Taking On The Wine Tasting Challenge

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: Magnum Edition, The Master Guide.

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 wine knowledge. 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 34 Wine Tasting Challenge by Wine Folly

The premise is simple: taste 34 different wines with at least one wine 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 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!

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The Wines

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 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.


The Regions

Over 90 countries make wine, but just 12 of these countries produce over 80% of the available wines. 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!

List of wine countries to choose from:
Wine Folly Book and Bordeaux Blend Wine

  1. Argentina
  2. Australia
  3. Austria
  4. Chile
  5. France
  6. Germany
  7. Italy
  8. New Zealand
  9. Portugal
  10. South Africa
  11. Spain
  12. United States
  13. *Greece (bonus)

On Tasting

34 wines tasting challenge photo by Justin Hammack
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 the 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 wine style on page 28 of Wine Folly or look at this article.

Questions? Comments? Leave a comment below!

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About Madeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly