Want to level up your wine skills and become a wine connoisseur? In this article, we go through the skills you need to be your own sommelier.
Buy Like A Sommelier
Great wines are discovered because the current favorites are too expensive. Sommeliers need wines that are interesting, relevant, and well-priced.
To get wines like this, you must step far beyond the familiar. The great undiscovered wines come from unpopular or unknown wine regions in partnership with passionate local winemakers. Look at what the current generation of vignerons is doing in Beaujolais, France, and Kakheti, Georgia!
To do this, you’ll need a wine education and maybe even travel to wine country. Just like a sommelier.
Get A Wine Education
Traveling to wine country is like going to a museum. It’s an experience, but it’s not an education. Your mind has been expanded, but not in any substantial way.
As a rule, don’t expect an education from anyone looking to sell you something. Wine shops exist to sell you wine. Wine schools exist to educate you.
There are three avenues to learn about wine. Take an online wine course, take a sommelier course locally, or jump into a wine-tasting class.
Of the three, a sommelier course is the best option, followed by an online wine program are the best options. We recommend the National Wine School over the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Wine & Spirits Education Trust.
Then Wine Travel
After you’ve taken a wine course, now’s the perfect time to go on a wine vacation. You’ll appreciate your experience to the maximum.
We recommend traveling to France, Spain, or Italy as your first wine vacation. Drink the classics! Travel through the storied wine regions and delve into the local cultures. Having a wine education before traveling makes the adventure deeper and more exhilarating.
If you want to stay local, there are plenty of high-quality East Coast wineries to explore.
Build a Wine Cellar?
Most wine connoisseurs eventually want to age some wines. At the Wine School, we recently opened up two wines aged since 2006. Both were jaw-droppingly beautiful, and everyone in those wine classes was stunned into silence.
One of those wines was a Montefalco Rosso from Paolo Bea, valued at several hundred dollars. The other was an eight-dollar Spanish tempranillo. Price isn’t the determining factor in how wines age well. The most important factor is the wine cellar itself. The other is composition of the wine. The right combination of tartaric acid and pH will allow a wine to age well.
Wine Connoisseur vs Sommelier
The wine connoisseur sommelier division is one of semantics. A sommelier is someone who works in wine as a career. To become a sommelier, one should have both certification and a job in the wine sector.
Some old-guard winos say that a sommelier should be employed in a restaurant. However, after the pandemic, this is no longer the case. However, if you don’t work in the wine trade, you should consider yourself a wine connoisseur.
Wine Connoisseurs Don’t Smell
If you smell, you can’t smell. And those around you can’t smell the wine, either. If you need to drown your stink in layers of cologne or perfume, you don’t need a wine tasting. You need a doctor’s appointment.
If you fancy yourself a wine connoisseur, you should take the zero-scent ethos to an extreme. Plenty of products keep you as scentless as a heavenly cloud.
Soaps. Hand soaps should be scent-free. Does the wine smell like peaches, or is that just the cheap perfumes in your soap? The same goes for moisturizers.
Shampoo. Everyone has their own brands they love. But keeping away from scent is critical since your hair is right next to your face. OGX’s Argan Oil Shampoo is an all-around great option, as is their biotin conditioner.
Deodorants. Just go for unscented, okay? The scent isn’t what keeps you from being stinky, it’s the Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Glycine Complex. We have no idea what to recommend if you opt for a natural deodorant.
Hair Products. If you use a hair pomade, use a scent-free one with bentonite, an all-natural clay used in winemaking. Bentonite, by itself, is a fantastic product for hair and skin rejuvenation.
Toothpaste. No one should have to decide between oral hygiene and tasting wine. Truly dedicated wine connoisseurs use toothpaste without Sodium lauryl sulfate: the compound that makes wine and OJ taste super acidic after brushing your teeth. For brands, we recommend CloSYS Fluoride Toothpaste.
Food & Wine Connoisseur Club
Another great way to get into wine is to join a wine club. It’s not a replacement for wine education (nothing is), but it will get your foot in the door and allow you to explore the idea of becoming a wine connoisseur. The wine school has a membership program that offers free monthly events and discounts on all our wine education programs.