Do You Speak Wine?

Wine truly is a universal language, like music or art, it has the power to connect across linguistic, geographical and cultural barriers. And for those of us who travel a lot for business, it is a good way to bond with clients, share stories with colleagues and forge new friendships. And it tastes great!

Many people are still intimidated by the world of wine and that’s a shame. So to do our part to demystify this fun hobby we’ve put together a guide on how to pick the right bottle for the right occasion. There are literally encyclopedias on wine pairing, and dozens if not hundreds of rules on how to perfectly match your food and wine. But what really matters most is that you like the pairing, you enjoy the meal and that the food or wine doesn’t overpower one another. The old rule of red with meat, white with fish, still holds true but the newer rule, that there are no rules, is more accurate.

Traveling the globe you’ll realize that wine is produced from Chile to China and all points in between. There are old world classics from France or Italy and new world upstarts from South Africa or New Zealand.  All six inhabited continents produce great wine and all are also guilty of releasing some horrible plonk. But don’t let any of this intimidate you; picking the right wine is as simple as learning the characteristics of different varietals and understanding what you like and what you don’t like.

Paola Gloder Montefiori who manages the iconic Tuscan winery Poggio Antico has a smart philosophy when it comes to learning about wine, “Sample reds and whites and then decide what characteristics you like, fruity, earthy, bold, or light. These are easy to understand.” Her belief is that you don’t have to be an expert or know the technical terms because these four defining characteristics will help you to learn about your own palate.  From here simply start trying varietals and seeing which ones suit your taste.

To demystify this process even more, here is a handy Cheat Sheet.

Our recommendation is to sample wines by the glass and take notes. Understanding which varietals you like is a great start. From there you can expand your repertoire and start testing wines by region. And after you learn which regions you like, move on to producers and decide which winemaker’s tastes suit yours.

For instance if you like white wines and enjoy fruity and earthy characteristics you’ll probably like Sauvignon Blanc. Once you determine this try a French Pouilly Fumé (which is made with Sauvignon Blanc grapes) and then try a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region. You’ll taste two totally different wines; each made from the same grape but each exhibiting a totally different flavor profile. Once you determine which you like best you can then try various winemakers from the region and build an even clearer picture of your individual taste profile. It really is that easy… and that much fun.

Bookmark this page and the next time you’re in a restaurant or bar, pull it up and start experimenting with wine. We promise you, you’ll really love it.