Are you passionate about wine but are not a professional sommelier? Do you love to buy bottles but feel lost in front of the shelves? The simplest solution would be to give you my mobile number so I can become your consultant, but since that’s not really an option, let me walk you through the process of how to choose the right wine for you. There is a method for every personality. All you have to do is learn how to orient yourself in this wonderful world (which, honestly, isn’t always easy!)
How to choose wine: tastings and sommelier courses
Choosing wine is not an easy task, as the world of wine is huge and knowing how to read the labels or understand every wine producing region in Italy and the world is not for everyone. If you are curious, you could sign up for a tasting dinner, which are extremely on trend. But people often ask me: what about a sommelier course? It may be your first choice, but if becoming a professional sommelier is not your goal or you don’t have a lot of time, then you may struggle to complete it. Most courses have three levels and there is a lot to study! Tasting dinners, on the other hand, teach you in small steps, as do tasting events at wine shops. Look for events scheduled in your city and consider giving one a go.
How to choose wine: visit the winemaker
Another easy and effective way to learn more is to buy directly from the winemaker. If you’re out and about on the weekend or on a driving holiday, research local winemakers and drop in for a visit. Many will provide you with a taste of their wine. In Italy, many vineyards have spaces dedicated to direct-to-public sales and tastings, often arranging to send the wine to your home address if you don’t feel like carrying it – what could be easier than that?
How to choose wine? In the wine shop or at the supermarket
If you’re not the type of person who shops in dedicated stores – the market for vegetables, the butcher for meat, the baker for bread, the wine shop for wine – but prefer the supermarket as a one-stop-shop, then being alone in front of a wall of wines can be overwhelming (increasingly, some chains will have an expert on hand to help on weekends and holidays). How do you decide? The price is usually the determining factor, but it’s not enough, because it cannot determine your taste. You have to be curious and try something new, even if only to understand what you like in this wide world.
Buying a bottle that you’ve never tried is like buying blind. After all, this isn’t like a pair of jeans that you can try on and see whether you like them before you decide to buy them. In this case, you pay first and taste later. This has always appealed to me. It’s like when you used to buy a vinyl before the advent of Spotify and YouTube. You didn’t know whether it would become the album of your life…or not… until after you had listened.
That said, there are many apps to help you – Vivino is number one amongst them with over 30 million users, providing a huge platform to move about this world. You can consult, buy, share your impressions and add photos (some call it the TripAdvisor of wine!). With other apps, like Tannico, you can shop comfortably from your sofa at home.
How to choose wine: at a restaurant
And at a restaurant? I always hope there is someone who can not only recommend a wine, as well as something interesting from the beer list. Most good restaurants will have a sommelier to guide you. If this is not the case, then often the choice is also made with an eye on the right hand column of the wine list, i.e., the price. Since we all have our smartphones on hand, ask Google what it recommends with the dishes you have just ordered! The web is full of articles, including my own, and perhaps through surfing, you’ll discover a surprisingly pleasant wine that you would never have thought to order.
How to choose wine: internet and social networks
And on social media? Instagram is the best platform to discover the world of wine by directly searching for the company you are interested in or following the reference hashtags. Try following and using the hashtag #vinopop, which brings together a spontaneous community of, above all, Italian wine fans. It’s so useful and full of references. Also consider following the influencers of the wine world who, like me and many others, photograph their experiences and share their feelings daily.
Now that we’ve reached the end of the article, have you decided what is the best path for you? I am someone who prefers to live the experience and let myself get caught up in the pleasure of discovery. This is why I often visit winemakers and their shops. If you are touring Tuscany any time soon, I recommend a visit to the Dievole wine shop in Castelnuovo Berardenga, where you can taste and buy their wines.