1. Wine is still a pretty confusing and intimidating topic for many people. Wine labels can be confusing and finding the styles you like and being able to explain it to a waiter/sommelier/retail assistant can be quite challenging.
Yes – wine can be a complex subject, yes – labelling can be confusing (even for us professional sometimes!). However there are some very simple and easy tips that I will be delighted to share with you along this journey that should make your wine experiences much more enjoyable.
I find it very important to encourage people to embrace their own personal taste. People should feel confident and comfortable about giving their opinion Taste is a personal matter and should not be judged. A big part of our likes and dislikes are pre-determined before birth and our personal taste will continue to evolve throughout our lives. You do not like red wine? – That’s perfectly fine! Then, your goal will be to discover the incredibly diverse range of white, sparkling and sweet wines that are out there for you. What I try to encourage people to do is occasionally leave behind the familiar bottle and try something new or different – you never know what you might find!
Does it get any more confusing than this? 🙂
2. Sommeliers/Wine waiters are often seen as the intimidating character trying to upsell you something outside of your style preferences and indeed, budget!
I had a funny episode a few months ago while looking to buy a new laptop. I went into a specialized shop, with a maximum budget in mind. I had little idea about what I wanted as I do not know a great deal about computers. The salesman was very helpful but started asking me questions to understand my needs better and none of it made any sense to me. He could have been speaking to me in a totally different language!
I told him: “I don’t understand a word you just said to me. :-)” I explained to him that I work in the wine industry and that I am used to dealing with people that don’t often know a lot about wine and are looking for advice. Happy to show some trust in the guy, I asked – What would you buy?
He looked at me, smiled, and recommended me a laptop that I am delighted with. I could have spent a bit less, I could have spent much more, but at the end of the day I believe I ended up with the perfect laptop for me.
All of this is to say that confidence and trust are two important things when ordering anything – including wine. Be confident in stating your budget and try to give the best description you can regarding your personal taste and then trust that the person in front of you is here to listen to you and to do their best when it comes to providing suggestions. Going regularly to your local wine shop can also have its advantages. People will start to recognize you, remember what you bought the previous time and after a few visits they will start to understand what your likes and dislikes are.
To be continued…