Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I have a hard time describing the type of wines I enjoy. Any suggestions?
—Becky, Brighton, Mich.
Welcome to the wine lovers club! Please be patient with yourself. It takes a while to get comfortable describing wine.
For starters, I recommend reading wine tasting notes as much as you can to get more familiar with the terminology other people use. I also think it's helpful to pay attention to not just wine, but everything that you taste and smell. It’s good to be curious about coffee, tea, essential oils, and to taste and smell new things.
One exercise that might help is to have two wines side by side—say, two wines from the same region or made from the same grape—and start noticing and trying to describe the differences between the two. Is there a difference in body, acidity, tannins or flavors? It’s also going to be helpful in your wine exploration if you can identify the grapes that make up your favorite wines. Are you a Chardonnay drinker or do you prefer Sauvignon Blanc?
Finally, when looking for new wines, I recommend going to a wine shop and developing a relationship with the staff there to ask for recommendations. Don’t worry about struggling with describing the wine—just tell them the name of a wine that you like, and ask to try others like it. In the process, you can ask them how they would describe the wine, and that will help you improve your own vocabulary for conveying that message in the future!