"But is becoming what society considers a connoisseur really the best way to learn to love and understand what's in the glass? What is connoisseurship anyway? And why is it that we assume the path to finding pleasure in wine begins with the accumulation of experience?"
"[Wine] can convey so much more than simply pleasure, but those added elements of history and culture, of complexity and conviviality, are most available when wine can be enjoyed with ease, in its fundamental role as a pleasurable, refreshing beverage and dining companion." Eric Asimov How To Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012)
To paraphrase Eric Asimov, it's best to first find pleasure in the wine itself, then, if you want, find pleasure in learning about it.
In a book I received recently for review purposes, Caitlin Stansbury and Heidi Shink's Wineocology (Guildford, CT: skirt!, 2012) the Simple Sommelier System is offered up as a way to educate yourself about which wines to drink. The System is, indeed, pretty simple, focusing on four facets of the wine-drinking experience: sight, smell, texture, taste. Within those four facets are further subsets that lead you deeper into what the wine is offering. For experienced drinkers, pondering these dimensions might be automatic, but it's a good guide to novice drinkers or those unsure. The book is fleshed out with more information, recipes, and miscellanea, presented in a light-hearted fashion. A nice addition to any wine library.
A more tech-intensive option is Marnie Old and Anthony Giglio's Wine Simplified (also received free for review) - a lot of information and assistance is packed into this. This mobile resource allows you to browse interactive photos on your iPad, or quickly pull up a cheat sheet while in the wine aisle on your iPhone. Videos featuring author Marnie Old explain everything from how to shop for wine to how it ferments, to the extent of pronunciation tips for foreign terms. I read it on a computer, so not as on-the-go friendly, but still appreciated all it offered.
Wine, its history, technology, and appreciation can all be fraught with pitfalls if taken too seriously. Eventually, you have to trust in your taste and just drink what you like. Until then, these three books are nice options to build your confidence in a user-friendly, unintimidating fashion.
(Disclaimer: Wineocology and Wine Simplified were provided to me free of charge, for review purposes. Information may have been taken from the business websites, but all opinions are my own.)
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