Wine tasting doesn't have to be stuffy.
Too many people shy away from tasting and comparing wine because they think they don't know "how to do it". Well, what's to know? Take, for example, an impromptu wine tasting we had with two of our neighbors recently. They had come over for a holiday dinner with the instructions only to bring some red wine.
While we waited for the food to finish cooking (or overcooking, as it turned out), the four of us tried a bottle of wine I had picked up at our local store. My husband and I love wine but we really don't know anything technical about it. We go by what tastes good and what fits our budget (no more then about $8 a bottle right now). We're also not big white wine drinkers; for the most part, we love Cabernets or red table mixtures.
The bottle I purchased was an Italian cabernet for about $7. I warned everyone this was a 'tester' meaning I had never had it before so it could be pure swill. Each of us took a sip and was completely in awe. It tasted absolutely wonderful and was a real treat. (See below for further details).
After the first bottle was drained (and that seemed to happen so quickly), our neighbor opened the bottle he had brought. This was a red wine mixture from a Santa Cruz winery and also a vintner of one my favorite Rieslings (see information below). Again, the wine was a huge hit. Very tasty, full in the mouth and was one of those times when you wish you had a second bottle. That was our tasting. We didn't' use any fancy words or swirl our wine around (well, OK, I did a bit but only because I had been reading up on what swirling actually does for the wine. It's a fun experiment to try). We simply took two bottles of wine, drank them and told each other what we liked. That is the kind of wine tasting I enjoy- wine does not have to be expensive to be good; in fact, some of the best wines I've had were under $20. And if you're a novice to wine like we are, then why jump into a $50 of wine your not really ready to appreciate?
Don't be afraid to try wine. Pick up something you think you might like, grab a buddy to try it with you and enjoy. That is the real glory of the grape.
Gaetano D'Aquino Vineyard "Cabernet del Veneto" 2003
Priced around 7-8 dollars (we purchased ours at Trader Joes), this big tasting, easy drinking wines was outstanding. It had full mouth flavors of fruit and none of the musky sharpness I sometimes find with cabernets. We enjoyed it with Jarlsberg cheese and summer sausage; simply fantastic. Fruity but not too fruity, it really coated your mouth nicely and didn't leave behind any wine resin.
Ca' del Solo "Big House Red" 2002 California red wine
I was already a Boony Doon fan as their Pacific Rim Rieslings is one of my all time favorite wines hands down. This red wine mix combined a multitude of grapes including syrah, zinfandel and petit syrah, to name just a few. This had a thick, fruity taste that completely coated the interior of your mouth.
If you are looking for a more "professional" wine tasting experience, read this: Wine Tasting.