Wine and Walnuts

A blog about eating, drinking, cooking and reading in the not so Deep South

Cheap and Easy Ways to Learn More About Wine, Part One

wine imageSomeone recently asked me “how I learned so much about wine,” and I got to thinking about the resources I’ve used to teach myself about subject, and some of the best sources of information out there for newcomers to the topic, etc. 

In my case, I’m lucky I’ve picked up a lot of from working in restaurants and in a wine retail environment for 10+ years; even so, I knew there was so much more I wanted to know.  And since there is so much more TO know, I started searching out ways to increase my knowledge, both online and otherwise.

So I wanted to share some of my favorite, cheap and easy ways to learn more about this most fascinating topic with.

First, the super-easy, online resources in today’s post (#’s 1-5), then later in the week, the more labor-intensive, but way better, ways. . .

SNOOTH

Snooth is a social networking website and wine database. They bill themselves as “the world’s largest and most comprehensive wine site, featuring millions of reviews and hundreds of thousands of wines.” 

On Snooth you can:

Search for wine by price, type, or food pairing,
• Participate in forums — there are forums for beginner wine drinkers, wine and travel, wine and food, etc.
• Read Reviews — from users and experts, plus add your own
Shop — compare prices, narrow search by zip code
And lots more, check out Snooth’s features, here.

WINE SPECTATOR VIDEOS

Great, short videos on such topics as finding value wines, interviews with wine makers, wines of particular regions, wine and food pairing, and so on.  I just watched a very entertaining video of Judith Jones (Julia Child’s editor for many, many years) talking about working with Julia and sharing some funny anecdotes. The videos are less than five minutes long, and you can learn stuff and be entertained at the same time!  On the wine spectator website, click the “Video” link, or go here.

WINE SPECTATOR’S SIPS & TIPS E-NEWSLETTER

This newsletter comes about once a week, and is short, informative and easy to digest.  It contains a wine of the week, which is value-priced, with rating, tasting note, and price point; a food match, with recipe, then some other thing-y, like an informative video, dining info, or some wine-related travel tips, etc. For example this week’s newsletter, which I just received, features an 86-point rated, $9 Chardonnay, a recipe for Roast Pork Tenderloin to go with, and a video on cork versus screwcap enclosures. You can subscribe here.

WINE LIBRARY TV

And for something totally different . . . here we are, Gary Vaynerchuk’s daily wine video blog, an extremely content-rich site with literally hundreds of videos, in several hundred categories.  That’s right. This site is DEEP with content; I could spend hours here. Gary V’s not for everybody, but he is the most passionate wine guy I’ve ever seen, and that’s pretty damn charming.  I am hooked. He’s the perfect combination — entertaining and informative, and you gotta be a huge admirer of anyone with this much passion for their topic.  You almost can’t look away, and in the process, you’ll learn much about wine from a guy in love with his subject.

Plus, I couldn’t agree more with his philosophy — don’t feel pressured to buy what experts recommend; buy what you like.  Trust your palate; if a wine appeals to you, then it’s a good choice. It’s that simple.  Check out Gary V. here.

THE 30 SECOND WINE ADVISOR

This is one of my favorite sources of information about wine to be found online.  It’s a free weekly e-newsletter where you will find wine reviews, tasting reports with recipe matches, scores of concise educational info about wine and wine appreciation, and so much more.  It does just what it says — advise about a particular wine topic in about 30 seconds. Read just one newsletter, and you will come away with a real understanding of that week’s subject matter. Recent newsletter topics have included:

• Study wine: Maps and history!
• Red and green: Sangiovese and pesto
• Wine Focus – Offbeat whites
• Wine Focus – Cool summer reds
• Mixing it up with Meritage
• 90 points? What’s the point?

The guy who writes the newsletter is Robin Garr, a wine writer and journalist who has been writing about wine for over 25 years, and is just super-knowledgeable. The writing is straightforward and he makes wine accessible to all readers, from beginner to expert alike.  His tag line is “Straight talk in plain English about fine wine.”  Sign up for the newsletter here.

I save all mine and often go back and read them for further education and instruction.  If you want to build your wine knowledge, this is a great place to start. He has a great website as well, WineLoversPage.com

WINE FOR NEWBIES website

So, here you will find podcast audio lessons about wine.  William Wilson is the guy who creates them  — he bills himself as “a serious student of wine for over ten years.”  To be honest, I don’t use this resource that much anymore, but that’s because my mind tends to wander when I have to listen to audio online.  I’d much prefer to watch video, and I feel like I learn a lot better that way, which is why I love Gary Vaynerchuk’s video blog, and the Wine Spectator videos.  But the Wine for Newbies site has lots of great content, especially for beginners, so it’s worth a listen.  Go here to check it out. 

Sample lessons:

An Introduction to Riesling
An Introduction to Sauvignon Blanc
An Introduction to Chardonnay
An Introduction to Pinot Noir
An Introduction to Merlot
An Introduction to Cabernet Sauvignon

You get the picture.  There’s also stuff like, The Wines of Italy, Producers You Can Count On For Quality, Uncommon White Wines, The Wines of Spain, Dessert Wine, and so on and so on, and, really, so on.

So that’s it for the easy online ways to become educated (this is just the very teensiest tip of the iceberg, there are hundreds of other online resources, these are just ones I use and enjoy); later in the week I’ll talk about the more labor-intensive, but way better — and more fun(!) — ways.

Cheers!

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About The Author

Kimberly Houston

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