A Full-Bodied Framework to Taste, Pair & Buy Wine Like a Pro

Oct30th

Introduction

Would you like to know how to taste, pair and buy wine like a pro? Would you like to walk into a liquor store and know exactly which new wine you want to buy, confident that you’ll love it even though you’ve never tried it before? Would you like to look at a restaurant wine list, filled with wines you haven’t tasted, but have the strategies to pick a great wine for your dining companions and the dishes that you’ve all ordered?

That’s exactly what I’m talking about on today’s special edition of Unreserved Wine Talk. We’re taking a deep dive into my online course, The Wine-Smart Course: A Full-Bodied Framework to Taste, Pair and Buy Wine Like a Pro. Over the past twenty years that I’ve been writing about wine, leading wine tastings and teaching online video courses, I’ve picked up lots of great secrets to decoding wine and I’m sharing them with you. I’m also launching a new, free video class to launch my new paid course, during which I’ll also share with you the 5 wine and food pairing mistakes that can ruin your dinner, and how to fix them forever. Enjoy!

 

Highlights

  • Who is the Wine-Smart Course for?
  • What will you learn in the Wine-Smart course?
  • What benefits can you gain from the course versus free information available on the internet?
  • How is learning about wine like getting in shape?
  • Why do you learn more when information is shared in stories?
  • What will you learn about how to taste wines like professionals do?
  • Can you differentiate between wine you don’t like and faulty wine?
  • Why is it so critical for you to become an expert on your own palate?
  • What will you learn about the most popular wine styles and regions?
  • How will the Wine-Smart Course help you to master food and wine pairing?
  • How will your wine purchasing experience change after taking the Wine-Smart Course?
  • What is the format of the Wine-Smart Course?
  • What are the added benefits of signing up for the course right now?
  • How can a simple question about butter and lemon help you with wine and food pairing?

 

Resources

 

Wine Reviews

 

Tag Me on Social

Tag me on social media if you enjoyed the episode:

 

Thirsty for more?

  • Sign up for my free online wine video class where I’ll walk you through how to taste wine and pair it with food like a pro – without the snobbery ;)
  • Join me on Facebook Live Video every second Wednesday at 7 pm eastern for a casual wine chat.
  • You’ll find my books here, including Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines and Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
  • The new audio edition of Red, White and Drunk All Over is now available on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com and other country-specific Amazon sites; iTunes.ca, iTunes.com and other country-specific iTunes sites; Audible.ca and Audible.com.

 

Transcript & Takeaways

Welcome to episode 48!

Would you like to know how to taste, pair and buy wine like a pro?

Would you like to be able to sip on a wine and know how to describe it exactly, the aromas and flavours?

Would you like to know how to take any wine and pair it with the right dish, or the reverse, any dish and pair it with the right wine?

Would you like to walk into a liquor store and know exactly which new wine you want to buy, confident that you’ll love it even though you’ve never tried it before?

Would you like to look at a restaurant wine list, filled with wines you haven’t tasted, but have the strategies to pick a great wine for your dining companions and the dishes that you’ve all ordered?

That’s exactly what I’m talking about in this special edition of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast about my online course called:

The Wine-Smart Course

A Full-Bodied Framework to Taste, Pair and Buy Wine Like a Pro

This course is perfect for you if you’re just beginning to learn about wine, OR you’ve been a wine lover for a while OR you’ve already taken a few wine courses, but would like to take your wine knowledge, and confidence, to the next level.

Who is not for? Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers and those who fully completed a similar designation, not just say the first two levels, may leave the room now.

You know, I still remember when I knew very little about wine beyond which labels I liked best, and I’d buy them over and over again, afraid to try something new in case it was a disappointment because I didn’t know why I liked what I liked.

If you’ve felt this way, you’re not alone.

Over the past twenty years that I’ve been writing about wine, leading wine tastings and teaching online video courses, I’ve picked up lots of great secrets to decoding wine, some that have been shared with me by the 270,000 wine lovers who subscribe to my weekly wine newsletter, and others that I’ve discovered on my own through tireless tasting and pairing experiments.

