Tales of an ignorant wine enthusiast

I love wine. I love most alcoholic beverages, but recently wine has been winning the nightly battle of what tipple fills my glass. My problem, like many, is that I was an ignorant wine drinker.

I didn’t particularly care what kind of grapes went into this luscious bottle of happiness just waiting to be consumed, or where they were grown. I didn’t know the difference between a Chardonnay and a Chenin Blanc, or a Merlot and a Malbec. I never discerned that subtle hint of oak that danced on my lower lip as I sniffed a freshly poured glass of plonk, or tasted the freshly harvested notes of plum as the glass was knocked back.
Oh, how things have changed. Turns out, in order to get better (note, I am still not comfortable with the word good) at tasting wine, you have to drink a lot of wine!

This, now this is something I’m good at.

After a lot of trial and error I learned a few basic things – wine does not have to be expensive to be good, and wine does not have to be good to be expensive. I’ve had some pretty terrible expensive wine, and some pretty good cheap wine. It boils down to personal taste – don’t be afraid to speak your mind!

Limited to randomly picking wine based on labels and the recommendation of the friendly staff at Total Wine, my partner in crime (aka my wonderful girlfriend) and I decided on trying out a wine club. Plenty of in depth research later, we opted for the one with the cheapest Groupon – Tasting Room.


The idea is pretty simple, you sign up and receive 6 mini bottles of wine (4 red, 2 white) for you to taste and compare. Once entering your preferences onto their website your virtual sommelier lets you know what types of wine and regions you prefer.

iPad at the ready, we set upon tasting the wines. White wine was out first taste test, having to carefully select our favorite between a Chardonnay and White Blend. The Chardonnay never had a chance, I almost had to pin poor Mary to the ground just to get her to try it. The blend was not much good either, but won out by default.

Next up, the reds.

img_0892Already a little buzzed from the one ounce sampling of wine I’d just consumed, I fetched 4 clean glasses from the kitchen and set the wines out on the seemingly pointless tasting pad.

The wines got progressively better, with wine #6 being our favorite – Compass Point Merlot from Paso Robles.

We ranked our favorites, comparing them to one another and then let the good folks at Tasting Room know if we hated or enjoyed any in particular (i.e. Chardonnay).

As if by magic, from these 6 tiny bottles of wine we had a customized wine profile presented to us. “Tom, you like bold earthy reds” it proudly proclaimed. Well, duh.

The tasting profile is by far the best feature of Tasting Room thus far, as found the wines to be a little shitty (for want of a more technical term). Identifying flavors and styles is the first step to understanding that intimidating wine list at that fancy restaurant you love so much. I can now ask the waiter, do you have any bold earthy reds sir?

We have an order of 6 full sized bottles headed our way, a perk of the Groupon, which Tasting Room suggest we review in order to keep receiving wines tailored to our tastes. They even show which wines they’ll be sending in case you’d like to switch something out, thankfully no Chardonnay. One downside is that an adult must sign for the package when arriving, so that no pesky children get their hands on it (I’m sure there’s easier ways for them to procure alcohol), though our local UPS driver is smart enough to make his deliveries after 5pm.

The jury is out so far on Tasting Room, we will await some further bottles, but as an ignorant wine enthusiast, there’s worse places to start.

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