided you don't like, or haven't really tried, California wines then you probably want to start with similar styles. Just realize they won't be the same because California isn't France or Italy.
So figure out what your current comfort zone is and try to slowly move away from it. Remember, you may not like something new at first. It takes awhile to adjust to any new flavors whether it's the first time you had green vegetables as a kid or the first time you sampled scotch (hopefully as an adult).