My liver for the people, and for you!

If you’ve been following my journey over the past few episodes, you know that I’m also launching a new, free video class to launch my new paid course, during which I’ll also share with you the 5 wine and food pairing mistakes that can ruin your dinner, and how to fix them forever!

You’ll find the link to that free class in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/48.

You’re going to get these juicy tips whether you buy my course or not because I want to make sure that you get as much pleasure as possible from your wine and food pairings.

I’m going to share on of those secrets with you near the end of this podcast. It’s so good, I know you’ll love it!

So let me share with you some of the concepts that you’ll learn in The Wine-Smart course. In Module 1, you’ll cut through the overwhelming amount of information out there about wine and learn what’s really important to master first, and what you can skip over or save for later.

Yes, there’s lots of free info on the internet. The problem is that it’s not laid out coherently, with step-by-step system and approach from an expert you trust.

For me, it’s like when I wanted to increase my muscular strength without getting bulked up, going full Arnold Schwarzenegger, or more importantly, not getting injured because someone is showing me the wrong techniques on a free YouTube video or a blog post.

Plus, when I’d search for those videos online, it’s in an environment of total distraction. Two hours later, after watching the best of Ellen’s monologues and yes some hilarious cat videos, did you see the one where the cat is on the robot vacuum cleaner and is swatting the dog every time it circles around, never mind. Then I’d look up and wonder where did the time go?

Your time is valuable too, and if your intention is to learn about wine, do it in an environment where that’s the sole focus, like an online course where we get together within a password-protected members’ area that’s not Facebook or any other distracting environment.

Just like getting in shape, learning about wine, when it’s done right, is a methodical process. That doesn’t mean it’s boring: I’ll definitely infuse it with lots of dry humour (pun intended) as well as personal stories because I know that’s how we learn.

While I respect a big tome like the Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson, I’ll never read it cover to cover. Whereas, I’ve read many terrific story-based wine books, from Sideways (made into the movie) to Jay McInerney’s Bacchus and Me (he also wrote Bright Lights, Big City).

I learned a lot about wine from those books, and more importantly, I remembered it. That’s why I based my first two books with Random House were stories about travels to various wine regions.

There’s a balance, of course. But that’s where you trusted expert comes in… someone who can give you the right blend of entertainment and education, kinda like when my mother would hide the green peas in the mashed potatoes when I was a kid.

Not that tasting wine is anything like eating green peas straight up. Ugh.

So first you’ll learn how to taste wine with me like the professionals do, not only the five critical steps and what to look for with each step, but also how to develop a solid wine tasting vocabulary to understand what those expert tasting notes and terms mean.

You’ll also learn how to tell if a wine bad or if you just don’t like it, including how to smell and identify the major faults in wine. Industry statistics indicate that 5-10% of all wine is faulty in some way, yet less than 1% of wine is sent back in a restaurant. A lot of people are drinking a lot of bad wine, thinking they just don’t like the style. That won’t be you anymore.

Most importantly, you’ll become the expert on your palate, your own sense of taste: not just which wines you like, and which ones you don’t, but also why you like them or don’t.

That is key to being able to buy new wines you’ve never tasted before but you’re confidence you’ll them. And in doing that, you expand your world of pleasure as you open yourself up to the delicious diversity of wine instead of buying the same wines over and over again. As I mentioned, I’ve been there.

In Module 2, you’ll learn about the four most popular wines in the world: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. You’ll discover which regions around the world excel at these wines, how the styles differ and how to pair them with food, the dishes that work, those that don’t and why.

You’ll enjoy this feast for the senses as we taste our way together through various pairings.

You’ll also learn how to serve these wines with confidence: the right glassware, temperature, and whether you need to decant them or not.

In Module 3: you’ll learn about the next four most popular wines in the world: Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz/Syrah. And we’ll cover the same key aspects with these wines: the regions that make them best, how they differ, pairing them with food and how to serve them.

In Module 4, you’ll double-down on wine and food pairing, going beyond what we cover in modules two and three, so that no matter which wine or which dish you have, pairing them together is never hit-and-miss.

