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The Best Wine Advice and My Ah-ha Moment

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Rows of grape vines with sun shining through clouds.

The best wine advice I’ve ever received was in a wine course for beginners taught by Master of Wine Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan. First of all, to become a Master of Wine is not easy. Only 450 have passed the exam since it was first held 66 years ago. That means an average of 7 a year from around the world become Masters of Wine.

Identify Wine Without Looking At The Bottle

In the course, she talks about a variety of wines from all over the world. She shares a lot of information, but the way she describes the different characteristics of each wine started to click with me. The idea that each type of wine has typical characteristics means you can essentially identify the wine (or get pretty close) without even looking at the bottle.

It was an ah-ha moment for me! I thought this is how you lay the foundation for wine knowledge. There are rules and reasons for why each wine looks and tastes as it does. Now I can apply that understanding to choose wine and to pair wine. This wine advice really started pulling it all together for me.

I suppose it’s just like anything else in life. Once you understand the rules and the structure for things like sports, math, music, interior design, and, well, you name it…then it all starts coming together and you can start putting your understanding into practice.

The Master of Wine Exam

To become a Master of Wine, they must identify 36 different wines blind which means they won’t see the bottle. They’ll taste a variety of reds, whites, rosés, sparkling, and fortified wines and then identify the grape varietal, regions they are from, wine-making techniques, etc., etc. All they have to rely on is the look of the wine, the aromas, and the taste.

The Look, Aroma, & Taste Provide Clues

The way she taught the course was based on this approach of identifying typical characteristics through the color of the wine, smelling the aromas, and tasting. It was really fascinating because a certain characteristic like a golden straw color rules out white wines that don’t have that characteristic. The wine advice she gave was to use this deductive tasting approach that is used by the professionals. She explains that each characteristic provides clues that guide you to what the wine is and rules out what the wine isn’t.

Because tasting and experiencing wine for yourself is so important to understanding wine, each lesson is centered around tasting. She describes the wine characteristics and you experience it right along with her. We retain so much more information when we are fully immersed in learning. Not just listening or writing, but physically experiencing.

The Importance of this Ah-ha Moment

My experience with this course along with knowing that so many consumers are overwhelmed with wine are the reasons I started this wine education website. If we just simplify to the big 7 Noble Grapes and understand their typical wine characteristics, then we can learn the basic ground rules for wine. It will open up the wine world so we don’t feel overwhelmed.

If you are interested in the course taught by Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, MW, it’s called The Everyday Guide To Wine. You can find it through The Great Courses website. A lot of times they put big discounts on their courses. You may need to subscribe to get those discounts.


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