Wine 101 Me
March 24, 2015 1:17 PM   Subscribe

Wine-loving mefites: please give me your best wine resources, texts, online communities, podcasts, apps... and anything else you think would help a reasonably food-savvy mefite looking to move beyond "well, I remember I liked this one... I think?"

Not much more to add - I really enjoy wine, but have never really bothered to retain much knowledge about it. I'd like to knuckle down and start to learn - so please point me at stuff to study and places to learn and discuss?
posted by ominous_paws to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I enjoy the forum on Wine Berserkers but it can be a little intense. Cellartracker is indispensable not only for tracking what I own and have had, but for looking up reviews of stuff I'm considering.
posted by primethyme at 1:19 PM on March 24, 2015

I really like Delectable for tracking bottles - the automagic label recognition works great.
posted by casaubon at 1:44 PM on March 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not to repeat what has been said, but I have used CellarTracker and Delectable for looking up other people's reviews of wine and tracking my own bottles.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:56 PM on March 24, 2015

The absolute best wine resource is the person at your local liquor store. Build a relationship- ask for recommendations, and tell them what you thought when you go back. I love being able to go into my local shop, tell my guy what we're having for dinner, and let him pull out a couple choices for me.
posted by mkultra at 1:59 PM on March 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I use an app called Vivino to track what we've bought and drank. The big draw for me was the ease of data entry - just take a photo of the label and it will automatically recognize all the details of the bottle. If the automated system can't figure it out, then it gets sent to a real live human who will decipher it for you. You can rate the wine, add tasting notes, and mark down where you bought it and how much it cost. There's some social networking-y stuff in it, too, but I don't use it.

The basic functionality above is free; if you want to spend money on it (I haven't), it will add some inventory tracking functions for your collection and also prioritize your queries in the human-deciphering queue.

I have found this most useful for going wine shopping, since once I get to the store I tend to blank out on what we've purchased in the past. The app lets me figure out what I've bought at that store and makes it easy to match labels.
posted by backseatpilot at 2:11 PM on March 24, 2015

If you want a good, simple introductory book, you could do worse than Wine for Dummies. It packs in a lot of information in a non-intimidating format. Beyond that, my advice is:
- find a good wine shop - one with a good selection and helpful staff. A sign of a good shop is that the staff will have tasted most or all of the wines on offer.
- as much as possible, describe what you like and dislike by reference to wines you've drunk before
- when you try the wines they sell you, make note of what you thought of it
- each time you return to the shop, you'll have more common reference points to help you describe what you like & don't like, and the staff, having tasted the wines they sold you, will be able to get a good idea of what else you might want to try
- If it's the right shop, they'll positively enjoy spending time talking with you and making recommendations.

Eventually, it will all make enough sense to you that the scores and the reviews will be helpful, but I wouldn't start there.
posted by mr vino at 2:49 PM on March 24, 2015

Vivino is a nice tracking app that figures out which wine you have using the camera.
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:04 PM on March 24, 2015

Wine for Normal People podcast?
posted by mon-ma-tron at 8:39 PM on March 24, 2015

The most productive thing I did when I was getting seriously into wine (an indulgence I can no longer afford, alas) was to take tasting courses (this was at the International Wine Center in Manhattan, but there must be similar places in London); I still have my tasting notes, e.g., from the "Wines of Burgundy" evening: '86 Givry (Clos Salomon): clear red, not too thin—light Pinot nose (vanilla)—taste a bit harsh (young), sweetish, spicy. Tasting a flight of similar wines with a bunch of other learners under the guidance of an expert is pretty much the ideal way to improve your understanding (much like taking a writing workshop).
posted by languagehat at 6:59 AM on March 25, 2015

I found all of the wine apps (that I tried at least) to be annoying. I decided to switch to Evernote, as it's easy to get my data out if I want to switch to something else, and I can create my own categorization.

The best wine related thing that I found recently is Naked Wines. They work directly with small vineyards to get them wider distribution. They're a little cheesy with some of the marketing, but in 5 cases so far, we've only had one bad bottle. And their refund policy is 100%. If you don't like it, they refund it.

They're Netflix-like in that you sign up for a membership and are charged monthly. They have great educational materials that I think you can access without being a member, but I think you might have to be a member to read their forums.

Memail me if you have any questions. I'm just a happy customer.

In terms of advice about wine, drink what you like. Try lots of different things. Don't spend a lot of money in wine. There's tons of great wine out there for under $20.
posted by reddot at 5:10 PM on March 29, 2015

Just read Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Wine Course, it's approachable and teaches everything you need to know to make sense of a wine list or wine store and start exploring your tastes.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:11 PM on April 9, 2015

I work in the industry, and found the free Wine Folly newsletter and forum really helpful and interesting. They have a simple, and clear approach to wine which I really appreciate.
posted by travellingincognito at 8:12 AM on May 3, 2015

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