Monday, November 02, 2009
You're interested in wine, but you're not sure where to start. You ask a friend who is "into wine", you ask your neighbors, you ask a local wine store. If it's a good store, you'll find a salesperson who knows what he's talking about, but let's face it, unless you have their mobile number, you can't get answers at all times of the day or night. And frankly most store employees are not that educated about interesting wines. Most of them are there to move product, and that's about it.
So what to do?
Thanks to Al Gore (kidding), we have that lovely series of interconnected tubes, also known as the Interwebs. Better known for its massive quantities of porn, or so I'm told, the Internet is also the best place to learn about wine without opening a bottle. Of course, it's not as much fun, but pouring yourself a glass at 9am is usually a sign of a serious, more urgent issue.
Luckily, there are hundreds of websites that can help you learn about wine. The best ones allow you to interact with other winelovers, asking questions and getting answers at your convenience. You can start at the Wine Spectator's website, where you can take quizzes, read about news, and sign up for online classes. This is a very good starting source for people intimidated by wine and the mystique that surrounds it.
Snooth is a growing community of wine-lovers that is great for beginners as well. The interface is a little confusing, but sticking with it will offer you a world of learning opportunities. If you've started a small collection of 6 bottles or even have a huge, thousand bottle cellar, visit CellarTracker, where you can keep track of your inventory and write tasting notes, sharing them with other like-minded and like-palated people.
The wine critic Robert Parker's website is a good next stop, though it should be noted that this is a bit more technical. The Bulletin Board attached to the site is an excellent source of information, with thousands of winelovers interacting on a daily basis. It should be noted that the board is pretty loyal and defensive of Parker, so if you find your tastes differing from his be wary. That said, it's a great place to learn even more about wine.
Another good place to talk about wine is Wine Disorder. This bulletin board is fiercely loyal to the wines imported by Louis Dressner. If you like your bottles with tons of oak and fruit, this is not the place for you. If you love high-acid, esoteric, unique wines, this could be of interest to you.
Lastly, one of the best, most rough-and-tumble yet welcoming places to chat about wine would be the Wine Berserkers Bulletin Board. While it's not the most sophisticated, it is the most down-to-earth and warm site for both newcomers and experts, and boasts fora for winemakers and wine peddlers. This gives you a view of what happens "behind the scenes", and is a very good place to learn about all aspects of wine.
You can meet fellow winelovers in all these places, from newbies to winemakers, and can learn vast amounts about this beautiful thing we call wine. So visit a few of these sites and see which ones you like while enjoying a glass of your favorite bottle.