Sizziling Summer is here! Enjoy refreshing prix fixe lunch and dinner menus for only $16 and $32 per person during Visit Sarasota's Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week June 1-14.

Check out the Sarasota-Manatee Originals' Restaurant Members participating in Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week!

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Wine Folly article written by Madeline Puckette

With Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival right around the corner, all of the different wines can be intimidating. This guide written by Wine Folly should help calm your nerves and get you ready for the festivities! 

There’s a lot of wine information out there, but not a lot of good advice on how to get started and what to learn first. Fortunately, with a little direction, you can gain lots of wine wisdom (and confidence) in a very short period of time. This guide intends to offer an outline on how to improve your wine knowledge — even if you’re starting from the very beginning.

Why Learn About Wine?

Becoming wine savvy isn’t for everyone. But it’s the best way for wine drinkers to enhance their social experiences and gain an improved sense of taste. There are some significant side benefits too: you’ll become more confident buying wine and be able to taste differences in quality. Of course, learning to identify wine quality can be so eye-opening that you may never see grocery store wine the same again, so if you prefer to maintain your blissful ignorance, it’s best to stop reading now.

If however, you’re ready to crack the code and understand your wine from the inside out, let’s get started!

cycle of learning wine

Change the Way You Drink

The first step you must take if you want to improve your wine knowledge is to immediately change the way you drink. Keep in mind that the goal is to alter the way you buy and consume wine so that you can make better-informed choices and have a higher level of awareness. When you remember that goal, every time you taste wine suddenly becomes an opportunity to add to your wine knowledge. Changing the way you drink, means that you:

  • Practice the tasting process each time you pick up a glass of wine
  • Set up comparative tastings to improve your ability to taste
  • Always identify the origin and vintage
  • Seek out new wines that will expand your tasting repertoire

This simple adjustment isn’t something that requires your full attention all the time. Just be sure to take good notes and after you’ve recorded your thoughts, you can get back to enjoying wine for its effect.

Start Your Personal Wine Challenge

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or an expert, we all have more to learn about wine. With that in mind, here is a 3-step personal wine challenge tailor-made for beginners.

Am I a wine beginner?

If you don’t know how to describe tannin and acidity in wine, and you’re mostly unaware of the range of wine varieties and styles available at your local wine shop, then chances are you are a beginner. So, congratulations for challenging yourself to learn more! 

Here are the first steps to take to improve your wine knowledge: 

Step 1: Basic Wine Traits

Palate Training Wine Tasting

First things first, what is wine? Wine is described as an alcoholic beverage made with fermented

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UNI John Zelko Quote

John Zelko was born in Montreal, Quebec but grew up in Florida, Panama, and Hawaii, the eldest of three sons of an adventurous mother and a father who was tired of being cold. He attended medical school in Honolulu and completed his surgical residency in Denver in 1983. Then, he and his wife Katherine moved to Portland, Oregon, and soon discovered that Oregon also had a young but growing viticultural industry that was producing wines that rivaled the best of Europe. John began apprenticing himself as a “cellar rat” to experienced vintners, and purchased a ton or so of grapes every year to make into wine, with most of the work being done in the late evening after rounds at the hospital.  In 1995, the Zelkos purchased a hilly, 40-acre parcel in the Willamette Valley in what is now the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, and began planting Pinot Noir grapes. Twenty years later, the vineyard is LIVE (low impact viticulture and enology)-certified and farmed using organic and biodynamic practices.  It produces the gutsy, earthy backbone and intense black fruit flavors that are typical of that AVA, with complexity aided by a mix of four Dijon clones and the original Pommard. John is still a full-time surgeon and the wine is made under his supervision by two exceptionally talented local vintners, Patrick Reuter for the Pinot Noir and Drew Voit for the Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay.


Want More Forks & Corks University?

Learn more about this wine seminar led by 7 world-renowned wine industry professionals and winemakers here.

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UNI Wayne Cheeseman Quote

Wayne Cheeseman is a resident of South Florida and who was born in Connecticut. Wayne received his introduction to wine by assisting his Italian immigrant grandparents in the winemaking process in the basement of their home. This sparked a lifelong pursuit of the pleasures of wine. After graduation from college, Wayne began running beverage programs for restaurants in the Caribbean and the states. Starting in 2005, he transitioned to working in wholesale distribution where he spent 10 years in various Sales Management positions. Starting in 2015, Wayne began working on the import side of the industry. He is currently employed with Broadbent Selections, an exclusive US National Importer for some of the world’s most sought-after wines. Broadbent Selections represents family owned wineries that come from the heart & passion of the people behind the wines. They represent wines with personality, history, and character.

Want More Forks & Corks University?

Learn more about this wine seminar led by 7 world-renowned wine industry professionals and winemakers here.

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