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Ask Dr. Vinny

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What's the best way to learn about wine? I feel lost and I don’t know where to start.

—Matthew, Dubai

Dear Matthew,

I think it’s very common to feel overwhelmed when you’re first starting to learn about the world of wine, especially when you realize just how big that world really is! Don’t panic, there are many different tools out there to help you learn, including me. Ask me anything!

The best advice I got when I first started with wine was to make every sip count. Try as many wines as you can, and find a way to keep a record of them—put a few notes in a journal or take photos of the bottles, anything you can do to start linking the data points together and make connections about what you’re observing. You’ll find there are plenty of resources out there to research the specific wines, regions or grapes you are tasting, like a terrific website, magazine and app I can recommend ….

As far as picking out the different details between tasting-note descriptors like currants or blackberries, relax and they will come. It will help if you start sharpening your skills outside of wine—for example, tasting actual blackberries and currants to learn the differences between them. In the meantime, you can take a step back and instead of focusing on specific fruits, think of them in larger, broader terms—berries or stone fruits instead of blackberries, raspberries, huckleberries, blueberries or plums. You might even take a further step back—think in terms of red or black fruit flavors, or simply “green” notes instead of picking out specific herbs.

Good luck, have fun, and let me know if I can answer any more specific questions!

—Dr. Vinny

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