So what if the only "wine" label you're familiar with is Boone's Farm? You can still enjoy a wine dinner without feeling intimated. The Market hosts a five-course wine dinner with pairings of Shiraz/Syrah on April 19. That's plenty of time to learn to swirl, sniff and sip like wine critic Robert Parker. You can even practice with Strawberry Hill. Get more information about the Market wine dinner and two others
Here are a few tips to help you develop your wine palate:
1. Flavors and favorites. If asked what your favorite wine is, don't say peach. Peach is a flavor not a type of wine. (I know, Boone's Farm says differently.) It is however, O.K. to say a wine has a hint of peach, particularly if you're drinking a Viognier. You might also like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinto Gris/Pinot Grigio.
2. Don't gulp. Yes, wine is delicious. Yes, you're thirsty. Still, nothing screams "novice" wine drinker like a guzzler. Chug the water, but sip the wine.
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3. Watch your words. "Yuck" is inappropriate. "Yum" is appropriate. Even better is saying something about the wine. Chardonnay might remind you of toast or hay. If you're tasting the Shiraz/Syrah wines at the Market wine dinner on April 19, you'll likely pick up hints of plum, black berry, black cherry, bell pepper and perhaps even chocolate or licorice. There's no need to pretend that you taste these flavors if you don't. But if you do, say you do. Congratulations, you're ready for more than Boone's Farm.
4. Swirl. Sniff. Sip. Not only will fellow diners think you know what you're doing, but you'll actually learn more about the wines you're tasting with this method than you will if you just sip. Confused? Check out this video.
5. Relax. After a few swallows of wine, this will probably happen naturally but remember you're at the wine dinner to have fun with friends. If you learn a little something, cheers!
Need more? Wine expert Robert Parker offers his glossary of wine terms.