Ever felt awkward trying to decide what red wine to order, then watching in fascination as someone else takes command and proceeds to spout wine lingo like they’re possessed by a sommelier? Yep, me too, but since moving to Cape Town and finding renewed appreciation for South African wine, I’ve learnt you don’t need to suit up and have a Maserati parked outside to be a wine connoisseur – you’ve just got to enjoy the journey.  Here’s how…

1. Google your grape of choice

It’s one of the easiest ways to educate yourself. The internet is a treasure chest of valuable information for anyone looking to become familiar with a topic. Not only can you buy wines and learn about them, you can get down to basics and find out how wine is made, why location matters and way more. Start off with a few from your region and do some research, find out about a few grape varieties and popular vineyards – you’ll soon start to see the basics come to light.

2. Taste testers

Go to a wine tasting or a wine appreciation evening in your area – you may have to pay a small fee but sometimes they’re free too. It’s the best way to get to grips with different flavours and textures. Once you’ve tasted a  dry white wine versus a semi sweet, you’ll start to understand the varieties a little better. If food is served, you’ll also gain an understanding about which ones go better with which wines. There’s nothing quite like a practical experience. Also – write down the names of the wines you like and go back to point one – research them!

3. Check out a wine farm

They’re usually open for functions and events, wine tasting evenings and selling, so pick a place and plan a visit. Once you get to see the work that goes into every individual bottle, it will enhance your appreciation significantly. Wine farms are also great places to buy wine on a budget as they sell direct instead of through a middleman.

4. Go to dinner

Find a restaurant that has an extensive wine list and take the plunge – you should have a few names stored away and ready to reference. An added bonus, you’ll enjoy reading the menu once you understand a little more and can order a good red wine with confidence.

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