There are dozens of wine-producing countries, hundreds of grape varieties, thousands of regions and many thousands of producers. So why are you drinking the same Pinot Grigio or Pinot Noir every week?

Wine can be intimidating but that doesn’t mean you should be!


People often ask me what my favorite wine is

My response:

I don’t have one. With over 100,000 wines available just in the US (not including vintages), I can’t choose just one or even ten.

Exploring wine is so much fun! I do it every chance I get via winery visits, locally hosted tastings, travel, and/or the wine shop shelf or restaurant wine lists. While I might not always find a wine that I personally love, I’m leveraging wine knowledge when tasting and adding the experience (and assessment) to my memory bank.


Exploring a wine by producer


Selecting a bottle

Start with selecting a bottle, exploring by:

Wine varietal

Wine Type or style



Random selection

Sample of wines to taste



Now leverage your tasting skills (discussed in How to Swirl, Sniff and Taste Like a Pro) to assess the wine. What characteristics is the wine showing? What do those characteristics say about the wine? Cool or warm climate? Aged in oak? New or old oak? French or American oak? Malolactic fermentation? What about the soil type? Can you identify the grape varietal? What is your conclusion about the wine’s quality? Now, what do you personally like or dislike about it?




Now, go ahead and do a quick google search on the wine. See what it tells you about the wine itself, varietal, winemaking techniques, producer, region and even history. This information will add to your wine experience, while also confirming what you identified during your tasting assessment.


Looking for some specific recommendations?

Instead of Champagne, try a Crémant.

It’s made using the same process as Champagne and its French, but much more budget friendly. (See banner photo.)



Think you dislike Chardonnay?

If you’ve been drinking California Chardonnay (which tend to be wooded), then try Chablis (French unwooded Chardonnay). If you don’t like Chablis, then maybe you really don’t like Chardonnay.


You love a zingy Sauvignon Blanc?

Try Grüner Veltliner from Austria, similar zing but with a little added white pepper. Or try a Vinho Verde from Portugal.






Turn intimidation into elevation

By exploring wine and leveraging your experiences/knowledge, you turn intimidation into an elevated experience. You’ll learn something new and create memories too.

So don’t be intimidated… pick up something new, you might just find out that you enjoy it!



Stephanie Roberts, WSET® Certified, is passionate about educating people about wine and all its complexities. She believes that through education comes enlightenment and approachability—elevating the wine and food experience. Stephanie is the founder of Corks & Boards, offering unique and tailored wine experiences, and topic driven tastings/education. Furthermore, she has developed a wine education series that she will launch February 2020. She currently offers wine experiences and education to the Lake Norman community at Brick Row and the Charlotte community at Camp North End.





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