Whether you’re trying wines in a winery tasting room, a retail shop, or even at your own dinner table, the temptation is to take a sip and ask yourself, “Do I like this?” In other words, the natural way of thinking is to compare the just-tasted wine to all the wines you know, so as to decide whether or not to have it again.
But if that’s all you’re doing—deciding whether you like the wine or not—you’re not getting all that you can from that tasting.
Especially if you’re interested in food and wine pairing.
1. Ask yourself “What would I pair with this wine?”
The answer to “Do I like this wine?” could be “no” simply because many wines aren’t that impressive on their own—they need food to help them really sing.
Asking yourself what you’d like to eat with the wine, however, since it’s not a yes-or-no question, forces you to think. You’ll be blue-skying about how to make the wine work. Which will hone your food and wine pairing skills.
In the process, you might discover that there’s something to appreciate about every wine.
2. Ask yourself “How is this wine like others of the same variety?”
When you ask yourself “Do I like this wine?” you’re essentially comparing it to all similar wines and judging how it’s distinct from them, how it’s either better or worse.
Instead, do the opposite. Use the opportunity to distinguish what this wine has in common with others of the same variety or type—how this Pinot Noir, for example, is like all Pinot Noirs. Instead of learning about just one wine, you’ll be adding to your knowledge of that wine type as a whole, building your understanding of what you can generally expect from it.
And that’s useful when you’re considering buying—or pairing a food with—a bottle of it. Any bottle of it.