How To Study Wine? The Homework is a blast!

Are you a Wine Expert?

It’s not uncommon for someone to want to learn everything there is to learn about wine. No matter how you look at it, there is a lot to learn. I will assure you studying wine is one thing …its fun.  Where else can you study a subject and drink at the same time.  However, I don’t think people understand just how vast the subject is.

According to the Wine Institute there are 8806 wineries in the United States alone.  There are over 3700 wineries in California alone. Add into that the thousands of wineries through the rest of the world in France, Italy, Portugal, and Australia and so on; and you can see you could easily be talking about tens of thousands of wineries.  Let’s just stick with California wineries, if each winery produced just two types of wines, one red and one white, you would have to taste over 7400 bottles of wine.   I told you the homework would be fun!

So what’s the trick? There is no trick to it.  You need to learn to take things in stages, one part at a time. Anyone who says they are an expert in all things wine is just full of it.  It’s mathematically impossible to be an expert in everything wine.  You will find that many of the experts are experts in a very specific area of the industry, and then know a little bit about a great deal more.  There is nothing wrong with this, however just because your dentist is a doctor, it does not make him a brain surgeon.

So what do I recommend; when you first start tasting wines keep very detailed notes. Figure out what you enjoy, but start small. Perhaps study a winery and only one winery. From there find similar wineries perhaps near by the first winery.  Instead of a winery you can start with a varietal such as Pinot Noir. Try bottles from around the world from different appellations. You will be surprised just how different the same grape tastes in different areas, some not too far away from each other.  Not only can the region make a difference, but the winemaking styles that the winemaker is using. For instance there is a big contrast between a Chardonnay made in a steel tank and one that has been aged in French Oak Barrels for 6 months, going through malolactic fermentation.

Again take it in stages, and for more fun do it with friends.

Varietal of Interest:

220px-Cabernet-francAs many of you know Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of grapes.  However I have always felt a little sorry for its cousin Cabernet Franc.  So today let’s take a quick look at Cabernet Franc.  Coming out of the Bordeaux region of France, Cabernet Franc is now produced worldwide with over 47000 acres planted. Many wineries use it as a blending grape, adding it to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or a number of other grapes. On its own Cabernet Franc is being released by a growing number of wineries as its own varietal. The flavor is a little softer than Cabernet Sauvignon.  Depending on the region, it can have a slight peppery flavor, bell pepper and raspberry flavors.  Next time you’re out look for a bottle of Cabernet Franc.

Appellation of Interest:

Photo courtsey of Fiddletown Cellars

Photo courtsey of Fiddletown Cellars

One of my favorite areas to taste wine from is Fiddletown area which is located within Amador County.  This region is just over 2000 feet up the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California. Fiddletown produces some of the most full body Zinfandel’s you will ever taste.  These Zin’s are so intense you cannot see light going through them.  Wines from Fiddletown will be very hard to locate, even in California. However keep your eyes open.  Zinfandels from Amador County are amazing wines to experience.  If you can’t locate a wine from Fiddletown, try one from Amador County.


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If you have a negative comment or a suggestion, please email directly at  and perhaps it is something we can look at. You can also follow on Twitter @tastingradio. Additionally you can follow me on the Untappd beer app and Delectable wine app both for Iphone.


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