Four ways to challenge your wine habits

Whether you are a novice who has just caught the wine bug, or an old hand trying to get out of a rut, these can keep your wine tasting enjoyable and rewarding.

Pay attention to the wines you drink
All too often, I hear people express enthusiasm about a nice wine they enjoyed recently, but when I ask its name, they give me a blank stare. 

Maybe the label was blue or had a rooster on it, but such vague details don’t narrow it down much. 

If you can’t remember the wine you liked, you may not be able to find it again.

So take notes. You don’t need to keep a stack of Moleskines with old scribblings you rarely, if ever, look at. 

As you pay attention to what you drink, notice differences among wines that seem similar. 

Cultivate a wine retailer (or two) 

A personal connection with a retailer could be the most important relationship in your wine exploration. 

Your best bet is an independent retailer, someone who knows every wine in the store. 

Sales clerks at supermarkets or big-box wine stores may not be familiar with every bottle, but you’ll be able to gauge their enthusiasm and knowledge with a short conversation. 

Tell them what you like and don’t like. 

Try a wine they recommend, then on your next visit to the store, explain why you liked or disliked it. 

This will lead to more recommendations. If your retailer recommends several wines you don’t like, find someone else.

A good strategy would be to become a regular at a store that carries a wide selection of wines from around the world. 

Many stores use purchasing software that helps us with our memory problem. 

If you forget the name of the red you enjoyed last week, your retailer may be able to look up your recent purchases and suggest similar wines to try.

Try something new 

Expand your comfort zone. 

If white wine means chardonnay to you, try some riesling or gruner veltliner. 

If you subscribe to a favourite winery’s club, you’ll receive regular shipments of new-release wines, often special bottlings that are not available in retail. 

Or start your own club. 

When I first fell in love with wine, my favourite explorations were with a group of friends who met once a month to share wines of a specific theme. 

(Bordeaux one month, Oregon pinot noir another.) It’s a fun way to learn about various wines, and how to evaluate and describe them. 

The discussion can get hilarious toward the end of the evening.

Visit a winery you’ve never been to

This one obviously takes some time and effort. 

Visiting wineries, whether on travel or a weekend excursion to your closest "wine country," can be a great way to learn about how and where wine is made.

You may also discover a new favourite grape variety. 

The bottle you bring home will be a great conversation starter with friends as well as a memory of your trip.

Washington Post 
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