We are from the Chicago area and we are spoiled when it comes to wine. There are wine tastings available almost every day of the week and on the weekends there can be 40 or more to choose from. All kinds of tastings! Usually there is some sort of theme, “Wines of South America” or maybe “Summer BBQ Wines”, sometimes for free, sometimes for a nominal charge. We started going to wine tastings because it was just a fun way to spend an afternoon, sample some wine, meet up with friends and learn a little about the wines along the way. After all these years we have tasted thousands of wines, and after having drank 427 Syrahs, 865 Red Blends and 311 Chardonnays, we know what we like and why we like it. And there is no getting to this point without drinking wine, you can read every wine book and magazine you can find, but there is no substitute for sampling the widest variety of wines possible.
There is a difference between drinking wine and tasting wine, and that difference is basically paying attention to what’s in the glass. It’s not complicated, but a Pinot Noir from Chile tastes different than a Pinot Noir from Oregon because the growing conditions are different. Same grape, but different taste and style. After awhile and you have sampled 8 Chilean Pinots and 14 Oregon Pinots you will be able to tell the difference without really thinking about it, your palate becomes educated.
A great way to improve your palate is to host a Blind Wine Tasting Party. Nothing improves your concentration like trying to ascertain the varietal and growing region of the wine in your glass while doing it in front of audience who are waiting to see what you do or don’t know. Peer pressure will make you step your game up.
And remember – wine is good for you as there are all sorts of reports about wine keeping your arteries unclogged. And I recently read a report about wine helping to prevent Alzheimer’s!
So, check your local wine shops for their tasting schedules, call up your neighbors and tell them to come over – but you know they gots ta bring a bottle!