Learn about wine with a structured wine tasting that you can do on your own. The tasting is designed to be accompanied by the book: Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine.
We love to drink, sometimes maybe more than we’d like to admit. Fortunately, with a decent wine (or even fine cider) there’s an added opportunity to improve your knowledge of wine. All you need to achieve this is a little structured drinking.
While this wine challenge was created to pair with the book, you can certainly do it without the book with a little extra planning. Feel free to peruse the Wine Varieties and Regions tags to help you.
Taste 34 wines from 12 countries
The premise is simple: taste 34 different wines with at least one wine coming from each of the 12 top wine producing countries. This challenge should take you about 4–6 months to complete, and you can do it with your friends.
When you do a wine tasting such as this, you’ll really want to focus on what you’re doing and take some decent notes to reference later on. Of course, after you’re done observing the wines, you can drink them!
Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine includes 55 different wines (both varietal wines and wine blends) organized into 9 different sections by style. For your challenge, choose at least 2 wines within each of the 9 styles and, of course, you can fill up your list with extra selections from your favorite style (be it Full-Bodied Red wine or Aromatic White Wine) to explore more of it.
There are over 90 countries that make wine but just 12 of these countries produce over 80% of the wine available. Of the 34 wines you pick, distribute the selections between the 12 countries. You can quickly figure out which country to choose based on the variety page in the book. For example, if you picked Sangiovese, on the Sangiovese spread (pages 124–135) you’ll see that Italy produces the vast majority of this wine. So, why not pick a Sangiovese from Italy!
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United States
- *Greece (bonus)
Tasting Method: The 4-step tasting method will help you identify a wine’s flavors and tastes more accurately. You can read about this on pages 14–20 of Wine Folly, there are also some useful tips in this article.
Taking Accurate Notes: We’ve learned some methods for taking accurate and consistent tasting notes. Check out the summary in the book on page 21 of Wine Folly. We also have some info on tasting notes in this article.
Comparative Tasting: You’ll learn faster and more completely by comparing wines next to each other than tasting them in a vacuum. If it’s possible, try to conduct your tastings with 2–4 wines at once based on a theme (e.g. by region or by style). Perhaps you can initiate a bi-weekly tasting group. Here are some great wine flight ideas to get you started!
Glassware: If you don’t already have a set of wine glasses look at pages 24–25 of Wine Folly to determine what type of wine glass is right for you. You can also take a look at this article for a more basic summary. For this tasting, use the same glass regardless of the style of wine (sparkling or red). This is important to keep your perception of the wines consistent. It’s perfectly okay to drink white or sparkling wine out of a red wine glass!
Serving Temperature: A tasting portion of wine is usually a bit smaller than a glass at around 3 oz (80 ml) and wines are best served within their ideal temperature range. You can see the exact temperatures for each style of wine of page 28 of Wine Folly or look at this article.
Get the Guide
Don’t have the book yet? Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine is an infographic guide to wine that includes detailed information and tasting notes on 55 common wines as well as maps of the top wine producing regions. You’ll find it to be a valuable resource for both guiding and referencing wine.
Available in paperback and digital editions (not kindle)
Questions? Comments? Leave a comment below!