I overheard a (very smart) girl in my class yesterday say that wine is, “just vocabulary, like anything else.” I thought this was so interesting, and I thought she was right. A novice could describe wine as being fruity or tannic, but a wine expert described those very same things more elegantly and more specifically.
Developing a palate for wine is a very hard thing to do. It takes a lot of well…wine drinking. Not very many people have the opportunity to to taste 10 wines in two hours like I do in class. The only way I feel that I have been able to develop any palate at all was through these experiences. You have to taste wine. You have to taste wines against each other. You can start small. Buy two bottles of the same grape from two different wine regions. This will help you realize that the “same wine” can taste completely different. You can also get the same grape, from the same winery, but with different vintages. (Vintage is a fancy word for the the year the grape was harvested.) Young wine tastes very different than wine that has a little age on it. These exercises are a great way to start to appreciate the taste of wine rather than just, “liking it, or not.”
Another very important thing you can do is print off an Aroma Wheel for free on the internet. It looks like a color wheel but has the most common aromas found in wine broken into easy to find categories. Even looking at those descriptions can help you determine what you are smelling and tasting.