Omnivore - Corkscrew:Practice makes perfect: Tasting terroir in your wines

Train your tongue by tasting more wine.

Like the violin I misused as a tot, wine requires practice. I don’t read many books about it, although I definitely should; I don’t study it much anymore, although that might make me sound smarter. But I drink. A lot. Not to alcoholic levels — though the thought has fluttered in my throbbing, hungover head — but enough to become intimate with countless grapes. It’s important since habitual tasting trains the tongue to decipher chardonnay or riesling and, with practice, you can discover what makes music in your mouth.

Each month for the past eight years, I’ve invited an eclectic group to practice their drinking in my home. We blind taste 12-15 bottles at one sitting and the attendees have mostly an untrained yet keen interest in wine. From this base camp I’ve personally converted dozens into wine geekdom; some have even moved on to California winemaking. Sure, I could taste the wines alone — my husband and I make regular progress through the bottle stash — but how much fun would that be?

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