By Mandi Burman, Owner of Humble Wine Bar
Learning about wine can be an intimidating process, especially when you’re just starting out. The best advice I can offer is to never be afraid to ask questions. Finding the wine that will best suit your tastes can and should be a collaborative process between you and your bartender or server. If you’re ever unsure of a selection, you can also ask your bartender if the wine you’re considering is available as a small sample to taste.
When you’re thinking about what types of questions to ask, being able to describe the following characteristics about wine to your server or bartender will be a tremendous help in finding the wine that is right for you. Experimenting with wines of different styles and qualities will help you to discover your tastes and preferences in these four key areas.\
Do you like dry, off-dry (somewhat sweet), or sweet? Example dry- New Zealand Sauvignon blanc ~
Example sweet- Muscat based dessert wine
You will find acidity in the middle of your mouth, typically more with white wines than reds. Do you enjoy crisp wines with lots of acidity, or softer wines with less? Example high acidity- dry German Riesling ~
Example low acidity- California Viognier
Tannins are the element of wine that give you a dry mouth feeling, typically in the back of the mouth or palate but sometimes in the cheeks and gums. They are described as soft, firm, or bitterly dry. Do you prefer wines with soft (less noticeable), firm (clearly present), or bitterly dry (strong) tannins?
Example of high tannins- French Bordeaux ~ Example of low tannins- Oregon Pinot Noir
This is the weight of the wine you feel on your tongue. How heavy or light do you like a wine to feel in your mouth? Light-bodied is like skim milk, medium-bodied is like 2% milk, and full-bodied is like half and half.
Example of full-bodied – Cabernet Sauvignon or Oaked Chardonnay
Example light-bodied – Pinot Grigio or Pinot Noir
What makes learning about and drinking wine such a fun hobby is that there’s always more to taste and discover, since each style and vintage is so unique. Testing out different wines to learn what your preferences are on each of these qualities will be a great start to discovering what is right for you.
We invite you to visit our wine bar and start asking questions—you may be surprised by how much you can learn after just one visit! Humble Wine Bar strives to create a laid-back and approachable atmosphere where customers can learn about and enjoy diverse, high-quality wines paired with excellent food. At Humble Wine Bar, there’s something for everyone.