Five ways to learn more about your favourite drink

For those of us who read through the wine list at a restaurant as excitedly as a new book, or are always on the hunt for a new craft beer or local distillery, then finding new ways to learn more about your favourite tipple might be a great way to start off the New Year. Here, we’ve got five simple ways to have you feeling a little more in the know when it comes to your drink of choice!

1. Get reading

Whether you’d prefer to delve into books or browse online resources, there are plenty of places to get reading so you can learn from experts in a way that won’t totally confuse you with technical language. Start with reading material that helps you get to know the terminology of your favourite tipple, without overwhelming you to the point where you can’t understand what you’re being told!

If you’re looking to learn more about your favourite drop of wine, the number of wine-related books out there might seem overwhelming. These are a few that should start you in good stead. Jancis Robinson’s The 24-Hour Wine Expert is the perfect quick read for beginners, as the terminology stays away from anything too snobby or unclear! Another of her books co-authored with Hugh Johnson and called The World Atlas of Wine, will give you a great overview of the regions and sub-regions relating to wine. Jancis Robsinson’s website also has plenty of great information, otherwise check out the likes of Oz Clarke’s Grapes and Wines.

If another kind of tipple takes your fancy outside of the world of wine, there are books on everything from the history of whiskey, to more general spirits, to every craft beer you can imagine!

2. Take a short course

To add authority to what you’re learning, and get some guidance from the experts, consider booking yourself into a theory and/or practical short course in your chosen tipple.

For the wine lovers, Suzanne Brocklehurst, a freelance wine writer and consultant who has been in the industry for more than 30 years and writing for The Wine Narrative since 2014, says that all professionals worth their weight attend some form of Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) training. This is open to professionals and non-professionals alike, and can be found all over the globe. Otherwise, places like Prince Wine Stores (in Sydney and Melbourne) do really good short courses, so it’s always worth investigating reputable, local bottle shops to find out what’s available.

If beer is more up your alley, there are courses including those for anyone looking to become a brewer of beer through TAFE or the Institute of Beer. If you’re looking to organise a beer tasting for friends or even a corporate function where you can learn more, Brisbane-based freelance beer writer BeerMatt is a great person to speak with – safe to say he’ll talk your ear off about the latest in Australian beer!

3. Head to a tasting

From gin tastings in Sydney or Melbourne, to wine tastings throughout the Yarra Valley, Barossa and Margaret River  – just to name a few – there’s no reason you shouldn’t include a tasting or two in your education.

These give you a chance to talk with the staff, who will likely have qualifications of their own so they’ll be able to share some of their own knowledge with you while you put your tastebuds to work. We all know how easy it can be to get carried away with a few too many tasting glasses, so try and focus on really tasting the flavours of each selection – and don’t be afraid to use a spittoon if they have one available!

4. Share with friends

Not only is it important to head to a tasting – whether that’s for wine, beer or your spirit of choice – but it’s also a really good idea to involve friends. As Suzanne says, “nothing can beat sharing those bottles you’re tasting with like-minded folk who are happy to share the cost and discuss their thoughts”.

The conversations and drinks you share with friends will give you the chance to share your knowledge, as well as see if they have any new nuggets of wisdom to offer up to the group. From a themed dinner party where each guest has to create their own cocktail using a chosen spirit, to a festive drinks do where everyone brings a bottle of wine from a certain region, there are ample opportunities to get creative with how you share this time with friends – particularly with the sunny, summer weather in full swing.

5. Never stop learning

From those who have been studying for years, to those that are new to the world of their favourite drink, one thing is true of everyone – there’s always more to learn! As Suzanne says about wine, “it’s a rich and fascinating world that can be explored for years and years, and even those who might be referred to as ‘experts’ will still say they’re always learning”. Arguably, that’s one of the biggest attractions – it’s sure to keep you busy! So, no matter whether you’ve just started on your journey, or you’re yet to get learning, know that there are plenty of new things to soak up!

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