As we taste through more mouth-watering, savory pairings, you’ll learn why certain flavours work together and others don’t, three key shortcuts when pairing wine and food that you’ll actually remember, some terrible food and wine matches to avoid for the rest of your life (and why they don’t work – these are different from the free video class), seven classic food and wine pairings and why they have become classics, plus bonus tips for your holiday turkey dinners when the table is bursting with so many flavours from cranberry sauce to mashed potatoes (yes please, no peas) – how on earth do you pick a wine to go with all of that, let alone all the family and friends?

Plus, we’ll also explore and taste unusual food and wine pairings, from fast food favourites, Chinese takeout or pizza anyone, to tough matches, such as quiche and asparagus and why they may change how you taste certain wines!

In Module 5, we’ll take all that we learned together in the first four modules and use your new knowledge, your wine super power, to feel confident buying wine whether you’re in the liquor store or a restaurant.

You’ll know how to get outside your comfort zone. You’ll learn how to decode a wine label and the 3 things to look for that will give you clues to the wine’s taste and style without even tasting it.

You’ll also discover how to choose wine from a restaurant list with confidence: 4 tips to decipher any wine list and 2 smart questions to ask the sommelier or server.

And finally, you’ll learn how to pick a gift wine for a friend or host or boss: no-fail wine gifts for any occasion or palate.

I hope this sounds like an experience that you’d like to share with me personally. The core 5 modules are compact, with no fluff or tedium. I’ve decanted all the sediment off so you can actually binge-watch them Netflix style in less than 5 hours. I said binge watch not binge drink.

But if you’re thirsting for more, there are another 70 short videos that answer just about any wine question you have, and if you have one I have’t answered, let me know because I’m always updating the course. There are also50 archived guided tastings. Those aren’t necessary to complete the course, they’re there for you when you feel like having a second helping.

During the free class, I’ll be offering a time-limited special price than the regular price that you can see on the website now for this course.

So even if you can’t start right away, take advantage of this price because it will go back up. That’s my gentle, but not-so-subtle way of getting you to treat yourself rather than staying on the fence.

Plus, when you join me, you get lifetime access to the course materials, videos, workbooks, tasting template, pairing sheets as well as regular, live online tastings with me that are also recorded and archived for you so that you don’t miss anything. So you can dive into the course when you’re ready, perhaps during the holidays or while you’re on vacation or whenever the time is right for you.

Now I promised to reveal to you one of the five juicy wine and food pairing tips that I’ll share during the free video class and it’s what I call the lemon or butter test. So when you’re debating about which wine goes with your dish, ask yourself this question: Would I squeeze lemon on this dish, perhaps as you might for fresh seafood, or would I slather some melting butter on it, say on a juicy steak?

If your answer is a squeeze of lemon, then look for wines that have a lemon or zesty citrus flavour and some mouth-watering, juicy, palate-cleansing acidity. Here’s an additional tip: on the back label of the bottle for these wines, you’ll often see the wine described as having notes of lemon, grapefruit, lime and so on. These are usually zingy white wines like Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Gruner Veltliner, among others.

Conversely, if you have a richly flavoured dish, say your steak topped with some melting butter, then you’re looking for a more robustly flavoured wine, perhaps with some oak aging, as barrels often impart a buttery or smoky vanilla aroma and flavour. Now we’re likely looking at a robust red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Zinfandel, among other choices. This is a quick way to sort through all of the thousands of wine and food combinations out there and I have four more to share with you on the free video class.

Well, there you have it! You’ll find a link to the free video class in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/48. I hope you’ll join me there, and let your wine-lovin friends know about it too!

What was your favourite tip from this episode? Do you have a question I didn’t answer? Share that with me on Twitter or Facebook and tag me @nataliemaclean, on Instagram I’m @nataliemacleanwine.

If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it, especially one who’s interested in a behind-the-scenes peak at a wine writer’s life. My podcast is easy to find, whether you search Google on its name Unreserved Wine Talk, or on my name.

I can’t wait to share more wine stories with you next week.

Thank-you for taking the time to listen to this one. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a terrific glass of wine that pairs well with watching the class!

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