I read an interesting piece in the Globe this morning regarding wine experts, their reviews/advice and whether it is used or ignored by readers and consumers alike. The consensus was it was mostly the latter. And that got me to thinking about why…and what might constitute advice that could be used.
My experience, in providing advice and just talking about wine, is that most people are either intimidated or turned off by what I will call “wine talk” — fancy words, elaborate descriptions, etc. So that, fortunately or unfortunately, puts most wine reviewers behind the eight ball right away.
That’s why I provide comments and advice in a different way. And it seems to work.
First of all, I give people a recommendation I heard early on in my wine career — “The best wine is the wine you like the best.” For me, that really captures just about everything you need to know about giving wine advice.
Think about it for a second. Everybody can say what they like about something (wine or anything else). For wine, even the most basic comments — red/white, dry/sweet, fruity/herbal, price range…that’s all you really need to say.
Because from there, I can make some recommendations. Similar wines in the same price range, or few a few bucks more — if they are similar in style, the chances are a person will also like them.
Now, that’s not to say I don’t recommend people try something different from time to time. But do it on purpose, when you feel like trying something new. Not when you want to be able to depend on a wine. That’s when you should be able to find the style you like the best, hopefully with a bunch of different choices.
Personal examples, using myself as the consumer? How about fruit forward reds and vanilla/buttery whites. For me, that translates into New World (California, Australia, and some BC) Cabernets, as opposed to those from Bordeaux in France. And oaked Chardonnays, as opposed to those made in stainless steel. This isn’t a case of “good and bad”, but rather style…I know the style I like to drink and can recognize the descriptions that go along with that style.
So don’t get caught up in all the fancy terms and descriptions! All the “cocoa, pencil lead, green pepper, etc.” don’t really matter much. Your own individual taste does. Know what you like, find similar styled wines, and go from there. That’s the best way to enjoy wine on a regular basis.