jamie goode's wine blog: The best way to learn about wine

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The best way to learn about wine

I was thinking today about the best way to learn about wine. I'd travelled down to Devon to see my son (he's boarding at school) and attend a meeting. After the formalities were over we went together to a coffee shop for some hot chocolate, an then popped in to a record shop on the high street.

Now this place is about as far away as you can get from HMV. It is run by someone who's clearly a music enthusiast, and as well as carrying the latest chart items it has a display section of mid-priced classics. I've bought a few things here before, so this time I asked for advice. The shop owner was really helpful, and I came out with Joni Mitchell's Blue. I'm embarassed I don't already know her stuff, but this is a really brilliant album.

There's so much music out there, how do you choose what to listen to? Which new avenues should you explore? What are the 'benchmarks'? It's a similar problem faced by the newbie wine drinker. While modern retail offers amazing selections at amazingly keen prices, it's difficult to know where to start.

A shop, properly run by an enthusiast whose main drive is passion for the product, has to be the best place. If you have a local wine merchant with a good range and staff who care, then that's surely the best way to learn about wine. Of course, I think you should be making good use of critics and writers - and websites like this - but then there's the issue of finding the wines that are being talked about.

If you have a good merchant, use them, and be prepared to pay slightly more for the wine than the cheapest price on wine-searcher. You are getting, in the price of the bottle, the benefit of a relationship that could be your best means of discovering new wines, tailored to your palate and interests. That's got to be worth something.

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At 5:09 AM, Blogger Colman Stephenson said...

Very true.

I learnt a ton from Stuart and co atCity Beverage on Old Street near Hoxton Square, London.


Perfectly informal interesting Fridy night tastings provided the perfect, unscary opportunity to taste and learn.

Makes me wish I didn't move to San Francisco

(Disclaimer: no commercial relationship. This is an honest recommendation).

At 11:32 AM, Blogger Dan McGrew said...

One of her two best albums. I really like 'I Wish I Had a River."

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Tim Carlisle said...

There's a cafe in North Oxford that is really a wine bar that often have decent wine and people behind the bar who can tell you a bit about the wines too.

If you pay a few quid they'll do a personal tasting of about 10 wines - I learned a bit there although I'm always a little concerned by one bloke who works there who makes funny claims that are well away from the truth.

At 2:57 PM, Blogger EvWg said...

very cool.

I absolutely agree!

I have had a wine blog for going on five years now and this year was the first time I really had passionate ideas for wine in 2009.

The main one was developing a relationship with a wine merchant to learn more about wine.

The post is called: A WINE BLOGGER'S IDES FOR WINE IN '09



At 4:53 PM, Blogger Chris Townend said...

Couldn't agree more Jamie. In my opinion what you need to if you want to learn about win is:
(1) an interest in taste
(2) to enjoy a drink
(3) a like-minded group of friends
(4) curiosity

It is this last point which, I think, captures the key theme of your post- just talk to people! Ask questions and be interested in what what they are doing. Anyone who has the commitment and passion for running a vintners must want to talk about wine. It is after all their raison d'etre and what gets them out of bed on a morning.

At 8:38 PM, Blogger Stevo said...

Ah, music and wine, my two great passions. As a failed rock guitarist and born-again wine enthusiast I couldn't agree more!

If anyone is interested, my (rather amateurish compared to Jamie's)wine blog is www.fineforwine.blogspot.com

At 11:40 PM, Anonymous Leon Stolarski said...

Music and wine.... mee too! (Along with golf, football and other sports).

Blue is a classic album and one of Joni's very finest. Although her best (i.e. most creative) days are certainly long gone, her 2000 release "Both Sides Now" is a cracker, with a line-up of old "standards" and a couple of re-workings of her own songs (including "A Case Of You" from the aforementioned "Blue"). Intricate arrangements, lush orchestration, fantastic choice of songs and a voice deepened to a gravelly baritone by a million cigarettes make for a joyous listen.

At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Alast said...

I have found several chain shops like Majestic, Wine Rack and even Nicolas have quite knowledgable managers.

At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Alast said...

I have found several chain shops like Majestic, Wine Rack and even Nicolas have quite knowledgable managers.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger king bing said...

Blue is a great album - her best for me. I once saw a review that said it was like Joni was singing to the listener only, such was the intimacy.

But, have you ever heard Nazareth's cover of This Flight Tonight?! It's different.


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