One of my initial 30 By 30 goals was to become a sommelier (wine expert), but I really am not looking to pursue it as a career. I don’t want to spend money on actually becoming officially certified, I just want to learn more about wine. There are tons of free or inexpensive resources out there that I have found to help me do that.
Here are 10 goals I want to achieve to help to track my progress.
1. Do a Few Blind Tastings
Blind wine tasting is one sommelier skill that I may never master. But that won’t stop me from trying! I think I’ll need to do quite a few of these to get the hang of it. A blind tasting includes picking out not just the varietal, but also being able to pick out the region where it was grown, vintage, and vintner. Those are some serious skills!
Here’s a great guide I found that will get me started on hosting my own.
2. Help With A Harvest
A few of the wineries around here have the public help out with their annual harvest. Last year I wasn’t able to due to the last-minute notice given. It of course is somewhat unpredictable for the exact date that they will be harvesting. This year, I’m definitely going to reach out to see if I could get more of a heads-up for this season!
3. Focus on Pairings
I do fairly well choosing wine at restaurants to go with my meal, but I want to learn even more. I especially want to learn more about pairing wine with cheese.
Another 30 By 30 goal that I will be accomplishing this June is to cater a party for 30 people. It just so happens that the event that I am catering is a Bridal Shower at a winery. I’m crafting the menu specifically around the styles of wine available at the winery.
This will of course take some practice. I’ll be making a trip in May to pick up some wine. I might even pack a small picnic or a few cheeses to make sure I’m choosing the right flavors.
4. Explore the Lesser-Known Varietals
I’ve tried all the basics (many times), but I am amazed that there are so many varietals that I had never heard of. And yes, I want to try them ALL. I really want to try Tokaji Aszu, a Hugarian Dessert Wine; and St Laurent, an Austrian wine similar to Pinot Noir.
5. Purchase More Wine Glasses
I have a few wine glasses, but only 2 types that are specifically designed for certain types of wine. And, I really only use one kind for nearly any kind of wine that I might be drinking at the moment. Riedel makes glasses specifically made for different varietals. I would love to try them all, but I’ll start with one! Now to decide which one that will be….
6. Hang Out With the Local Wine Club
Indy has a wine club! Indy Wine Infusion has quite a few meet-ups each month. I joined the Meet Up group a few months ago but haven’t been able to make it to an event yet. This is a must!
7. Explore the Indiana Wine Trails
There are multiple wine trails in Indiana. I’ve known about the Indy Wine Trail for a while, but I recently realized there are a whole slew of trails! While it isn’t Bordeaux or even Napa Valley, there is still plenty to be learned from these vintners.
8. Buy a Decanter (And Learn How to Use It!)
This article has a great outline of when and how to decant wine. I have a few bottles on the shelf that I have to make a conscious effort not to open yet because they haven’t reached their peak.
9. Subscribe to Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast
Wine Spectator is a bit more of an investment than most magazines, but it is one of the most renowned US (if not international?) publications on wine. Wine Enthusiast also has a tasting app. I had completely forgotten that I had already downloaded it! I should put this to use the next time I’m picking out a glass for dinner somewhere or a bottle for home!
10. Read The Sommelier’s Guide to Wine
So far I’m on page 19, and this book has some really good basic information. It is great for a beginner looking to learn more about wine, but I think Wine Folly has even more detailed information than this book. But, it never hurts to go back to the basics to make sure there aren’t any key details missed along the way!