Are You a Wine Dummy? Here Are 5 Ways to Fix That.

You might not know wine. But you can still enjoy it.

By The Editors
September 16, 2015 9:00 am

Look, I know bourbon.

Very, very well. Chalk it up to experience.

My knowledge is sometimes academic, too. I’ve visited agave farms to learn more about tequila. I’ve tasted hundreds of beers across dozens of categories. I’ve been on more distillery tours than I care to count.

All that said: I know nothing about wine.

I’ve tried. Apps, seminars, tastings, Napa Valley trips … all of which have led to me at a wine store, mumbling, “I need something for a dinner. I think they’re serving … meat.”

Thankfully, a number of new services have popped up to help me, Idiot Wine Drinker, become me, certified Fake-It-Till-You-Make It Vino Connoisseur.

Bonus: according to unnamed sources, I’m absolutely lovely when I get wine tipsy. (Can’t say the same about bourbon.)

And you can be, too. Here are five helpful wine services, apps and sommeliers to get you there:

1. Vinebox

Launched this week, this is wine by the glass, delivered monthly. Sort of a cautious take on Club W and other vino subscription services, Vinebox delivers three “tasting vials” (the same used by European vineyards in B2B transactions) hailing from vineyards in France, Spain and Italy. Each box arrives with tasting notes and regional breakdowns. Like something? They’ll keep tabs on your taste profile, and you’ll soon be able to order full bottles.

2. Winestyr

Call it craft wine. This wine club (pictured above) exclusively features small-batch U.S. winemakers (1,000-10,000 cases per year). They’ll create a taste profile for you by asking about your design style and dream destination. And the tasting notes (“We’d liken this wine to a perfectly-fitted tuxedo — it exudes confidence and finesse”) forego the usual pretentions.

3. Tipsi

Know where you’re eating? And what? This app — which partners with restaurants in major cities — will help you order the right bottle for a given meal thanks to suggestions from real-life sommeliers.

4. Plonk

An app that covers the basics and builds your taste preferences from there: from grape varietals to wine styles to, and this is important, a thorough vino pronunciation guide (if you don’t mind a British accent).

5. Charles Smith

The best wine tasting we had this year — well, ever, really — involved this Washington native, who literally stopped by the office on his way to picking up Wine Enthusiast’s freakin’ Winemaker of the Year award. Smith looks like your cool punk-rock uncle (see above) and riffs on rieslings with names like Kung Fu Girl. His motto: “It’s just wine, drink it.” Bonus: you can visit him. Smith has urban wineries and tasting rooms in Seattle and Walla Walla housed in former Dr. Pepper and auto-repair warehouses.


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